If you’re like me, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything that’s going on in America today.
We’ve got Donald Trump playing nuclear chicken with Kim Jong Un. We’ve got Robert Mueller about to begin asking current and former White House staff, “Are you now or have you ever been a witting or unwitting Russian collaborator?”
The media has left the victims of Harvey and Irma behind to focus (to the extent that the media can focus on anything) on Puerto Rico and the devastation of its American citizens. In related news, The New York Times reported that nearly half of Americans don’t know that Puerto Ricans ARE American citizens.
Most Republicans in Congress played political football with the American healthcare system again this week in a vain attempt to score a political win that they have promised and failed to deliver on for years. Their latest approval rating has dropped to a teeth-sucking 15%.
So what does our fearless leader do? He picks up a football and turns it into a flaming pigskin Molotov cocktail, aiming it at the National Football League.
Wrapped in the flag while spouting nationalistic rhetoric, Trump yanks the chain of the 36% of Americans (according to the latest Quinnipiac poll) who continue to approve of the job he is doing. As usual, riling up the base is the best thing to do when everything else is going wrong.
And exactly what is the Trump base doing with this manufactured outrage? In addition to pushing around the usual internet memes on Facebook, it seems they’re taking a page from the progressive playbook. Seems we should boycott the NFL on November 12—the day after Veteran’s Day—to show support for veterans, the flag and the anthem.
Now I don’t know much about football, but I do know a tiny bit about boycotts. For one to be effective, it must harness the outrage immediately and in a sustained fashion. Not six weeks from now and not for one day. Think the boycotts of Montgomery buses, Florida orange juice (whatever happened to Baby Anita?) and Coors beer. They took a long time.
So if you’re really outraged about players taking a knee, then give up NFL football. Today and totally. It can’t be like giving up chocolate for Lent. If 36% of the NFL audience dried up, I’m pretty sure something would happen. Don’t know what, but something would.
But if all that can be mustered is a dent in revenue on one day, the boycott will be chalked up as a cost of doing business in support of the majority of football fans who won’t support the boycott. Or Donald Trump for that matter.
Some people have wondered how this could have distracted so many from the more pressing issues of the day—all those things mentioned earlier. But we can’t give voice to any concern if we can’t give voice to all our concerns.
And, for me, it’s really about this. Colin Kaepernick has a constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression, and anyone who criticizes that expression instead of addressing the issues he raised about race in America has conceded the argument to him from the get-go. And with that right and its exercise, we can continue bringing up our issues for as long as it takes—and that probably isn’t one day on November 12.
So everyone keep railing for and against whatever you like. This freedom of speech thingy is more important right now than it has been in a really long time.
A really long time.