Patriotism, racism, and profitable posturing at the NFL

Standing in the crowd at sports events recently, I find the continued singing of the national anthem more and more surreal. “Land of the free / Home of the brave” used to be a proud boast, for most Americans – but for more and more, as for some people always, it has to be understood as an unanswered question. This is not just a matter of the Trump era – civil rights for all of us in the US were under blistering attack back in the administration of George II, and indeed before; it’s just that things are more naked and more poisonous now. Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling campaign reminded us that for some those words – penned, let’s recall, by an enthusiastic racist – have always been hard to appreciate.

In a recent column for The Guardian, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar has all the right things to say about the NFL ownership’s cowardly response to player protests.

To deny professional athletes the right to express dissent in a peaceful manner is a disgrace to the Constitution, the opposite of patriotism and shameful moral weakness.

The full piece is here.

Whose “patriotism” is nothing but window-dressing the profit ledger? Whose “patriotism” is nothing but sentimental, lachrymose self-regard? Whose “patriotism” – making use of the last two – is nothing but window-dressing the lust for power?

Whose patriotism is a willingness to bravely defend the best values a country was founded on?

Hint: in a country not run by despicable creeps, Colin Kaepernick would have streets named after him, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.