Kneeling to Political Correctness

Robert Knight, So, Colin Kaepernick is the current face of American professional sports.

This is the guy widely panned four years ago for his protests during the playing of the National Anthem at National Football League games.  Now he’s the bee’s knees.

That’s the picture from a Washington Post poll that says a majority (56 percent) of Americans actually approve of athletes kneeling in protest when the Star-Spangled Banner is played.  Only 42 percent of those polled say it’s “not appropriate.”

Pollsters also say that a majority in America now find nothing missing at all when a wedding features two grooms and no bride.

If you’re still in the minority on this, you had better get with the program before they find out who you are and demonstrate how much they tolerate your views.

Mr. Kaepernick, who has gone on to denounce America regularly as a uniquely evil, racist nation, was just ahead of the curve, according to Roger Goodell. The reflexively PC-observant NFL Commissioner said in July that he wished “we had listened earlier” to Mr. Kaepernick.

To make up for it, the NFL is giving wads of money to leftwing groups, welcoming anthem kneeling, painting social justice messages in their endzones and affixing pictures of alleged police brutality victims on helmets.  If you think that will be enough to satisfy Black Lives Matter activists, you’ll probably be betting on the Jacksonville Jaguars to win the Super Bowl.

In 2018, Seattle-based Nike, the shoe giant that pays workers a pittance in its Third World factories, starred Mr. Kaepernick in its 30th anniversary ad campaign.

Emblazoned on a black and white portrait of Mr. Kaepernick is the slogan: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it.”

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Well, that sounds noble.  But if you’re a martyr of the Left, you can make a very good living when taking a stand that brings smiles in Hollywood, The New York Times newsroom, and other leftist redoubts.  We don’t know how much Mr. Kaepernick got from Nike, but it’s estimated in the millions.

Which is only fair, since the company appears to have profited handsomely. Nike made a few billion dollars more and saw a surge in its stock price after it took an initial hit. The company shrewdly played its market, which skews heavily toward the young.

This is a generation that’s been systematically alienated from their country since they were knee-high by a toxic popular culture and Marxism-infused educational system.  Some of them can hardly wait to kneel in obeisance to BLM to show how woke they are.

To be fair, it’s not just the young. Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney scored a politically correct twofer by joining a BLM street protest while wearing a COVID-19 mask. He should get some sort of award.

The indoctrination of the young still doesn’t explain the finding that even a majority (59 percent) of football fans, except a few grizzled members of the Greatest Generation, think it’s just wonderful to use NFL games or other professional sports (NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL, soccer, etc.) as backdrops for leftwing activism.

I think people told the Post’s pollsters what they think they want to hear. A Gallup survey found that 40 percent of Americans now have a negative view of sports, up from 25 percent last year, so not everyone loves the kneeling. But many are afraid to share their real beliefs.

We’re living in a cancel culture. Many people believe not unreasonably that the agents of intolerance will reach down and throttle them in their own homes once their opinions are leaked. Hence the near absence of political bumper stickers and yard signs.

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There is another plausible explanation for the Post’s anthem protest survey results. The question was worded this way:

“When it comes to athletes kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States, do you consider this to be an appropriate way or not an appropriate way to bring attention to these concerns?”

The question implies that America is systemically racist and that it’s just a matter of how – not what – you protest. The players’ actions are milquetoast compared to what’s going on nightly in Portland, Minneapolis, and other cities.

After months of looting and rioting, the spectacle of athletes kneeling at a sports event sounds nicer and less threatening than an angry mob tossing Molotov cocktails and burning down police stations. So, yeah, “appropriate?” Sure. Whatever you say.

I imagine that even in this fearful age in the Home of the Brave, they’d get a different response if they instead asked: “Do you think athletes should stand for the national anthem out of respect for the flag of the United States, which is draped over the coffins of our fallen servicemen and women?”

OK, that’s a bit loaded. How about this, for those who identify as Christian or Jewish:

“When you kneel in church or during the High Holy Days, are you praying to God or to Black Lives Matter?”

And the follow-up: “What other entities do you kneel to, and how often?”

Robert Knight is a Townhall. His website is roberthknight.com

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