Is The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck The Dumbest Of Them All?

It would seem so. Gladys Knight agreed to sing the National Anthem at the Soper Bowl, and is getting criticized. Why? “The legendary singer is being criticized for agreeing to take the gig in light of some fans boycotting the National Football League over its treatment of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.”

One of the thinks that makes the NAPETR so mind-numbingly stupid is that the point of the pointless protest keeps changing, because the protesters just want to protest. Kaepernick, when he was a back-up quarterback of fading skills, claimed he was kneeling during the national anthem to protest “bodies in the streets” and “ people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” That was inarticulate, and also vague Black Lives Matter propaganda paired with a direct assault on the anthem, since he began by saying that the U.S. flag didn’t deserve his respect. Then other players began kneeling in “solidarity,” but claiming that the protest during the anthem had nothing to do with the anthem. When they were all justly criticized for bringing (incoherent, half-baked, virtue-signaling racial) politics into football games, the said they were protesting to exercise their First Amendment Rights. (There is no right for employees to protest in the workplace), Then when President Trump attacked the protesters and the NFL teams for putting up with them, the kneeling was explained (by some) as a protest against President Trump, a nice safe default these days. Now the kneeling is partially justified as a protest against no NFL team hiring a mediocre quarterback whose grandstanding created a huge public relations problem for the league and who cost it many millions of dollars.

Now a pop singer, whose job is to entertain people, is being told she should not entertain people and should refuse to honor the anthem and the flag with her talents because these topics are too important. Of course, whatever Kaepernick thought he was protesting, there was not an electron of a chance that it would accomplish anything positive , particularity since what he was protesting–-you can’t just assume that any police officer is guilty and stop paying him, you moron—was based on bias, racism and ignorance. So why should Gladys withhold her talents from a national sports event that brings Americans of all races and creeds together? Oh, that’s right: because Amy Shumer says so.

This is like a bad Ionesco play.

Ann Althouse’s four reasons that the attacks on Knight are wrong are…

1. Don’t criticize Gladys Knight.

2. Don’t make singing the National Anthem into a bad thing,

3. The question of protesting the National Anthem is separate, and if you want to defend the players who have been protesting, you’re making a big leap if you go from arguing that the protest is respectful, respectable, and permissible to saying that protest is required and anyone not protesting is to be disrespected,

4. Those who are making that big leap are confirming the fears of the kind of people who worry that once something is permitted we’re on a slippery slope to its being required.

Here are mine:

1. Politicizing the performing arts distorts politics and art. Artists are not successful because they are the most informed or intelligent people around, and they shouldn’t have to weigh political controversies to make a living. It was wrong for “the resistance” to bully performers out of singing for America during the Trump inauguration. If they want to use their fame and celebrity to participate in political issues, that’s their choice. I have defended the right of performers to sell their wares—that is, their performances—to brutal foreign dictators. They certainly have the right to sing the National Anthem for the American public.

2. You are not obligated to endorse my protests and politics. I can explain why you should agree with me, and, for example, not support the NFL’s cynical, greedy and brutal destructiin of young men’s brains to make their billions, but if you prioritize differently, that’s your choice. I reserve the right to argue about it with you, of course, but Knight’s critics aren’t making a case, they are just complaining.

3. I see no difference between saying that Gladys Knight shouldn’t sing for the NFL and arguing that a bar shouldn’t serve a customer in a MAGA hat. It’s cultural poison, and will tear the country apart. It’s half-torn already.

4. Social media bullying is a scourge of the nation, and the only way to defeat it is to condemn the mob, whatever it is demanding, to defy it, and to support the celebrities and others who do. I won’t be watching the CTE Bowl this year, but I will watch Gladys sing the National Anthem.

Finally, here’s what Gladys has said:

I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight . “It is unfortunate that our national anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the national anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone. I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3, to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life.”


11 thoughts on “Is The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck The Dumbest Of Them All?

  1. I will support/watch Gladys Knight — and good for her, by the way — but will not, never do and never will watch any NFL game. The proof is in: repeated concussions have caused and are causing and will continue to cause CTE in players, with its attendant horrible depression, early dementia, and other unfixable and fatal problems. Our only hope is that parents do NOT allow their children to become involved in football, that they are smart enough to listen and learn about CTE. The only way the NFL, in all its greed, will stop is when the pipeline of players begins to fall precipitously.. So parents: it’s up to you. Protect your children, and eventually you’ll have helped thousands of other boys and men as well.

  2. I think getting her to sing the anthem was genius move. Her statement was excellent. Here she is singing “The Way We Were” on Dancing with the Stars. This performance always leaves me (and half the audience and contestants) in tears.

  3. Unfortunately, I think we’ve reached the point where ordinary patriotism, “devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country,” per the online dictionary, is no longer allowed, at least not without tacking on some conditions or qualifications. A decade plus of political figures trading on division and encouraging dislike of one group or another above loyalty to one’s country, including the divider-in-chief, Obama, will do that. It used to be you could say things like “nobody goes into battle white, nobody goes into battle black, everybody goes into battle blue (all of the US armed forces wear some kind of blue uniform),” and most folks would agree with you. Now you either get laughed at as hopelessly square or patronized as someone who just doesn’t get it. If Frank Sinatra released his song “The House I Live In,” with the lyrics “The children in the playground/The faces that I see/All races and religions/That’s America to me,” today, it’d go over like a lead balloon.

    There’s simply more political hay to be made, particularly on the left, by stoking division and telling everyone who isn’t a white, straight, Christian male that this nation doesn’t deserve your respect, because it was too long in the exclusive control of white, straight, Christian males, and those men didn’t do right by you or others like you, either now or at sometime in the past.

    If you’re black, it shouldn’t matter that slavery ended before your grandparents, maybe now even your great-grandparents, were born. It shouldn’t matter that Brown v. Board of Education was decided 64 years ago, or that the Civil Rights Act has been in place 54 years. It shouldn’t matter that the overwhelming number of black men who die at the hands of the police do so in the commission of a criminal act. Because this nation got it wrong before, and is still getting it wrong, it isn’t worthy of your respect, and it won’t be until it conforms to the Black Lives Matter vision.

    If you are a woman, it shouldn’t matter that you now have exactly the same rights as men, that women have had the right to vote for almost 100 years, or that a woman can now run for president and have it be assumed she will win and just needs to pick which pantsuit she’ll wear at her inauguration. Because this nation, and in fact the whole world, got it wrong for a long time, and because men everywhere are still getting it wrong every time they mansplain or ask a second time for a date after being told no, this nation isn’t worthy of your respect, and it won’t be until every man “steps away from the power.”

    If you are one of those who has issues with their sexuality, ranging from same-sex attraction to transsexuality, the recent seismic cultural changes shouldn’t matter. This nation got it wrong until recently, and it’s still getting it wrong every time someone says to a boy who picks up a doll today “are you sure?” Therefore it’s not worthy of your respect until the entire concept of gender is erased.

    Your first loyalty is to those like you, not to the nation that has failed you and them in the past. Therefore, you are not only within your rights, but obligated, to refuse your loyalty to this imperfect nation and not participate in any display of loyalty to it, or at the very least, not do so without registering the proper protest. That goes double when a Republican is in the White House, and triple when that Republican’s name is Donald Trump. If you are an athlete, take a knee, raise the black fist, turn your back, stay in the locker room until the anthem is over, but make darn sure the world sees you. If you are a performer, do not get involved in any patriotic performance or anything associated with the current administration, and, if invited, make it known that you declined, preferably in foul language. If you are either and one of your number breaks ranks, make sure they are ostracized, just like that orange, overprivileged jerk who stole Hillary’s place.

  4. I read her statement and thought it was quite powerful. I think this will be an interesting test on where society is. Can an icon of her stature, history and influence be brought down or bullied by the SW crowd or does it backfire?

    • I wonder if there isn’t some type of turning point happening. It would be nice to think so, but the get Trump thing continues apace seemingly without slackening. The SJW thing is incredibly strident. Maybe people are catching on. If i they are, there sure aren’t any pollsters who would be willing to make that data available. They’d bury it.

    • Bill Cosby was. You can argue that he brought himself down (and you would be on pretty solid ground), but I would suggest that if he had stayed on the Democratic plantation and played the role he was required, he would have been a TV star and celebrity of note at least up until the metoo movement.

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