I have written here before that following baseball and baseball commentary as a child formed the foundation of my interest in ethics and ethical virtues. This was made possible by my idealistic, lawyer, war hero father guiding me through various thickets of confusion and toxic rationalizations, but I worked a lot of it out myself. Boston sportswriting was famously full of fools and blow-hards back then, but at least there was seldom any political opining on the sports pages. I assume that responsible editors forbade it, since the typical sportswriter possessed the sophistication of the average eleven-year old. Sports was seen, correctly, as an often abstract metaphor for real life, where one could learn useful lessons about human nature and problem solving, but one which would curdle quickly once it was confused with the more complex issues that lay outside the stadiums, parks, fields and arenas.
An important book could be written about how politics spoiled, and perhaps even ruined, sports, and the negative effect of this on the rest of American society. I don’t have the time for that, and it’s outside of my area of expertise anyway. However, it seems clear that the politicization and progressive brain-washing that has perverted so much else today has infected sports, perhaps fatally, and that whatever value the topic may have had in conveying cultural values to our young has evaporated in the steam of empty wokeness and ruthless propaganda.
This week provided additional damning evidence. Monday was epic, as the sports page propagandists prepared us for the brain-twisting logic of the baseball Hall of Fame voters determining that Curt Schilling’s support for the previous President of the United States made him a worse pitcher. One Times article demonstrated just how devoid of critical thinking skills sports writers are by quoting with approval a supposedly astute baseball writer’s’ suggestion that “making transphobic comments” is a “much better” reason to keep a player out of the Hall of Fame than his steroid use. Incredible! The latter is cheating on the field. The former is the expression of an opinion, and has nothing to do with baseball at all.
But that wasn’t the worst of what Monday’s sportswriting wisdom brought us. The new primary sports columnist of the New York Times, Kurt Streeter, reflecting on the end of the NFL season, issued a screed celebrating—wait for it—Colin Kaepernick.
“Kap was right” the head exploding thing begins. No, in fact Kap wasn’t right, and what he first and foremost wasn’t right about was the appropriateness of a worker using the workplace to make grandstanding political statements having nothing to do with his job, what he was paid for, or the product his business’s customers were paying for. Streeter doesn’t even address this, the threshold reason Kaepernick’s stunt was wrong without even considering its message, garbled as it was.
Nor does the sportswriter, who is black (I guessed!), bother to remind us of what Kaepernick, who is, to quote what I wrote when he first started kneeling, an idiot, said was the reason for his unethical protest. Here is how he explained it in 2016,
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
So what was he “right” about, Kurt?
Lots of things are “bigger than football,” but that doesn’t mean they belong on the football field. “There are bodies on the street” is a meaningless statement, emotion without context. At the time, the statement referred to the Ferguson police leaving Mike Brown’s body where it fell in order to investigate the shooting, which unscrupulous activists (and ignoramuses like Kaepernick) criticized as proof of the police’s disrespect for black bodies. There are also many, many bodies on the street that have been put there by black criminals, and police work to protect black communities from them.
“People getting paid leave” was a reference to the belief of Kaepernick and others who don’t know anything about the law, due process or basic fairness (or, in many cases, pretend those things don’t “matter”) that police officers in shooting incidents involving blacks should be presumed guilty and racist. They should lose their jobs without any determination of the facts. “Getting away with murder” is in the same incompetent category: Kaepernick was referring to the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Eric Garner, none of whom were “murdered.”
Most of all, the United States doesn’t “oppress” blacks and people of color. From Ethics Alarms in 2016:
Regarding the latter, the U.S. allows over 11 million illegal immigrants, mostly “of color,” remain in this country although they are here illegally. Spanish speaking people of color are not required to learn the language, as they should. The schools must accommodate their children, when they fail their parental responsibility of teaching them English, by providing translations of written material and oral instruction. The United States has distorted almost every aspect of society in long-standing, expensive, divisive and often futile efforts to undo the cultural disadvantages inflicted by slavery and institutionalized racism. 41.6 % of black Americans receive government assistance in an average month; 36.4 percent of Hispanics; 17.8 % of Asians or Pacific Islanders, contrasted with 13.2 % of whites. That’s not oppression. Affirmative action, whereby blacks receive college admission preferences over whites with similar or better test scores and academic credentials, is still allowed by the courts (though it should not be) and is still employed in a majority of colleges. That’s not oppression. The current Justice Department and other federal agencies have enacted policies, many of them of dubious value, that have been aimed at assisting African-Americans, such as prohibitions on renters seeking information about past criminal convictions. That’s not oppression either. Most important of all, U.S. culture emphatically rejects and punishes open expressions of racism, as well as a lot of speech and opinion that isn’t racist at all, but is punished anyway, just to be safe. That often constitutes oppression on behalf of people of color, and it is all-American.
Kaepernick, meanwhile, was then playing football under a 6 year, $114,000,000 contract including a $12,328,766 signing bonus, with $61,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $19,000,000. He certainly wasn’t being oppressed, especially since at the time of his protest, he also wasn’t a very good quarterback. So, so oppressed.
As Dorian Majied, an Army Ranger veteran who served in Iraq, responded to Kaepernick’s gesture of ingratitude and ignorance at the time,
“To disrespect the country that has afforded him the opportunities and fortunes he acquired is only made more offensive by the fact that his life is the personification of the ideals I see in the American flag and National Anthem: a biracial child, raised by white parents, and who has accomplished much despite his “oppression.” In how many more nations around the world can a story like that come to fruition?…Kaepernick was wrong in his delivery and protested the wrong symbols of America. The American flag and National Anthem represent the highest of American ideals, not the lowest ideals.”
So again, what was Colin Kaepernick right about? What did he demonstrate that, according to Streeter, “carried the profound weight of truth”? Get this…
We’ve seen the rise of white supremacy. The stream of police shootings. The killing of George Floyd. Protests, the coronavirus pandemic and the deadly storming of the Capitol. Kaepernick’s critique of America foretold it all.
There had been no “rise in white supremacy”…what does that even mean? A woman “of color” was just elected Vice-President based only on the fact that she was a woman of color, and little else. There has been no “stream of police shootings.” Police shootings have declined since Kaepernick’s stunt, and were already declining in 2015. “The killing of George Floyd” is now a cliche, but it has yet to be determined that Floyd was killed, and there is no evidence that racism had anything to do with it if he was. The protests were created by the racist organization that Kaepernick supports, Black Lives Matter, and fueled by disinformation like his. The riot at the Capitol had nothing to do with race whatsoever. (Note that Streeter calls that “deadly,” but not the “mostly peaceful” BLM protests, which killed far more.)
And Kaepernick foretold the pandemic?
Not only was Kaepernick not “right” about anything, Streeter is wrong about everything, and the Times editors were irresponsible to allow his disgraceful column to be published on the sports pages, not just because of its misrepresentations, but because of its pathetic lack of competent and objective analysis.
It is decent anti-American, progressive, Black Lives Matter propaganda, though. As sports coverage deteriorates in that direction, what was once a positive and uniting force in our culture becomes a poisonous one.