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What We’re Missing About the NFL Protests

There has been so much talk about the NFL protests that I don’t know that my opinion will make any difference, but I do feel that some important questions are being ignored and some vital facts are being glossed over.

I am greatly saddened by the division in our country. A lot of what’s going on doesn’t make any sense to me.

First, what are the NFL “take-a-knee” protests supposed to accomplish? When will we know that the goal of the protests has been met and the grievances have been satisfied? If the answer is “Never; The outrage is too great,” then the protests are pointless because they are not making a difference. Why not do something else that will actually solve the problem?

Second, what are they protesting? If you say they are protesting that the police discriminate against African-Americans in the frequency of everything from traffic stops to unjustifiable shootings, why would you protest the National Anthem? America doesn’t make the police discriminate. And if now, after some intemperate remarks by the president, the protests are against him, why would they think that is a way to protest the president? The president is not America. The president is not the National Anthem. The president is not the flag. America is a much bigger idea than one president or the police.

The protests are particularly difficult to understand coming from these players, most of whom America has lavished with praise and millions of dollars in income. Many of them enrich themselves simply by attaching their names to a product as “influencers” and “spokesmen”. Why would they protest America, when the country has been so good to them?

These players benefit from the protection the police give them from everyone from over-enthusiastic fans to opportunists who would try to separate them from their money. Why would they protest the police? One answer, you might be saying, is to show solidarity with those common people who are victimized by the police.

There’s a big problem with that, though. “Hands up, don’t shoot” was a lie. A straight-up lie perpetrated by Michael Brown’s friend because that friend knew that Michael Brown was attacking the police officer who shot him. So, the whole basis for “Black Lives Matter” is a lie. Millions believe that there are racist cops out there who are targeting blacks to the point that many innocent police officers have been assassinated. So if that’s the basis for the protests, then the protests are a lie also.

Are there racist cops? Probably there are a few. But to target all policeman because there may be a few bad apples is nothing less than class bigotry, no different from the racial bigotry of those who say all blacks are lazy or all Mexicans are dirty. Even if there ARE racist cops, not ALL cops are racist. Those who unjustifiably shoot people do get punished.

The policeman who shot Michael Brown was under attack. Michael Brown was trying to take his gun to shoot him. If Michael Brown had succeeded, the officer would be dead and Michael Brown would likely be in prison for life as a cop killer. The officer defended himself and Michael Brown is dead because he didn’t respect authority. It would have made no difference if the officer was black. Brown’s problem was with authority. He demonstrated that when he shoplifted from a convenience store earlier that same day. He didn’t believe the law applied to him and that’s what got him killed.

It is not the police’s fault that the percentage of violent crime committed by African-Americans is two-and-a-half times their percentage of the population, but that does mean the police intersect with African-Americans more than they do some other groups.

But that’s the problem isn’t it: we so quickly go to lumping people into groups, whether it’s black and white or cops and blacks or Republicans and Democrats or men and women, everyone rages against the “other”. Shouldn’t we see one another as individuals and look beyond the superficial, external differences we have? Shouldn’t we first assume the best about and if we find out something about someone that causes us to have a less than ideal opinion of them, we should not say, “All cops are…”, “All blacks are…”, “All Republicans are…” and so on.

The minute we ascribe the attributes of a few individuals to an entire group, we have crossed over into bigotry. Whether the group is cops or African-Americans or Republicans or women or whatever, making judgments based on skin color, profession, political leanings, gender, etc. is bigotry.

During this national discussion, some African-Americans have posted on social media that “All white people are…” or “Kill all white people.” That is bigotry, because the only thing ALL white people are is white. Other than that, white people, or black people, or men, or cops, or the members of any group are all very different.

So when you see a cop, do you know you may also be seeing a Christian, a Democrat, a union member, a pick-up basketball player, an amateur musician, a husband, a father and much more?

And when you see an African-American man, do you know you may also be seeing a Christian, a Democrat, a union member, a pick-up basketball player, an amateur musician, a husband, a father and much more?

If we look beyond the surface labels, we will often find we have much more in common than what divides us. Perhaps we shouldn’t let those things divide us at all.

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