This editorial is more attention than the person involved deserves. We grant you that.
But neither should it be ignored that a local elected leader – Augusta commissioner William Fennoy – is continuing to take a knee for the Pledge of Allegiance at the body’s meetings in 2018, as he started doing last fall.
He is, of course, mimicking what some National Football League players have done during the National Anthem to show their displeasure with America.
Whatever cause Fennoy thinks he’s advancing, he’s actually impeding. It’s highly doubtful many folks are persuaded to the point of view of someone who is insulting them.
And don’t fool yourself: This act is an insult to the country we love, and a blanket indictment against Americans of all races who have it in their heart and show it in their deeds to care about our fellow human beings regardless of ethnicity.
The civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s could not have been gloriously victorious without the entire spectrum of colors in this country getting behind it.
The NFL’s own experience this past year should be evidence enough of the ineffectiveness and counter-productivity of the repugnant displays its players initiated – and were never prevented from performing.
According to a recent report, “Television viewership declined nearly 10 percent across all networks during the 2016-2017 regular season, according to data from Nielsen, while an average NFL game was watched by 1.6 million fewer people in 2017 versus the prior year – an overall decline from 16.5 million to 14.9 million, according to ESPN.” That followed an 8 percent decline the year before.
There are various factors for the drop, but there can be no doubt that public fury over the anti-American protests, a backlash stoked by President Trump, have played a huge part.
Nor did the league have to allow this to happen, and to spread insidiously even into local chambers of government. While the league says it couldn’t prevent the displays due to the First Amendment, that claim stands in stark contrast to its fine last month of a New Orleans Saints player for wearing Christmas-themed cleats on his feet.
The league also loosened its rules this past season on player celebrations. What? You mean the players didn’t always have a First Amendment right to celebrate scores?
And how about penalties for taunting? Isn’t there a First Amendment right to ridicule an opponent?
There isn’t? But it’s completely permissible to insult the entire country?
Perhaps in other countries, led by illegitimate rulers who have never faced a free and fair election, and who therefore do not enjoy the consent of the governed, such a protest might be not only warranted but effective. And in America’s own past, there were times when it made absolute sense to stand up to the government – for enforcing immoral laws and customs that oppressed one race over another.
But in a free country, where the law protects whole classes of people from inequity – as does the conscience of the vast majority – to disrespect the country is to dishonor each other.
What’s truly sad is, there are issues and challenges facing this great nation that most of us could agree upon and work together on.
Insulting each other is hardly the way to promote that.