Liberals and conservatives, please just shut the fuck up about NFL players kneeling during the anthem.
Some background, for those unaware. A few years ago 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to protest police brutality and institutional racism by kneeling during the U.S. national anthem. This protest spread to teams across the league. From league bigwigs and many fans came a strong and swift backlash. The Intercept reports that "one executive literally called Kaepernick a 'traitor' and another said he was the most hated player in the league since Rae Carruth -- a convicted murderer." Bear in mind that Kaepernick's been blacklisted, but child beaters (Adrian Peterson), racist bullies (Richie Incognito), rapists (take your pick), and suspected murderers (Ray Lewis) have had careers well after their misdeeds came to light.
Now the NFL has banned players' kneeling during the anthem. The league will apply collective punishment against entire teams if so much as one player kneels. The league would like to portray the new policy as a compromise, since players have the option to remain in the locker room during the anthem. But what good is a protest when nobody is allowed to see it? This parallels the state's policy of "free speech zones," i.e., small, isolated, heavily policed areas where protestors can be hidden from the wider public.
At any rate, the NFL commissioner's justification for the harsh crackdown on the kneelers is that it "will keep our focus on the game."
A nice blurb, but also bullshit. The NFL has never shied away from mixing sport and politics. Just watch. Your typical game might start with a fly-over by the U.S. Air Force. Then come the close-ups of soldiers being treated to a free game at the invitation of the league; as the camera pans over these soldiers, they are lionized by the announcers. Then maybe there's a ceremony for the soldiers. And all that's before threats of unemployment (for the players) and violence (for fans in the stands) are employed to get most people to stand for the national anthem, which is tied to the military in many ways (flags, its performance by military members). This glorification of the military continues for the rest of the game.
So the NFL loves politics, so long as it's the politics of supporting the military.
Support for the military is politics through and through. But it's not recognized as such. In the U.S. (and probably most everywhere else) the state has so legitimized itself that what it actually does is "beyond" politics. How its does these things is really what constitutes politics. So, elections -- not politics. Supporting one candidate over another, or gossiping about their salacious sex lives -- that's politics. Unconditional support for the military? Not political. Debating which country to attack? The very pinnacle of American political life!
Indeed, conservatives and liberals are on the same page when it comes to the NFL protests. Conservatives say: stand so as to better honor "our" military. Liberals say: kneel so as to better honor "our" military.
I mean, just look at what CNN's Chris Cillizza wrote:
"If you take Trump at his word in the statement released Monday night, the only way that you can show love and appreciation for those who have fought and died for our country is to stand with your hand over your heart during the playing of the National Anthem. That's it. That's the only route.
"Take a step back. What are Americans fighting and dying in foreign countries fighting and dying for, if not the right of free expression, of the freedom to speak your mind without fear?"
(This from the man whose job it is to make fun of Donald Trump speeches in minute detail, and who is a "cuck" in the gutter parlance of the human dust behind Trump. The point is, he's pretty liberal. And still he prostrates himself before the bosses' imperial legions.)
Even the kneeling players are quick to clarify that they are not protesting the military, but rather police racism.
Because there's one thing you don't do in the U.S., and that is question the military. The military has...
three million people under arms
an annual budget of over a half-trillion dollars (1/3rd of the world's total military spending)
troops in over 130 countries
the ability to bomb whoever the fuck it wants, with impunity
and still it can't fucking handle even the slightest and most tangential protest.