FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent

Art by Evan McCarthy | CC BY 2.0

Would women have the right to vote today if they were told by men to only protest inside their homes? Would African-Americans have equal protection under the law if the Civil Rights movement was confined to the churches? Would farmers and migrant workers have just working conditions in the fields if they were forced to boycott only when it suited the landowners? Would the students of Parkland accomplish anything in terms of gun reform if they were ordered to keep their opinions inside school walls?

The history of nonviolent social reform is a history of doing what is needed without asking for permission. Women fought for suffrage by going out to the streets and making their voice heard. African Americans refused to accept that their cause was simply a religious longing by mobilizing in public. Cesar Chavez and UFW did not obey the demands of the growers and corporations; they built a campaign that made the plight of farm workers visible for the world to see. And the Parkland students refused to follow the policies and restrictions of their school by calling for a nationwide walk out.

What will NFL players do now that the league has an official rule against kneeling during the national anthem? Even though there has been disagreement inside the league’s ownership ranks, on May 23, 2018,  team owners approved a new policy that gives players the option of staying in the locker room during the national anthem if they don’t wish to stand during the ceremonies. Under the new rule, players who choose to be on the field during the anthem will be required to stand. If a player chooses not to stand, that player’s team will be penalized by the NFL.

So the line has been drawn. How will the players respond? Will they take their protest against racism, police brutality, and systemic injustice inside where no one can see them or will they resist the order to obey and take the risk of being fined or even fired?

Time will tell. One thing is clear. The NFL owners have acted with genuine cowardice. Their call to get attention back on football is blatantly hypocritical. As if football is all they care about. As if selling beer, cars, merchandise, sex and tourism is not part of the NFL package. They say that it is important for players to honor the flag, anthem, and moment. They say that the NFL sponsored community programs is how real change is going to be made. They say that all players must stand on the field because that is what the fans want. They say that their unanimous decision respected everybody’s point of view the best they could. They say a lot. But what do the players say? What say do they have? What rights do they have to express their concerns peacefully? Who denied them the right to vote? Who silenced their voice?

As with every major social justice movement in this country-from women’s suffrage to the Parkland students fighting for gun reform-the only way that voices of dissent will be heard is for dissent to happen. The NFL owners have tried to silence their protest by hiding it in the locker room. The owners have tried to make this move about football when really it is about their own personal interests. And the owners have tried to take the attention off the issues, by making the issue about the players more than what they are sitting down for.

With that said, if history is any indicator, the owners are setting up the players to make this issue even more pressing. Whenever a hard line is drawn, courage is mustered to step over it. By raising the stakes, the owners have forced players to do things that they were not prepared to do before. As a strategy of suppression, it would have been much wiser for the owners to just let this protest carry on until people stopped caring.

More articles by:

George Payne is Director of Gandhi Earth Keepers International and Philosophy Instructor at Finger Lakes Community College.

December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail