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.

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail