Wednesday, 27 September 2017
The Painless Knee: Some Questions

by James Como

These days if I were to “take a knee” the crackling would wake the neighbors and there’s a good chance I wouldn’t make it back up, at least not for a while. I would be paying a price, as is the case, for example, when I (try to) genuflect at Mass, first leaning, then hoisting, on the arm of a nearby pew. So, to those exceptionally privileged – but this is not about the current distension of that trendy word: I trust no one is silly enough to contest my use here of ‘privilege’ – to those privileged athletes who take a knee, four questions: 1/ What price are you paying?  2/ Have you thought out – really thought out – your gesture, to the extent that you can make a reasoned argument?  3/ What, if any, allegiance do you owe to the United States (or, for that matter, to your game and its fans) above your Cause?  4/ What, finally, is your point?

We are living in the age of gestures, bumper stickers, initials, abbreviated tweets, chants, placards, emojis, protests, riots, and other shortcuts to meaning that I’m sure I’ve overlooked. I’m not asking for any of those, e.g. “we disrespect a flag that disrespects us,” “black people cannot be racist,” “we live in two nations,” “no matter our salaries, we are merely high-priced slaves.” That sort of thing. Unacceptable. Singly or in combination those thought-substitutes, all clichés, do not add up to an argument, let alone a case, in support of taking a knee at the playing of the National Anthem, with all the specific symbolism, context, history, and purpose thereunto appertaining. I dismiss them precisely because they militate against the honest conversation that so many people ask for.

Here I must become the communication professor I was for fifty years: in human communication intent never equals impact. In other words, you seem to have lost control of your message, which happens especially in cases where the message is inchoate to begin with. That is why I hope you will see that I’m not really asking questions; I’m asking a favor. I’m confused. I’d like you to use words, not feelings or symbolic action. I’m asking that you explain, convince, argue, converse. You have my attention. In that light I offer some thoughts that together may add up to a portrait of my dilemma.

If you wanted to make a statement respecting the unwarranted loss of black lives at the hands of police, then why a second, or a fifth, time? Or is it racial injustice generally that you protest against? But since (you tell me) that’s not going away any time soon, why stop at the field (or include it in the first place, where there doesn’t seem to be any)? Or did you protest the National Anthem precisely to shame the country – in perpetuity? If so, have you said so? Was your purpose to divide (intent)? Surely you must have known that veterans, police, and millions of ordinarily patriotic citizens would take umbrage (impact) – or did you? Do you recall when President Obama thoughtlessly called the police “stupid” when they arrested Henry Louis Gate, Jr.? (He would learn better.) Did he mean to divide, as surely he did (and not for the last time)? Or is your gesture, as one commentator has suggested, an expression of love for your country – a distinctive expression unaccompanied by any other? 

We all have a Cause, or even Causes. I recall hearing the great radical trial lawyer William Kunstler saying that no one on the Left should ever criticize anyone on the Left, for any reason (and that included the demonic Pol Pot). The Cause comes first, and last. Is that the case here? If not, I’d like to hear how not – how the Cause does not rule. That is, I’d like to know what boundaries, if any, exist. Be specific. What exactly are the targets of your protest? Its goals? Is your gesture intended to be corrective, destructively revolutionary (there can be no fixing this house), or merely accusatory? (“Shame!  Shame!”  Well, I’ve been ashamed of myself, and in this case I find nothing to be ashamed of, unless being white is shameful enough, in which case – say so. I’d like to hear that. Everyone should hear that. Out loud.)

As for the first question, the one about the price you pay. What, other than taking a knee, are you ready to do? Will you, for example, visit a VFW hall, or West Point, to tell soldiers directly that they fought for a worthless, even criminal, nation? Or a local precinct (or turn to the cops behind you on the sidelines), to say something equivalent directly to police? I’ve heard that the money you make should play no role in the criticism you’ve received, but I disagree. For example, have you thought to pony up, say, $10,000 to a group that supports your protest every time you kneel? Or do you want the game without any real blame, blame that might hurt beyond the (oh-so-helpful) criticism from a largely unpopular president? 

Because that’s how it looks. As it is, kneeling on the field during the anthem seems little more than exhibitionistic. (Or do you really think you are “speaking truth to power,” another cliché?)  Simply put, right now you seem  more like hijackers, children acting out at a party to spoil the fun; unfocused, shallow, facile mischief-makers. (Jim Brown said he wouldn’t take a knee, he’d take action, as Ali did: there was a price. A fifth question: are there any real Stand Up Guys among you?)

Of course I realize that you may think all the hash has been settled, that reason intrudes upon sincere passion (well, it does) and that nothing counts more than passion (or feels better: so righteous), that arguing (not quarreling, very different) is a waste of time, and that anyone who needs an explanation is beyond understanding in the first place, is really one of them – with their flags, and patriotism, and national pieties – not one of us, deplorable. So why bother? Well, then, say that. It would answer a lot of questions.

And if you “keep on keeping on”? That, too, will answer a lot of questions. Maybe haters really do have to hate.

Posted on 09/27/2017 8:54 AM by James Como
27 Sep 2017
Greyhound Fancier
Thank you, and well said! I heard an interesting take on this situation yesterday -- that the kneelers by their actions demonstrated a wedge between patriotism and agreement with their grievances. That is a terrible mistake. If your cause is right, convince Americans that the patriotic thing to do is to be on your side!

Order on Amazon or Amazon UK today!

Order on Amazon or Amazon UK today!

Order on Amazon or Amazon UK today!



Adam Selene (2) A.J. Caschetta (7) Adam Smith (1) Ahnaf Kalam (2) Alexander Murinson (1) Andrew E. Harrod (3) Andrew Harrod (5) Anne-Christine Hoff (1) Bat Ye'or (6) Bill Corden (7) Bradley Betters (1) Brex I Teer (9) Brian of London (32) Bruce Bawer (31) Carol Sebastian (1) Christina McIntosh (869) Christopher DeGroot (2) Conrad Black (774) Daniel Mallock (6) David Ashton (1) David J. Baldovin (3) David P. Gontar (7) David Solway (78) David Wemyss (1) Devdutta Maji (1) Dexter Van Zile (75) Donald J. Trump (1) Dr. Michael Welner (3) E. B Samuel (1) Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff (1) Emmet Scott (1) Eric Rozenman (15) Esmerelda Weatherwax (10161) Fergus Downie (23) Fred Leder (1) Friedrich Hansen (7) G. Murphy Donovan (78) G. Tod Slone (1) Gary Fouse (185) Geert Wilders (13) Geoffrey Botkin (1) Geoffrey Clarfield (350) George Rojas (1) Hannah Rubenstein (3) Hesham Shehab and Anne-Christine Hoff (1) Hossein Khorram (2) Howard Rotberg (33) Hugh Fitzgerald (21503) Ibn Warraq (10) Ilana Freedman (2) James Como (26) James Robbins (1) James Stevens Curl (4) Janet Charlesworth (1) Janice Fiamengo (4) jeffrey burghauser (2) Jenna Wright (1) Jerry Gordon (2524) Jerry Gordon and Lt. Gen. Abakar M. Abdallah (6) Jesse Sandoval (1) John Constantine (122) John Hajjar (6) John M. Joyce (394) John Rossomando (1) Jonathan Ferguson (1) Jonathan Hausman (4) Jordan Cope (1) Joseph S. Spoerl (10) Kenneth Francis (2) Kenneth Hanson (1) Kenneth Lasson (1) Kenneth Timmerman (29) Lawrence Eubank (1) Lev Tsitrin (35) Lorna Salzman (9) Louis Rene Beres (37) Manda Zand Ervin (3) Marc Epstein (9) Mark Anthony Signorelli (11) Mark Durie (7) Mark Zaslav (1) Martha Shelley (1) Mary Jackson (5065) Matthew Hausman (53) Matthew Stewart (2) Michael Curtis (807) Michael Rechtenwald (69) Mordechai Nisan (2) Moshe Dann (1) NER (2594) New English Review Press (135) Nidra Poller (75) Nikos A. Salingaros (1) Nonie Darwish (10) Norman Berdichevsky (86) Paul Oakley (1) Paul Weston (5) Paula Boddington (1) Peter McGregor (1) Peter McLoughlin (1) Philip Blake (1) Phyllis Chesler (251) Rebecca Bynum (7253) Reg Green (40) Richard Butrick (24) Richard Kostelanetz (19) Richard L. Benkin (21) Richard L. Cravatts (7) Richard L. Rubenstein (44) Robert Harris (85) Sally Ross (36) Sam Bluefarb (1) Sam Westrop (2) Samuel Chamberlain (2) Sha’i ben-Tekoa (1) Springtime for Snowflakes (4) Stacey McKenna (1) Stephen Schecter (1) Steve Hecht (35) Sumner Park (1) Ted Belman (8) The Law (90) Theodore Dalrymple (989) Thomas J. Scheff (6) Thomas Ország-Land (3) Tom Harb (4) Tyler Curtis (1) Walid Phares (33) Winfield Myers (1) z - all below inactive (7) z - Ares Demertzis (2) z - Andrew Bostom (74) z - Andy McCarthy (536) z - Artemis Gordon Glidden (881) z - DL Adams (21) z - John Derbyshire (1013) z - Marisol Seibold (26) z - Mark Butterworth (49) z- Robert Bove (1189) zz - Ali Sina (2)
Site Archive