December 13, 2018

How to Have a Civil Discussion about NFL Kneelers

“Here’s the thing: Both sides are talking past each other. The protesters argue that the anthem and the military are not the real targets of these demonstrations. Their detractors focus on Kaepernick, whose Fidel Castro T-shirts and blanket condemnations of the country make him the easiest protester to discredit, rather than other players who have been more thoughtful and nuanced.

And then there’s Trump, who appears downright cavalier toward and utterly dismissive of the concerns of people of color.

In an increasingly diverse country, treating patriotism and racial justice as if they are in conflict with each other is a terrible idea. This is even truer given the plain fact that the same chapters of American history will be viewed very differently by the descendants of slaves and those descended from slaveholders — and those of immigrant stock whose families arrived after the civil rights movement, much less the Civil War.

This is manifestly where our overly reductive national anthem debate takes us: You either care about issues of racial justice, particularly the shooting of young black men in questionable encounters with police, or you care about your country’s history, heroes, and symbols.

We can do better than this.”

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