Patriotism Embraces Nonviolence in the NFL

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick . This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.Author: Daniel Hartwig.

It’s time—no, it’s way overdue—to pay tribute to people of color in the United States for their self-restraint  in response to centuries of violent racist resistance to their pursuit of democracy.

If we are going to accept the Miriam Webster definition of “patriotism” as “love for or devotion to one’s country” (which is not the same thing as the easily-manipulated symbols of flags and anthems),  and if “patriotism” also means love and respect for democracy and social justice (which it should), then the patriotism of countless people of color in this country far exceeds that of the white beneficiaries of the military industrial complex.

It seems almost miraculous that violent race wars are rare almost to the point of non-existence (other than during the near-genocide perpetrated on the native people by the European colonists) when decade after decade people have been beaten, tortured, murdered, and (equally-harmfully) robbed of resources, dignity, and respect.

How have people been able to tolerate so much violence perpetrated for no real reason except that their skin was not deemed white enough by the power brokers—or that they were pinpointed as easily identifiable scapegoats for diverting the rage of paler people convinced (often correctly) that they were not getting a fair break?

Gene Sharp [see here and here  and here] has advocated nonviolent resistance as the most effective response to tyranny (and racism is tyrannical), because tyrants always have more killing and destructive power than their victims.

Fascism may seem to be spreading like lice in the fabric of this nation, but we have seen some great examples this year of nonviolent resistance to the social, psychological, economic, educational, and environmental brutality of a greedy and racist power structure.

Recently,  a notable example of nonviolent protest in action is the stance of Colin Kaepernick, and a growing number of supporters, who have refused to stand up robotically in enforced homage to an anthem and a flag whose benefits have never been offered freely to people of color.  Since when is kneeling down or joining arms antipatriotic?

It is those protestors who should be honored for pursuing true democracy.

(For more on the long history of race, sports, and politics in the US, click here)





This entry was posted in capitalism, colonialism, Democracy, Genocide, Military-industrial complex, Nonviolence, Patriotism, politics, Protest, racism, resistance, social justice, Torture, Understanding violence and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Patriotism Embraces Nonviolence in the NFL

  1. Gold Dust Twin says:

    William Rivers Pitt has a very good post on Truthout about Kaepernick’s protest, which provides an important context for the current situation.
    Pitt explains:
    “Months before Trump won the 2016 election, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to observe standard protocol during the national anthem before a preseason game to protest police violence against Black people. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said at the time. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
    Pitt goes on to comment: “If further proof that the United States is a profoundly racist nation were needed, look no further than the fact that Kaepernick’s decision to stage his protest during the national anthem seems to be of more concern to our federal government than all the people of color who have been shot down by cops.”
    Consistent with the engaging peace posts on nonviolent resistance, Pitt argues, “Effective protest disrupts the accepted order of things, ruffles feathers, channels thought and discussion in new directions. Effective protest rattles the cage. Protest is a cherished American tradition going all the way back to Crispus Attucks, another Black man whose body fell in the street after the authorities opened fire.”
    It’s a good article!

  2. Tim Malley says:

    I would like to share a post by a friend, a British American citizen, about the recent comments of General Jay Silveria:

    Hi All,

    I have rarely been so proud to be an American as when I listened to this man speak. I also feel great shame. It should not fall to a three-star general to speak so eloquently and uncompromisingly for American ideals. That is the job of his boss, the commander in chief.

    One of our nation’s founding principles was equality for all. The compromise of allowing “that peculiar institution” of slavery to endure for “four score and seven years” after our country’s founding cost many lives and a legacy of social division lasting to this day. A period of 241 years, almost a quarter of a millennium spent paying the price for an injustice that should have long been cast aside with a heartfelt apology. Thankfully we have evolved. We have come a long way but, it seems, not far enough. Our inability to speak openly of prejudice and bigotry leaves a festering sore in our society.

    America is better than the image we currently project. Our civilian leadership should be the ones at the forefront of decrying racism and divisiveness. Yet, sadly, it has fallen to a soldier and educator to do that. Please take five minutes to hear what General Jay Silveria says about an inexcusable incident at the Air Force Academy prep-school. He is a true American and speaks for the majority.

    Until next time,


  3. T. Paine says:

    These brave athletes of today are following the tradition of anti-racism/human rights protest shown by African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
    In condemning and threatening them, Donald Trump is violating Constitutional rights rather than addressing the issues. This protest reminds me of the courage of Mohammad Ali, who spoke out at a time when few others dared speak out against government wrongs; ultimately millions of others gained the courage to protest as well.
    These demonstrations against racism also bring to mind the brave combat vets whose protests against the Vietnam War resulted in their being banned from the St. Pats Day parade in Boston—also flouting Constitutional rights.

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