“Taking a knee” stands for the specter of beefy, pampered athletes—they’re not sportsmen—wealthy beyond belief, striking a political pose on the football field, during the playing of the national anthem.
First to kneel when he was meant to stand was Colin Kaepernick. The reason the San Francisco 49er knelt, in 2016: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Like Kaepernick, current kneelers are not Copernicus. It’s hard to fathom what they actually want. A non-player activist has since narrowed the kneeling to “ending the killing of black men and black women by the police.”
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To question the debasing of the English language, in this context, is probably considered racist, but I’ll take one for Team English. At first, I knew not what on earth “take a knee” meant. Commentators and anchors discussed this god-awful expression without explaining it. And my connection to American football is as weak as the connection Americans have to one another.
I grew up on a sports diet of basketball and real football—the kind Pelé played without a dog muzzle and with dazzling footwork. South African rugby, too, was faster and more fun than American football. Nevertheless, I root for my home team, the Seattle Seahawks.
Why so? We all inhabit this busy mart called America, but are united by nothing meaningful at all. The football fetish in America has intensified in the context of a country whose inhabitants agree on little else than the importance of The Game. Consequently, come playoff time, we come together fleetingly and superficially, to make a religion out of our respective professional football teams.
“Take a knee” must have originated in some linguistic botching, a lazy collapsing of alliteratively related words and phrases. I mean, you can “kneel,” “kneel down,” or “get down on your knees.” You most certainly can “bow down” or “take a bow.” But, “Take a knee”? It sounds like an adaptation from “take a p-e.” Actually, I’m not far off. The Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. “had been flagged … for unsportsmanlike conduct when he celebrated a touchdown by impersonating a dog urinating.”
English and etiquette aside, the act is melodramatic. You get down on your knees to pray, to beg for forgiveness or beg for your life. What these N.F.L showmen are doing is strike a pose—choreographed for prime-time television. When the players kneel, link arms, sulk in their locker-rooms, during the playing of the national anthem, they’re acting not as sportsmen but as showmen.
A sportsman used to embody a certain set of shared values. He set an example in his steeliness, resiliency, strength and singular focus. The spoilt men of the N.F.L. stand unafraid in the presence of … what? American moms, dads and their kids?
What we have here are men who belong to a fraternity famous not for good works, but for scandals, excesses and brutality. Ray Rice knocked his wife unconscious on camera, Michael Vick ran an unspeakably cruel dog-fighting ring. Adrian Peterson whipped his son (who probably needed it). Aaron Hernandez and Jovan Belcher committed the ultimate sin. On and on.
The most righteous players of the showy pro football lineup are not those parading their pigment burden to the nation; they’re sportsmen like Aaron Rodgers, Eli and Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady, who give oodles to charity without a song and dance.
To be fair, Colin Kaepernick has recently donated $1 million. It’s safe to assume, however, that not a penny did Kaepernick donate to white families whose sons were killed by cop. For example: Erik B. Scott, a decorated ex-Army officer, West Point grad and Duke University MBA, who was shot to death by Las Vegas cops. Erik’s father, Bill, is an ex-USAF officer and former aerospace journalist, who consults on the topic of police brutality. But while Bill, a rightist, seeks justice for all, the National Football League racists care only for their own tribe. Likewise, the Left awakens to “the epidemic of police brutality in every state of the union” only when black lives are concerned.
The tribalism of “kneelism” sums up the state of the progressive project. Like the Antifa Idiocracy, N.F.Lers are generally not the smartest. Bereft of the faculty of logic or reason, these excitable, histrionic hulks can’t debate or argue effectively. Lacking words or wisdom, the kneelers resort to inappropriate displays and gestures aimed at the self, at self-aggrandizement.
Kneeling is the ultimate selfie, beamed to the country and blasted by the president himself.
In more ways than one, “taking the knee” is like taking a p-e. It’s a waste. It speaks to the inward-looking, ego-driven, vain posturing of the Left and its perpetually seething, predatory racial coalition. They’re bent on extracting something from innocent, ordinary Americans who owe them nothing.
Pontificating about patriotism is probably misplaced. The opening ritual at the taxpayer-subsidized pro football games is no more than a test of manners and etiquette. The Black Lives Matter players are expected to make nice during the national anthem, nothing more: “Stand up straight and don’t pull faces.” You needn’t believe in the song; you just have to be polite about it. Even if he opposes the monarchy, the British republican still musters a bow or a curtsy for the queen. He has the good breeding to respect protocol and the feelings of others.
Partaking in civilization entails knowing there is a time for everything. There is a time for activism and a time to do what you’re paid to do.
Mostly, pro football players are just fools and possibly knaves. Underpinning their cretinous case against “America” is a confusion of category. Kneelers are protesting “a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
A country—America in this case—can’t oppress people; only specific individual Americans can. Erik Scott’s story is the story of the best of America gunned down and rubbished by the worst. Did his father, Bill Scott, blame all his countrymen? No. Braveheart Bill pursued the culprit and the cops who covered for him.
You can’t blame a collective for harm done to you, unless each individual within that collective has harmed you. Seattle Seahawks: There was no need to insult the fans in Nashville—where my former team played the Tennessee Titans—unless each one of them had damaged you in some palpable, provable way.
The Seahawks dissed the fans to show they “oppose those that [sic] would deny our most basic freedoms.” But which fan in that Nashville stadium denied any one of the Seahawk players his “most basic freedoms”? Number and name them or shut up and play.
Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly paleolibertarian column since 1999, and is the author of The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016) & Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011). Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube