Several Miami Dolphins players joined Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest by kneeling during the national anthem last week. They faced backlash for using their freedom of expression in a harmless way, which I personally find ridiculous. You can disagree with Kaepernick and the Dolphins players, but you cannot make demands about how they express themselves. That is the opposite of freedom.
The Broward Sheriff’s Union is now asking for the police to stop escorting Miami players until the team forces them to stand. Wow. That definitely doesn’t sound very free to me.
Jeffery Bell, the president of the International Union of Police Associations, said:
“I respect their right to have freedom of speech. However, in certain organizations and certain jobs you give up that right of your freedom of speech temporary while you serve that job or while you play in an NFL game”
That is not how freedom of speech works. No one should lose their freedoms “temporarily” while they are working. I honestly cannot believe how absurd some of these arguments have become. These black athletes are protesting against racism and police brutality in a peaceful way that doesn’t affect anyone.Arian Foster, one of the players who knelt during the anthem, replied to the backlash:
“They say it’s not time to do this. Then when is the time? It’s never the time in someone else’s eye”
And this is the crux of the issue. White people also said that the Civil Rights Movement was moving “too fast” back in the 1960s. Whenever people with privilege are even exposed to thinking about what social advantages they have, they become upset. We need to understand that these truths about racism may make us uncomfortable, but we need to embrace them as reality if we care about reducing the suffering in our world. My friend Doug Zeigler made this great point on Facebook that really sums up how problematic these statements are:
Aren’t police supposed to “serve and protect?” They’re not allowed to pick and choose WHO they serve and protect, are they? Because if they are, then the police are making the players’ protest even more compelling.