Do NFL team owners (who act like they’re NFL “player” owners) have lawyers? If so, they should’ve been told about the 1943 West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette case wherein the Supreme Court declared that a government official (e.g., a fake president directly by issuing an executive order or indirectly by politically intimidating team owners, coaches, or any other taxpayer-funded entities) cannot physically or financially coerce anyone to stand during the presentation of The Star-Spangled Banner or to participate in any kind of patriotic behavior. The Justices, in a 6-3 ruling, proclaimed, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official ... can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics (or) nationalism ... or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
By the way, this Barnette ruling took into account what was happening during that same time period when Germany was exiling thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses to concentration camps for refusing to salute that country’s Nazi flag. And the orange fake president wearing the long red tie in the now-desecrated White House has expressed his desire to exile silently protesting players out of this country.
On Wednesday, following a unanimous vote by team owners (including the weaselly abstention of 49ers’ Jed York), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a new policy that imposes fines on teams, meaning ultimately on players, who, while on the sidelines, do not stand during the broadcasting of The Star-Spangled Banner.
The owners did this because they felt pressured by the racist fake president and his racist constituency. If you don’t believe me, believe Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones who said, “[Trump] certainly initiated some of the thinking and was part of the entire picture.”
This blatant violation of free speech and blatant imposition of censorship are in reactionary response to the courageous stand — actually courageous kneel — of heroic former 49ers star quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Two years ago at a preseason game, Kaepernick sat during the playing of the national anthem.
He said he did that because “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people .... There’s a lot of things that needs to change. One ... is police brutality. There... [are] people being murdered ... and [cops] not being held accountable. Cops are getting paid leave for killing people.”
He’s right, you know. In fact, more innocent Blacks have been killed by police each week since 2015 than were lynched by mobs each week from 1882-1890. That’s a fact.
He’s also right in using The Star-Spangled Banner as his platform and that’s because it’s a racist song written by a slave-owner. In the third stanza of that song which initially was written as a poem in 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote: “No refuge could save the... slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave. And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” This stanza glorified the murder of Blacks who escaped U.S. slavery and gained freedom by enlisting as paid soldiers in Britain’s Corps of Colonial Marines during combat with America in the War of 1812 and The Battle of Fort McHenry in 1814. Key, a wealthy so-called slave-owner, advocated for the wholesale extermination of those Black soldiers contrary to accepted rules of international warfare. Furthermore, he said Black men, women, and children are an “inferior race of people.”
Let’s move from the racist anthem back to the racist NFL. Many people would be shocked to learn that the league officially banned Black players in 1934 after having several before then, including the first two in 1920, namely Frederick Douglass “Fritz” Pollard and Robert Wells “Bobby” Marshall.
Pollard, a chemistry major at Brown University, also became the NFL’s first Black head coach. Marshall, a pre-law major at the University of Minnesota, was not only outstanding in football but also in track, boxing, and ice hockey. Prior to playing pro football, Marshall was a prominent attorney and played semi-pro baseball before the Negro National League was formed.
After 1934, the NFL, previously known as the American Professional Football Association, didn’t have another Black player until 1946 when the L.A. Rams signed UCLA football and baseball superstar Kenny Washington as its running back. But that wasn’t because the Rams were racially altruistic. It was because they had just moved from Cleveland to the brand new- and taxpayer-funded- L.A. Memorial Coliseum. That means Black taxpayers in L.A. helped finance that stadium just like Black taxpayers all across the country today help finance NFL stadiums and teams.
Despite the NFL’s blitz on free speech, the First Amendment has a strong offensive line called the ACLU, which issued a public announcement pointing out that “Respect ... for America doesn’t require blindness to America’s failure to honor its promise of racial justice ... failures that are made even more evident each time the police murder a person of color and get away with it.”
In addition, the ACLU started a petition drive at https://action.aclu.org/petition/nfl-dont-silence-your-players and created the #TakeAKnee hashtag.
Despite the teams’ owners’ racism, I don’t blame the 100 percent of them who voted for or raised no objection to this new policy. I also don’t blame the 99 percent of them who are white. Instead, I blame the 70 percent of the teams’ players who are Black.
If all of them united and boycotted, the owners would be compelled to rescind the policy and not take any breach of contract action against any of them. The owners also would be compelled to more equitably share their massive profits by providing raises to the players and premium lifetime health care to the retirees for concussions, all because of the players’ increased bargaining power stemming from such a strong showing of labor solidarity.
We need more Kaepernicks, more Muhammad Alis, more Kareem Abdul-Jabbars, more Tommie Smiths and more John Carloses. In other words, we need more “Noblemen For Liberty” and fewer “Negroes For Lease.”
I hate racist whites. But I hate scared Negroes even more.