Let’s start with clarity. The NFL players who refuse to stand for the National Anthem do not have a Constitutional right to do so without possible consequences. The First Amendment’s free speech clause prohibits government entities from preventing free speech, with some rare exceptions.
However, a private business is not bound by the First Amendment. If an employee says or does something that the employer deems to be detrimental to the business, the employer may choose to reprimand the employee or may simply fire him.
For example, let’s visit a car salesman who works at a Ford dealership. On the wall behind his desk, there is a sign that reads, “If you voted for Trump, you should not be allowed behind the wheel.” His boss sees the sign and says, “Get that down now! Are you out of your mind?”
“I’m expressing my right of free speech,” the salesman declares. “I can say anything I want in this country.”
The boss replies, “I am not going to allow you to insult half the customers who walk through our doors. Take it down, or you’re fired.”
The salesman refuses to do so and is summarily fired. He has no legal ground to challenge his dismissal. The dealership is a private entity, not a government one.
Now let’s get back to the NFL. It is a private entity, and the team owners have every right to fire players who say or do things that they regard as damaging to their enterprise, such as kneeling during the National Anthem. Or the NFL could decide that such actions by the players are perfectly fine with them and that they will support their actions, even if those actions offend millions of Americans. Apparently, the latter is the current position of the NFL.
But the NFL, which has been bleeding fans for over a year, has just started the process of its own suicide. Millions of Americans will not tolerate an organization that endorses disrespect for the American flag and/or the National Anthem. Already great numbers of former NFL fans are choosing to boycott games, turn in their season tickets, burn their team’s jerseys and other paraphernalia, or simply stop watching games on television. Many are contacting the companies that sponsor the NFL and urging them to drop their advertising. If this continues, every team in the league will suffer huge revenue losses.
Can the League reverse itself and bring back the fan base? I doubt it. Oh, it can declare that the teams will no longer be on the field during the National Anthem, but will the players accept the loss of their unique venue? Will they then turn to adding stickers on their helmets with a similar protest messages? Will a player who scores a touchdown point up to the American flag and take a knee? Will the League then suspend players for such behavior and risk a full-blown boycott by its players?
A complete crackdown on any political messages is the only way for the NFL to survive, but I don’t see them having the guts to do it. We shall see.
In the meantime, the whole kneeling protest movement is based on lies. We are supposed to believe that police are routinely brutalizing blacks and/or killing them for no apparent reason except inherent racism. But where is the proof?
Heather MacDonald, in her book The War Against the Cops, debunks the racism charge. Consider her research:
The Washington Post police shooting data base and federal crime statistics show that whites and Hispanics who are homicide victims are killed by police 12% of the time, while blacks are killed by police only 4% of the time. The Post also reports that, in 2016, 16 unarmed blacks were killed by police. (Being designated as “unarmed” does not exclude other means of force against a police officer.)
Armed and violent suspects are disproportionately black. The U.S. Justice Department reports that blacks in 75 of the largest counties make up 15% of the population but are charged with 62% of the robberies, 45% of the assaults, and 57% of the murders.
In New York City, blacks are 23% of the population but commit 75% of all shootings. Whites make up 34% of the population but commit only 2% of the shootings.
In 2014, more blacks (over 6,000) were murdered than whites and Hispanics combined. With very rare exceptions, they were killed by other blacks.
A police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black man; an unarmed black man is 18.5 times less likely to be killed by a police officer.
Since 2015, when groups like Black Lives Matters and individuals like Al Sharpton began to drum up anti-police rhetoric, crime in cities with large black populations has exploded. In Cleveland, homicides are up 90%, and in Washington D.C., they are up 54%. In 56 of the largest cities in America, homicides are up 17%.
From January to June of this year, 2300 people had been shot in Chicago. During that period, police shot 12 people, which is one half of one percent of all shootings.
Roland Fryer, a black economics professor at Harvard, has studied police shootings in ten major cities. He has concluded that there is virtually no evidence of racial bias in these altercations.
So, a large portion of NFL players take a knee during the National Anthem to protest police shootings and/or brutality. Or, in general, they believe that the United States is a racist nation that oppresses minorities. Either way, where is the evidence? There is none.
This kneeling issue has morphed into the NFL v. Trump. The NFL defends a non-existent narrative, while Trump defends that American Flag and National Anthem. Sorry, players; Trump wins this one.