Remember when “taking a knee” used to be a sign of respect? Like in church to honor God. Or at a football game when players on both sides took a knee if a player from either side was injured. Traditionally, men kneel when asking their intended to marry them. Longer ago, men used to kneel when accepting the honor of being knighted.
Additionally, kids often kneel when tying their shoes and parents frequently kneel to communicate with their little ones. In the military, one often kneels to line up a shot–or kneel ever so briefly on the way to the ground as you bleed out.
Today when one hears or reads about taking a knee, you are faced with a controversial racial issue, ignited in the NFL, with both sides claiming the moral high ground. What happened? To answer, it is useful to break the answer into three parts:
- Validity of the underlying cause
- Who cares?
The legal part is easy. Employees are legally allowed to protest on the job. Employers are legally allowed to either not hire or to fire protesting employees. Customers can choose to support or boycott enterprises with protesting employees(no legal statement needed here).
The kneelers make the validity of the underlying cause hard to see with any clarity. I often hear the kneeling will continue until, “There is social justice and equality for all.” That is either naively or intentionally completely vague. What are the specific injustices and inequalities? Can the kneelers speak intelligently about them? How do those specifics compare with the injustices and inequalities created by things like our failing public schools, especially those in inner cities, the slaughter in the streets of Chicago or the destruction of our black families by welfare policies that pay to keep dads out of the home? Name real injustice and inequality specifics that form a large enough percentage of our overall problem as to merit taking finite resources to address them, and many will join you. I certainly will.
In other words, let’s not have a repeat of wearing “Hands up, don’t shoot!.” That was a hoax from the beginning when 10-12 eyewitnesses made that argument on behalf of the slain Michael Brown, claiming that is what Mr. Brown did and said prior to being killed by a police officer. None of those witnesses showed up to testify in court, and tellingly none of them had any supporting photos or video. And there is always video when law enforcement might be in the wrong. But protesters–violent and peaceful–were not about to let a good cliche go to waste, and the lie lives on in the form of athletes and people wearing those t-shirts and “quoting” the lie.
One of the things missing from the conversation about race is the many things that can easily–and passionately–be confused with racism. I am a white male, but over the decades I have been spit at, flipped off, attacked by a group of young men, insulted in some truly scurrilous ways, been stolen from several times, been treated unjustly on the job–the list goes on. If I was black, how easy would it be for me to ascribe race as the cause for any and all of these hundreds of incidents?
Yes, there is racism. No, it no longer rises to the level claimed by people with a microphone and/or a platform. Racism is often claimed not to eradicate it, but to benefit the person or group making the claim.
Sadly, there is racism on both sides. We see dramatically less racism perpetrated by blacks against whites in lesser part because it does not line up the media’s agenda, and in larger part because the racists on the “other side” do not yet have the power to make their mark and do the damage they’d like.
Who cares about Taking a Knee? Donald Trump seems to. I would if I thought it would help in any real way. Do you care? Tell us in the blog. And go act on what you care about in the world.
Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.