I was going to write something incisive and insightfully meaningful about the national anthem protests in professional sports. Not that I care about sports, mind, but I figure it’s a popular topic, and my thoughts might go viral for once.
That was yesterday. Since then, one of my restaurant reviews (which I do for fun) got more hits in two hours than any of my political articles since Refugees and any of my informative articles since Autism And Vaccines. Which I guess is a good thing, but I’m now stuck wondering whether I’d do better tracking down great barbecue and killer corned beef hash and just not bother trying to be the voice of reason on the Internet.
Because let’s face it: People love bacon, but on the whole they just aren’t that interested in the voice of reason.
CNN does a whopping business selling disaster and scandal 24-7 to the American public, and they’re not alone. There’s a dozen all-news channels that do the same, and commentators and talking heads earn millions telling us how to think and when to be outraged — and we eat that sort of thing right up. They’re so good at selling condemnation that when something big actually happens, it just fades into the background now, completely failing to make any real impression on the average American. We’re so inured to 24-hour disastergasm television, I honestly believe that if the 9-11 attacks happened tomorrow, they’d be blamed on the Trump-Russia connection and would get buried in the news cycle before a couple more days passed.
Look, it was news a year ago when Colin Kaepernick, the new wonder kid of pro football, knelt instead of stood for the national anthem. When he explained later, it was quiet, polite, reasonable: There’s a Black Lives Matter movement, and he wanted to use his celebrity status to draw attention to the cause behind it. He figured a peaceful protest might underline what was being lost in riots across the country. (And no, it’s really not because the anthem endorses slavery. Urban legend.)
Today, Kaepernick is out of a job, possibly because of injuries but probably because of his protest. And there’s a lot of other athletes out there who are kneeling because he can’t. Which is fair enough; they know the stakes, and they can protest or not, just as they choose. President Trump disapproves, and I guess that makes it newsworthy. Me, I’d pick a detailed cause instead of a general and nebulous one and I’d protest in a way that wouldn’t alienate half my audience… but then, I’m the voice of reason, and as mentioned above, nobody listens to reason.
In football, they do this thing sometimes when the ball’s coming but no matter how hard they try they know they’ll never make any progress with it. They signal for a “fair catch” and make contact with the field in order to halt play. They can do the same thing when the clock’s nearly out and they don’t care to risk the chance of a turnover.
Well, strikes me I could do the same thing here. I mean, yeah, I could take a courageous stand against unreason and idiocy, condemning those on both sides who seem to have forgotten how to think and explaining things in a way anyone could understand. That’s what I usually strive for, but — heck, I get more hits from a breakfast place.
Sometimes, it’s better to just field the question, acknowledge it, but refuse to do the whole response thing. I’d hate to lose ground, after all, and making any sort of progress on such a nebulous issue seems unlikely.
So I’m just going to take a knee.
(Sportsball metaphor. Duke would be proud of me.)