Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Rams 'Hands Up' Protest Doesn't Bother Me..But Congress's Is Obscene


There has been a great deal of anger expressed over an incident that happened at a St.Louis Rams football game. Jared Cook, Kenny Britt, Chris Givens, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, all of whom are black and play for the Rams decided to express a blatant political view and use the 'Hands Up,Don't Shoot' gesture before their last game with Oakland to express their solidarity with the Ferguson protesters/rioters.

Leaving aside for a moment how bogus the gesture itself is (there is, after all,plenty of evidence that Michael Brown was not standing still with his hands up when policemen Darren Wilson shot him)it's obvious that this was a political statement and an expression of being down with racialist solidarity. It wasn't some kind of of plea for justice,peace and amity, although it's quite possible the five NFL players didn't see that. They simply did it anyway.

When the calls came for the players to be disciplined, both the St. Louis Rams and the NFL refused,citing the players 'First Amendment rights.'

Here's what Rams coach Jeff Fisher saidto rationalize this, saying it was the player's "choice to exercise their free speech."

"It's my personal opinion, I firmly believe, that it's important that I keep sports and politics separate," Fisher said. "I'm a head coach. I'm not a politician, an activist or an expert on societal issues, so I'm going to answer questions about the game."

Except of course, by allowing this,the team and the NFL are clearly taking a political stand as well.

Imagine five white players had done the same thing, holding up signs saying 'We support Officer Wilson.' Is anyone naive enough to believe that they wouldn't have been fined and disciplined for exercising their First Amendment Rights? And speaking of which, does anyone remember what the NFL did to Rush Limbaugh when he wanted to use money he earned honestly to buy into an NFL franchise as part of a group of investors? The NFL blackballed him and he was forced to leave the investor group..for exercising his First Amendment rights.

So this nonsense about 'First Amendment Rights' obviously just goes one way.

The way the team and the NFL saw it these five players using the 'Hands Up' gesture was a form of insurance that a significant number of their highly paid hired hands were mollified. And that a significant number people who happen to be of a certain racial background got the message that the NFL was 'down for the struggle', thus insuring that their expensive facilities were spared the sort of damage visited on Ferguson's small business owners.

If a few cops in St. Louis got angry about it, if some fans felt uncomfortable over the display of solidarity for the lawlessness went down in Ferguson, well, who cares? They're not going to riot or cause us grief. So that's the decision they made.

Let's move on to another sort of arena, the U.S. House of Representative. There, several members of congress decided to make the “Hands up, don’t shoot,” gesture on the floor of the House.


Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) made a ranting speech, saying “In community, after community, after community, fed up with police violence in Ferguson, in Brooklyn, in Cleveland, in Oakland, in cities and counties and rural communities all across America.”

Jeffries added that people are fed up with injustice, a broken criminal justice system and “continuing to see young, unarmed African-American men killed as a result of a gunshot fired by a law enforcement officer.”

"Now this is a problem that Congress can’t run away from and the [Congressional Black Caucus] stands here today to make sure that Congress runs toward the problem,” Jeffries said. “That we come up with constructive solutions to breaking this cycle, this epidemic, this scourge of police violence all across America.”

He was joined by Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Al Green (D-Texas), all of whom had their own fuel for the fire as they made the “Hands up, don’t shoot,” gesture.

That little display is very, very different. It makes me catch-a-fire.Can you see why?

The Rams and the NFL are private businesses. And as such, they are allowed to choose what they support as business decisions, however cynical, amoral and wrong headed.

For those of you whom find that kind of racism(there really is no other word for it) and disrespect for the rule of law abhorrent, you too can make choices. Organize. Don't attend the games and don't watch them on TV. Don't buy their paraphernalia and above all, make sure the team and the NFL know why. A few weeks worth of sharply lowered attendance, TV ratings and sales sends a message that can sometimes encourage businesses to make different choices.

Congress, however is a very different animal.

The salaries of the members of congress who made these racially charged, outlandish statements are paid for by the taxpayers. So are their offices, their staffs, even the very building they meet in to do the people's business that they just soiled.And none of us have a choice about paying for it.

The 'scourge of police violence' Rep. Jeffries? Really? You stand there, in the halls of congress and tell me that a young black man is more likely to be murdered by police than by the sort of thug Michael Brown was well on his way to becoming? You really say that in spite of all the physical evidence showing the Michael Brown was the aggressor and assaulted a police officer, he's still some kind of victim? And that by making that stupid gesture and uttering those inflammatory words, you're in solidarity with the looting and rioting that went on in Ferguson and elsewhere?

Remember this, Congressman Jeffries?

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Do you really think the sort of language you and your friends just made jibes remotely with your oath of office?

It won't happen, but every one of these four members on Congress ought to be censured for making political points by stirring the pot in this fashion. They are encouraging violence and actually sanctioning it.

And yes, that is obscene on its face.

No comments: