I don’t want this feature to turn into me parroting people who agree with me, but most of the pushback I receive in the comments is either incomprehensible (I literally can’t understand the points they’re trying to make) or never engages substantively. There’s a consistent hand-waving of the facts to talk about feelings and emotions as well as the implication that those of us who discuss racism and its consequences frankly are being “mean.” And for some, every discussion of White supremacy pivots to the “black on black crime” talking point. Violent crime is overwhelmingly intracial, but facts don’t matter to these people, because they aren’t acting in good faith.
I find the defense of Rachel Dolezal particularly bizarre. The woman is a pathological liar who just got charged with welfare fraud. She’s hurt so many people, especially her son. The willingness of these people to ignore her consistent, unrelenting deceit throws up huge red flags. I don’t trust anyone who finds that kind of corrosive dishonesty harmless, and I think it’s a bad idea to tag them into these discussions and invite them into the community I’m trying to build.
I think a lot about what Toni Morrison said about racism:
“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”
Engaging with the kinds of arguments Morrison discusses is a waste of all of our time. When we do so, we’re wrestling with other people’s deep-seated character flaws, and they aren’t going to be corrected by measured debate. In the age of Google, these people are choosing quite deliberately to remain ignorant. We can’t reason them out of things they didn’t reason themselves into.
So, I’m not responding to “what about black on black crime?” or similar lazy arguments. They’ve been thoroughly debunked and are being deployed by people who don’t want to do the work required to confront their racism.
I’ve written a lot about Colin Kaepernick’s case, and was glad for this comment from Christopher, which allowed me to provide some more context.
“I’m not American so I’m probably missing a few points, but …
CK, as I see it, has made himself unhirable. Any team that hires him will face two problems; strongly negative publicity right from the start and the difficulty of keeping him focused on the game, instead of making political protests. It cannot be denied that this whole affair has cost the NFL lots of money (and, as you say, it could hardly claim the moral high ground at any point before the protests anyway). There are strong reasons not to hire him in any case, reasons that won’t change from team to team. That isn’t collusion, any more than you and I both saying that water is wet is collusion. It’s common sense.
He might be able to make a case that there was collusion, but absent clear proof i don’t know if it will be creditable.”
The most important thing that keeps getting shoved aside in the Kaepernick coverage, and I can’t understand why, is that this is a labor dispute. The players’ rights have been collectively bargained. The collective bargaining agreement is the instrument Kaepernick is using to bring his claim. It doesn’t matter whether or not the rest of us think all this makes sense — Colin Kaepernick is exercising rights that were negotiated by his union.
As for Kaepernick being uniformly unhireable — there are certain markets (Seattle, Oakland, etc.) where he’d be more than welcome by the overwhelming majority of the fans. In Oakland, he’d be a folk hero. So, that argument is a no-go too.
Don’t let anyone tell you Kaepernick isn’t qualified. The teams consider him a starting calibre quarterback (this is from inside the organizations themselves, not speculation). He possesses an incredibly rare skill.
As for the NFL losing money, the broadcast rights have already been negotiated, and that’s where all the real money is. Poor ticket sales look bad, but they’re not that big a part of the teams’ revenue. And ticket sales weren’t really affected that much. The die-hards will always go, and the corporate suites will nearly always be booked. The Carolina Panthers just got sold for a grip. Cornerstone legacy franchises have much higher valuations. The notion that NFL teams are taking a significant financial hit on this just isn’t true.
What also isn’t being said is that NFL viewership has been trending downward for some time. Not all of the drop is due to the Kaepernick situation (even though it probably pushed some people who were on the fence off of it). The league has consistently shown itself to be a bad actor, and plenty of more casual fans already had one foot out the door. For myriad reasons (CTE, covering up for woman-beating players, absolutely disgusting institutional misogyny, pricing out the average fan in some markets, blacking out games in some markets without notice, a team being named an outright racial slur), the NFL hasn’t been able to pick up new fans. Its aging fan base is its real problem. That has nothing to do with Colin Kaepernick.
In addition, Kaepernick merchandise was among the top sellers when he wasn’t on a team anymore. His name recognition is off the charts. Played right, he’d bring in international fans. The argument that he’s bad for business is demonstrably false and incredibly short-sighted on the part of teams that are refusing to sign him.
The Smithsonian has already begun collecting some of his personal memorabilia. We all know where this is going. I honestly don’t understand why so many people are adamant about not getting it. An NFL team had the chance to be what the Brooklyn Dodgers were to Jackie Robinson. They’ve squandered an immense opportunity to write themselves into American history in a positive light.
Colin Kaepernick makes some people uncomfortable. To others he’s a hero. This is what all this really boils down to: whose point of view matters and is worthy of consideration. What about the fans who stopped watching the NFL because they don’t like the way Kaepernick is being treated? Their money is just as green. Why is the narrative around this case brushing aside the upside of engaging with this group?
Also, pointing out that the teams having the same reasons not to hire Kaepernick isn’t a convincing argument against the likelihood of them having colluded. Shared motives actually makes it more likely ownership and management came together and, as a group, decided to keep Colin out. Collusion is about acting in common interest. Arguing that common interest is what would make them not act in concert doesn’t follow. Might they all have come to their decisions independently? Perhaps. But there’ve been an awful lot of meetings and poll-taking and consultations for everyone to have reached the exact same conclusion and made the exact same fumbling arguments.
There are signs (leaked information, the players’ union suddenly growing a spine, and the shifting positions of some owners) that make me believe Kaepernick’s lawyers found something pretty damning. People are positioning themselves to either benefit from the finding of collusion or avoid the consequences.
Not to razz Christopher specifically, but I feel this needs to be said:
Working people need to get out of their systems whatever it is that makes them reflexively defend multi-billionaire predatory capitalists. When you do this, you are caping up to play Johnny Superhero to defend people who would shove your whole family under a speeding train to pick up an extra nickel. They can’t see you and wouldn’t care to reward you for your loyalty even if they could.
The belief that access to capital is somehow linked to intelligence is the source of all this “the NFL is too smart to have colluded against Kaepernick and left any evidence behind” nonsense. A team is named after a racial slur. Another team sent written instructions to its cheerleaders about how they should wash their vaginas. These people are not clever. And they’re not professional.
Each NFL franchise is a billion dollar concern. They have armies of thousand-dollar-an-hour lawyers to fight for them. They don’t need our help. Colin Kaepernick is just one man. He’s the one who needs our voices to speak up for him.
The devil doesn’t need any more advocates.
I’m trying to get more exposure for my work by submitting to publications on Medium. The Writing Cooperative published my story, Writing in an Age of Propaganda! You can check it out here:
Writing in an Age of Propaganda
I recently wrote a piece about the NFL’s controversial new rules, which essentially ban its players from engaging in…
I hope you enjoy what’s coming next week!
Medium treats each comment as a separate story, which gets added to a writer’s list of articles. Comments also get queued up as a “Next story” and in other recommendations. This suppresses discoverability of the stories I spend time researching and thinking about. As a result, I made the decision that I wouldn’t respond directly to comments going forward. But I do want to engage with my readers and build a community. As a result, I created this weekly feature, where I respond to some of the comments I’ve received.