Mass fan walkouts at stadiums will prove more effective than boycotting NFL advertisers.
Organize mass exits and I guarantee you’ll beat the flag flouters at their own mass-media game.
This is not to say you shouldn’t continue to throw your slippers at the TV set and curse a blue streak when major league players thumb their noses at Old Glory. I do.
I’m just saying we can also do something really useful.
When you walk out after standing for “Oh say can you see … ,” the TV cameras will show you saying, louder and better, the opposite of what the flag back-handers are saying.
The TV cameras will follow you to the exits of those vast stadiums — instant TV impact nationally and internationally.
And an immediate, positive and lasting impact on our national psyche.
The fabulously wealthy players who take a knee not in thanks for the privilege of being American and living in America but in disgust at both are expressing ignorance of — or disrespect for — some amazing things about America.
They dis the only nation in history to engage in the massive slaughter of each other in a moral war to end the un-Christian practice of slavery. I and my family would have fought in that war on the anti-slavery side.
The kneelers give the finger to the only nation in history to go in less than a century from slavery to national anti-discrimination legislation, with criminal penalties for violations.
And any race-baiters out there, get this straight: I helped lead demonstrations locally and nationally in support of enacting that civil-rights legislation. I marched with Dr. King.
The kneelers, meanwhile, dis America’s legal codes that guarantee equal opportunity in employment, housing, public accommodation and service.
The knee-takers are flipping the bird to the only nation that, thanks to court interpretation of these civil rights laws, have made a peculiar form of affirmative action both legal and mandatory. This affirmative action gives the once-discriminated against the legal edge over Americans who aren’t black, regardless of objective qualifications. This is not good. Black, white, Asian and other Americans agree on that.
The kneelers, in what must be one of the most colossal displays of ignorance and irony on record, thumb their noses at the only nation that, thanks to its press and academics, has made too many black Americans think they have a cultural and racial right — even obligation — to resist lawful arrest and to kill law-enforcement officers for trying to carry out arrests.
This all too often accounts for the race riots, arson, vandalism, pillage, beatings and shootings when a black person challenges an arresting officer. This is very bad for the vast majority of all races in America.
The knee-takers may have only a dim understanding of what they’re doing and why.
We who disagree with what they’re doing should understand that it’s far better for even a few — though I suspect it’ll be many — to quietly and politely exit stadiums as the world watches than to boycott advertisers. Not buying certain insurance, breakfast cereal, car or truck brands takes a long time to have measurable impact on sales and eventually on advertising revenue. No one is ever certain that sales decline because of the boycott or shifting consumer tastes.
The visual impact of mass walkouts that show respect for America won’t be uncertain. It will show that, for the vast majority of us, our flag is still there.
• Ralph Z. Hallow, the chief political correspondent of commentary, served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University and resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar.
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