The 'intersectionality' risk for the NFL protests
There is a bandwagon forming. If I were a billionaire team owner or team player, I would not want to be on board. They are at risk of becoming identified with the far left, which has embraced the concept of "intersectionality." The simple gesture of "taking a knee" is available to anyone who is unhappy with the last election and who is inclined toward public displays of anger.
As a result, their cause, which was never very well defined to begin with, is being co-opted by groups with fringe agendas. That does not improve its legitimacy or salability to the ticket- and merchandise-buyers and TV-watchers. The image, and ultimately the value of the brand franchise of the NFL, which enriches both owners and players, is at risk.
William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection has a fascinating and detailed report on the genesis of a kneeling demonstration yesterday at Cornell that ended up hijacked with "Free Palestine!" chants. It is well worth a read and comes with photos and his firsthand account.
The description of the event reads in part:
Kaepernick's anthem protest is important because it reminds us that racism is not only a matter of individual acts of harassment and aggression on the part of a few bad actors, but something that is enabled and perpetuated by institutional practices that systematize inequality and exclusion. Let us join together to show solidarity with the members of our community who have been affected by racism and hate, to hear their demands, and to work together to create a more equitable and inclusive Cornell. ...
The Cornell administration tried to put its thumb on the scale to increase faculty turnout. Both the Provost's Office and the Dean of the Faculty sent mass emails to the faculty urging attendance.
Although this was a faculty protest that seems to have been driven from above, it was opened to student participation, as Jacobson wryly notes:
That made for a more impressive photo opportunity, but also made it hard to tell how many faculty actually turned out.
This is one example of his photography:
The players' gesture is now associated with the panoply of left-wing causes:
There were several speakers at the Take A Knee event, and the subjects addressed were what you would expect at such an event. Issues of white supremacy, white privilege, institutional racism, etc.
Until Cornell Professor Russell Rickford spoke.
Rickford is an anti-capitalist, anti-Israel activist and supporter of the BDS movement. He is, perhaps, the most active such member of the faculty. We mentioned Rickford in a July 2016 post about a Black Lives Matter protest off-campus in downtown Ithaca, #BlackLivesMatter rally segregates speakers by race.
At the Take A Knee event, Rickford mentioned the colonization of Palestine, though I didn't get it on video so I can't quote him precisely. There was mild applause.
But to make the point, Rickford ended his speech by leading the crowd in a "Free Palestine" chant, just before people kneeled down.
By politicizing the National Anthem display, the NFL may have opened Pandora's Box. Maybe they will be able to de-escalate, and players will revert to their former compliance, accompanied by language of "having made their point." But the kneeling gesture may or may not take off as a trademark gesture of the defiant left. As Ann Althouse and others have noted, on the surface, kneeling is a classic gesture of obedience – the very opposite of defiance.