The silver lining in the NFL protests

Just in time for the Super Bowl, Shelby Steele has an interesting take on the "Take a Knee" protest by African-American NFL players, "Black Protest Has Lost Its Power

Steele writes that protests have been an effective tactic for black Americans from the Montgomery bus rides to Selma through the massive 1963 March on Washington. Two aspects of such protests were that they 1) involved risk and great sacrifice and 2) were aimed at real injustices. They were also highly effective in advancing freedom, a critical point we'll come back to.

None of this holds true for the Take a Kneers. There was no risk involved to these millionaire sportsmen. Some may have had their feelings and sense of entitlement bruised by the negative reaction from fans, but the money kept rolling in. So did the adulation in the mainstream media. Notably, Colin Kaepernick, the original instigator of the protest, was GQ magazine's 'Citizen of the Year;' Sports Illustrated gave him its 2017 Muhammad Ali Legacy award while the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) toasted him at their banquet. Surprisingly, Kaepernick wasn't Time magazine's Man of the Year, although I'm sure he was under consideration. 

As for addressing any injustice, Steele observes, "What they missed is a simple truth that is both obvious and unutterable: The oppression of black people is over with. This is politically incorrect news, but it is true nonetheless. We blacks are, today, a free people. It is as if freedom sneaked up and caught us by surprise."

What is affecting blacks today is the 'shock of freedom.' This shock brought with it what Steele calls a 'cruelty.' What he means is that blacks now have to look out for themselves without the excuse of oppression. He writes, "Four centuries of dehumanization had left us [blacks] undeveloped in many ways, and within the world's most highly developed society. When freedom expanded, we became more accountable for that underdevelopment."

The mandate that freedom leads to accountability is what causes the black community to believe the lie that white racism hovers over it like an all-encompassing fog and that freedom for blacks, if it exists at all, then it is at least severely curtailed. As Steele puts it:

That's why in the face of freedom's unsparing judgmentalism, we reflexively claim that freedom is a lie. We conjure elaborate narratives to give white racism new life in the present: systematic and 'structural' racism, racist 'microaggressions,' 'white privilege,' and so on. All these narratives insist that blacks are still victims of racism, and that freedom's accountability is an injustice.

The NFL protests are not about injustice. They are 'genuflections to today's victim-focused black identity.' This pathology is constantly inflamed by the liberal media and used by the Democratic Party as a way to gain political power. This problem, of course, goes further than just the Take A Knee protesters. Steele sees the antics of Black Lives Matter as people literally aspiring for black victimization, longing for it, as a way of confirming their self-identity and excusing their shortcomings. 

Through it all, Steele sees good coming from the Take a Knee protest... but not in the way the protesters ever imagined:

But the NFL protests may be a harbinger of change. They elicited considerable resentment. There have been counterprotests, TV viewership has gone down, ticket sales have dropped. What is remarkable about this response is that it may foretell a new fearlessness in white America -- a new willingness in whites (and blacks outside the victim-focused identity) -- to say to blacks what they really think and feel and to judge blacks fairly by standards that are universal.

Steele says: "We blacks have lived in a bubble since the 1960s because whites have been deferential for fear of being seen as racist. The NFL protests reveal the fundamental obsolescence -- both for blacks and whites -- of a victim-focused approach to racial inequity." 

If Steele is correct that through the Take a Knee protests whites have, as he says, finally found the courage to judge African-Americans fairly by universal standards, then Colin Kaepernick does deserve an award. 

Just in time for the Super Bowl, Shelby Steele has an interesting take on the "Take a Knee" protest by African-American NFL players, "Black Protest Has Lost Its Power

Steele writes that protests have been an effective tactic for black Americans from the Montgomery bus rides to Selma through the massive 1963 March on Washington. Two aspects of such protests were that they 1) involved risk and great sacrifice and 2) were aimed at real injustices. They were also highly effective in advancing freedom, a critical point we'll come back to.

None of this holds true for the Take a Kneers. There was no risk involved to these millionaire sportsmen. Some may have had their feelings and sense of entitlement bruised by the negative reaction from fans, but the money kept rolling in. So did the adulation in the mainstream media. Notably, Colin Kaepernick, the original instigator of the protest, was GQ magazine's 'Citizen of the Year;' Sports Illustrated gave him its 2017 Muhammad Ali Legacy award while the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) toasted him at their banquet. Surprisingly, Kaepernick wasn't Time magazine's Man of the Year, although I'm sure he was under consideration. 

As for addressing any injustice, Steele observes, "What they missed is a simple truth that is both obvious and unutterable: The oppression of black people is over with. This is politically incorrect news, but it is true nonetheless. We blacks are, today, a free people. It is as if freedom sneaked up and caught us by surprise."

What is affecting blacks today is the 'shock of freedom.' This shock brought with it what Steele calls a 'cruelty.' What he means is that blacks now have to look out for themselves without the excuse of oppression. He writes, "Four centuries of dehumanization had left us [blacks] undeveloped in many ways, and within the world's most highly developed society. When freedom expanded, we became more accountable for that underdevelopment."

The mandate that freedom leads to accountability is what causes the black community to believe the lie that white racism hovers over it like an all-encompassing fog and that freedom for blacks, if it exists at all, then it is at least severely curtailed. As Steele puts it:

That's why in the face of freedom's unsparing judgmentalism, we reflexively claim that freedom is a lie. We conjure elaborate narratives to give white racism new life in the present: systematic and 'structural' racism, racist 'microaggressions,' 'white privilege,' and so on. All these narratives insist that blacks are still victims of racism, and that freedom's accountability is an injustice.

The NFL protests are not about injustice. They are 'genuflections to today's victim-focused black identity.' This pathology is constantly inflamed by the liberal media and used by the Democratic Party as a way to gain political power. This problem, of course, goes further than just the Take A Knee protesters. Steele sees the antics of Black Lives Matter as people literally aspiring for black victimization, longing for it, as a way of confirming their self-identity and excusing their shortcomings. 

Through it all, Steele sees good coming from the Take a Knee protest... but not in the way the protesters ever imagined:

But the NFL protests may be a harbinger of change. They elicited considerable resentment. There have been counterprotests, TV viewership has gone down, ticket sales have dropped. What is remarkable about this response is that it may foretell a new fearlessness in white America -- a new willingness in whites (and blacks outside the victim-focused identity) -- to say to blacks what they really think and feel and to judge blacks fairly by standards that are universal.

Steele says: "We blacks have lived in a bubble since the 1960s because whites have been deferential for fear of being seen as racist. The NFL protests reveal the fundamental obsolescence -- both for blacks and whites -- of a victim-focused approach to racial inequity." 

If Steele is correct that through the Take a Knee protests whites have, as he says, finally found the courage to judge African-Americans fairly by universal standards, then Colin Kaepernick does deserve an award.