Thursday, September 22, 2016

Things I don't understand

This just in: The Blob does not have all the answers, contrary to conventional wisdom.

There are things going on out there these days I simply do not get, more things than ever, and if this is perhaps a function of advancing age it is also a function of the irrational increasingly overwhelming the rational.

I do not get how unarmed people of color keep turning up dead in what seem to be routine traffic stops, do not get why police officers are drawing their sidearms in situations I don't remember them doing five, 10, 15 years ago.

I do not get how a guy in a helicopter can assume a large black man showing his empty hands is a bad dude, other than the obvious.

I do not get how that individual gets shot to death simply because he's acting a little twitchy, while halfway across the country, on the East Coast, a terror suspect already known to be violent somehow gets taken alive.

Something is seriously out of whack here, and it's becoming harder and harder to explain away. Although a certain segment of America continues to try.

It's a segment of America that doesn't seem at all bothered by guys with their hands in the air getting shot to death, but a football player choosing to kneel during the  National Anthem (an act of reverence in all other contexts) bothers it greatly.

Colin Kaepernick is now the most hated player in the NFL, according to recent polls, because he was the seminal kneeler. That he is doing so to call attention to all of the above -- and that peaceful and largely respectful protest of this sort has almost always been vindicated by history -- doesn't seem to matter. That certain segment of America seems blind to everything but the mechanics of the protest.

I do not get that. What I do get is that it's nothing new. Peaceful protest against social and racial injustice has evoked the same disdain from the same segment of America all throughout history, from John Carlos and Tommie Smith raising gloved fists in Mexico City to Martin Luther King marching in Selma.

Here's what else I know: That the tide is running strongly against that certain segment of America, because the desire to call attention to what has become so thunderously obvious is spreading.

More than just Kaepernick are in on this now. U.S. women's soccer team star Megan Rapinoe, defying threats of official retaliation, is kneeling. An entire high school football team in Seattle knelt a week or so ago. And last night, the entire Indiana Fever WNBA team knelt and linked arms during the National Anthem.

This is not going to go away, people. Not until there are some answers that make sense.

And if there was a time when professional athletes were largely indifferent to seeking those answers, that time is past. As Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman so clearly spelled out yesterday during his media availability.

"I’m not going to answer any questions today, and it’s no offense to you guys," Sherman said. "I think the state of things in the world today is very interesting. I think you have players that are trying to take a stand and trying to be aware of social issue and try to make a stand and increase people’s awareness and put a spotlight on it, and they’re being ignored. Whether they’re taking a knee or whether they’re locking arms, they’re trying to bring people together and unite them for a cause ...  The reason these guys are kneeling, the reason we’re locking arms is to bring people together to make people aware that this is not right. It’s not right for people to get killed in the street.

"I do a lot of community service. I go out there and try to help kids and try to encourage them to be better and to aspire to more. And when you tell a kid, 'When you’re dealing with police, just put your hands up and comply with everything,' and there’s still a chance of them getting shot and no repercussions for anyone, that’s an unfortunate time to be living. It’s an unfortunate place to be in."


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