Practical Politics

The politics of semantic arrogance

David L. Horne, PH.D. | 10/12/2017, 11:06 a.m.

‘Opinions are opinions, and facts are just that. Anybody and everybody are entitled to their own opinions, but nobody is entitled to make up their own facts.’ This has been a lasting truism for quite a while.

Yet, consistent with their use of ignorance of all but their own points of view, the POTUS and the VPOTUS continue to operate as if what is real is only what they see and believe. In spite of convincing evidence to the contrary, both of these men keep saying that NFL players who take a knee during the playing of the national anthem and the display of the USA flag are disrespecting this country, all U.S. service members, and all police personnel.

Firstly, many members of the NFL who take a knee have military backgrounds—either their family members are now, or have been, honorable members of some branch of the U.S. service, or the NFL players themselves are veterans. The same statement is relevant for police personnel. Secondly, Colin Kaepernick, the player who started this protest over a year ago, along with several other prominent players who’ve taken a knee, have had several conversations with policemen and military members to explain that the protesters intend no disrespect to them or to the flag. The protests are about having a conversation about this country’s unfinished transformation into a society of mutual respect and tolerance, and the first amendment—one of the rights our military stands for and fights for-provides a vehicle to bring attention to that issue.

Thirdly, both the POTUS and VPOTUS have remained tone-deaf and oblivious to exactly what is going on with this issue, and have simply tried to define it the way the two of them want to see it rather than to accept it for what it is. Possibly, the POTUS being a former failed USFL owner who could not gain entry into the more prestigious club of NFL owners, and is known for holding a grudge, there is something to consider here as a negative motivation. That situation will not likely change once Mr. Trump is no longer POTUS. But much more important here is that in the game of NFL football, taking a knee is not a sign of disrespect, period.

One takes a knee at the beginning of the game and the beginning of the second half, if the kickoff is too deep. That does not signal disrespect for the other team; it signals ‘we have no advantage, we’ll take the ball on the 25.’ The quarterback of a winning team who still has the ball with but a few seconds left in the game, usually takes a knee. Again, that does not disrespect the opposing team. It indicates there is no need to try and score again; the game is essentially over. (It is more often taken as disrespectful, when the quarterback does not take a knee, and instead tries to run-up the score). Lastly, players on the sidelines waiting to get sent into the game regularly take a knee waiting for the word to go in. Again, there is no disrespect anywhere in that equation.