Point of View Columns

Colin Kaepernick and the Shame of Black America

Unless you have been hibernating during the Winter of Trump or hiding in a cave in the event of a Trump-induced nuclear holocaust, then you are probably aware that Colin Kaepernick is on his way to being the first player banned from the National Football League for his political views. The only thing worse than the racist right wing hegemony exhibited by the NFL owners is the indolent lap dog acceptance of this travesty by far too many black Americans.

The facts are that since he assumed his status as a free agent after the 2016-2017 season, not one of the 32 NFL teams has even offered him a tryout, even though most football experts would agree that he is a better quarterback than all 32 of the current backup quarterbacks in the league, and more than a few would argue that he is as good as, if not better, than more than a few of the starting quarterbacks in the league.

The facts are that numerous voices in the NFL Mothership have voiced “concerns” over Mr. Kaepernick’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games. Further, his expressions of concern, outrage and frustration at the macabre American conveyor belt that transports the corpses of black victims of police brutality across the national landscape have been considered inappropriate for the sport.

The facts are that the NFL has welcomed players who have killed people, raped women, beaten women, ingested all manner of recreational and performance enhancing drugs and paid them enormous sums of money. The facts are that some NFL players have expressed their support for Donald Trump despite his history of racism, misogyny, sexual assault and xenophobia without consequence.

The fact is that Colin Kaepernick is being denied re-entry into the NFL because of his political beliefs and his public support of the Black Lives Matter movement. And it is also a fact that even though 75% of the players in the NFL are black, very few players have raised a voice of concern, much less protest – Richard Sherman and Martellus Bennett are a few come to mind, but whatever happened to Odell Beckham, Jr. or Russell Wilson or Cam Newton or any number of NFL superstars who are virtually immune from sanction because of their star power?

And what happened to DeMaurice Smith and Eric Winston, the Executive Director and President of the NFL Players Association respectively? Have they been muted by the enormous sums of money that are earned by their membership or have they been neutered by the fear of the awesome power wielded by NFL owners?

And while we are at it, where is the grassroots support for Colin Kaepernick? The black fan base in the NFL is huge and has the capacity to be vocal, but except for a recent protest by Spike Lee, the sound of black silence has rolled across this country like a fuzzy cotton cloud.

The reason why the Kaepernick Affair is so important is that the NFL is such an important part of American culture. The fact is that the NFL has suckled at the breast of the American taxpayer (many of whom are black) to the tune of billions of dollars in order to build their football temple stadiums and the NFL has received many more billions of dollars of revenue from American consumers (many of whom are black).

It is sad to see so little resistance from Black America when the NFL owners are acting in such obvious concert to silence black protest. It is sad to see such silence from the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Urban League and Black Lives matter. For that matter, what has happened to the voices of Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Hart, LeBron James and all the other black men and women who manage to dominate the American media for their own profit? In this age of virulent Trumpism racism and degradation must be confronted all the time.

The NFL season begins in a little less than a month. One can only hope that Colin Kaepernick finds a roster position and one can only hope that all Black Americans – indeed all Americans – find the voice to resist this blatant injustice.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 17, 2011

Columnists and comedians have been gnashing their teeth as the resignation of Anthony Weiner has left too many of them bereft of material, as grey and recycled as it might have been. But one need look no further than the debut of “Snow White and the Six Dwarfs” in New Hampshire on Monday to know that there is always something more bizarre on the horizon. We conclude the review of this week by noting the Republicans’ bait and switch routine on the Libyan conflict as well taking a moment to contemplate the reenactment of “The Harder They Fall”, this time by LeBron James and company.

Snow White and the Six Dwarfs

Last Monday, the Republican presidential candidate debate kicked off the true start of the campaign season that won’t end until November 6, 2012. That’s a long time for anyone to repeatedly state that Barack Obama is the devil incarnate, but the seven candidates who appeared on stage appear to up to that task, if nothing else.

Mitt Romney, playing the part of Snow White, tried to manage to be above the fray of the six dwarfs who clamored for the attention of the electorate by reaching for the extreme and then attempting to throttle the life out of it. Newt Gingrich, who once said that President Obama was a greater danger to this country than Adolph Hitler was not to be outdone by Michelle Bachmann who termed the president a “destructive force”.

Herman Cain managed to outrage every American Muslim with his foolish attacks on the presumed disloyalty of American citizens of a different faith than his, while they all rallied around the notion of dismantling the federal government.

Seeming to be auditioning for the role of Dopey, the six dwarfs all agreed that the reforms in government over the past 40 years should be rolled back, particularly in areas such as labor, education, environmental reform and financial oversight. The fact that these reforms were implemented in order to correct or prevent serial tragedies in American society seemed to escape all of them.

The Republican presidential debate was an Obama Piñata Party. Without some serious rewrites it will get worse reviews than “Spiderman, Turn off the Dark”.

The Libya Bait and Switch

When the uprising against the Libyan government began a few months ago, Republicans were vehement; indeed they were apoplectic, in their calls for President Obama to “do something”. Senator John McCain went to Libya and proclaimed the insurgents as his “heroes”, although, as usual, McCain knew nothing about the subject on which he was proclaiming an opinion (it’s the same kind of non-thought process that resulted in Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential candidate).

And so President Obama ordered the launch of Cruise and Tomahawk missiles against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi. Several months later, even with the cloak of NATO collaboration, this country stands on the precipice of yet another military quagmire.

And now the same Republicans who demanded that President Obama “do something” are claiming that “something” is a violation of the War Powers Act. Investigations and demands for impeachment can’t be far away.

In truth Team Obama should have seen this bait and switch move coming. Hopefully they won’t go for that head fake again.

There’s No “I” in Team

It was a little more than a year ago that LeBron James enraged the city of Cleveland forever by announcing on ESPN that he was “taking his talents to Miami”. Many sports fans were turned off by his flight in search of a title, harking back to the days of Magic and Larry and Kareem who would rather donate flesh than “take their talents” to another team in hope of finally getting a championship ring.

Nevertheless, there is no denying that the Miami Heat put on a really good show in the playoffs. That is, until the pressure of the pressure of playing in the NBA Finals seemed to constrict LeBron’s windpipe and turn his knees into jelly.

And just like that, the “talents” and the will of LeBron James and his teammates went missing and the Dallas Mavericks became champions.

Pride goes before the fall.


Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – December 3, 2010

The choreography of each week, from Dancing with the Stars to WikiLeaks, seems to encourage the bizarre and the banal to engage in some kind of weird, eternal tango to which we are daily witnesses:

Inquiring Minds Need To Know

This past week the United States Senate passed an historic piece of legislation that will manage food safety in this country in an unprecedented fashion. The final vote was 73-25.

The results of the vote are welcome. Poisonous vegetables and deathly canned concoctions of one sort or another are not the problems that a parent, or any consumer, could relish. Yet there were 25 United States Senators that thought that this bill was not a good idea.

I wonder where they eat. More to the point I wonder in what pristine, wonderland environment their families eat.

The rightwing of the right wing is already braying about “government control food supply being the first step towards Stalinism. While no one can be deaf to these loony tunes, one would hope that U.S. Senators could discern the difference between sense and nonsense.

Earth Calling…..Please come in…..

President Obama announced a two year pay freeze for all federal workers except those in the military. In this time of global recession and continued dysfunction in the American economy, the cost-saving logic behind the President’s decision seems pretty obvious.

Incredibly, a very vocal group of federal employees immediately went on Catastrophe Alert, condemning President Obama for his cruel and misguided decision. Some federal employees were quoted as saying that they would never vote for President Obama again after this betrayal.

I wonder on what planet these aggrieved federal workers reside. Today it was announced that 15 million Americans are out of work and the unemployment rate for this country is 9.8%. These numbers do not begin to reveal the number of men and women who have simply stopped looking for work because there is no work.

Everyone would like to have regular pay increases. But in these austere and challenging days and times I would think that the assurance of a regular job, with enviable benefits, trumps a regular pay increase…….every day of the week.

Perhaps on some other planet the logic of these aggrieved federal workers makes sense. But it certainly doesn’t make sense on this planet and certainly not now.

Danse Macabre

Several news reports about the upcoming Secession Sesquicentennial have made me wonder if and when the sons and daughters of the Confederacy are ever going to cloak their disturbing beliefs and behavior with at least a fig leaf of decency. Starting in 2011 there will be a series of “celebrations” marking the founding of the Confederate States of America and the beginning of the Civil War.

Given the fact that the Civil War was the bloodiest and most brutal conflict ever fought in the United States, one would think that think that this is not the occasion for “Secession Balls” like the one that will be held in Charleston, South Carolina in April 2011.

Given the fact that the Confederacy was fought to protect the odious, awful and noxious institution of slavery offends not only black Americans, but it should offend all Americans of good will and humanity.

These secession celebrators have glommed onto the Tea Party rhetoric and with an interesting flourish of revisionist history they are claiming that the Civil War was fought to fend off big government and to protect the rights of the individual. If I was a supporter of the Tea Party movement I would be appalled that my movement’s philosophy had been hijacked.

The fact is that if not for the issue of slavery there would have been no Civil War. The Confederate States of America were all slaveholding states. The Confederate Army refused to recognized black Union soldiers as legitimate and executed them or enslaved them when they were captured. There is nothing good or noble or honorable about a regime that fought to enslave men, women and children.

I can only hope that during these sesquicentennial celebrations that we can simply turn our backs on these fact bending hypocrites.

C’mon LeBron….cont’d

Yesterday LeBron James returned to Cleveland as a member of the Miami Heat basketball team. Predictably everyone in the house booed and jeered. Predictably the Miami Heat won.

Interestingly enough, Mr. James tried to replicate his trademark tossing of magic into the air, pouring some talcum powder into his hands and then throwing it in the air.

It must have been an impromptu bit, because he ended up using a small container of baby powder and when he threw it, the mini-handful of powder hardly went anywhere.

It all seemed very small and inconsequential……and that speaks volumes about the entire episode.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 8, 2010

The cool weather presages the changing of the leaves and the hint of the first stirrings of what will soon be winter. As the days and weeks rocket past our observation point, it is time again to consider some of the events of the past week:

C’mon LeBron – Part II
Recently, in continuing his “Ain’t I Great?” tour of the planet, LeBron James was quoted as saying that he thought that race (specifically his being an African American) was a factor in the outpouring of antipathy that was directed at him when he announced in the third person his departure from long suffering Cleveland to the sunny and seductive climes of Miami.

There is no doubt that loud and vociferous cries of betrayal and assorted calumny rained down upon the head of the self-proclaimed “Chosen One”. But I don’t believe that I heard a single commentator, fan or sports nut deny James’ right to work wherever he wants. I do know a lot of people who thought that his departure seemed disloyal to the fans in Cleveland who lived and died with his every crossover dribble – and his orchestrated departure courtesy of ESPN seemed pretty cheesy – to be kind.

And I do I think that King James is treading on very thin ice when he plays the race card on this one. He should ask the O’Malley family that moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles how welcome they are in Flatbush more than fifty years after the move. He might ask Art Modell, who moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore about twenty years ago. It wouldn’t be wise for anyone named Modell to be seen walking along the shores of Lake Erie. He might also want to ask the Irsay family, whose patriarch moved the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis almost thirty years ago when was the last time they had crab cakes in Maryland.

The point is, sports fans are notoriously nuts. The word “fan” comes from the word “fanatic”. All of the team owners mentioned are white. The elaborately tattooed and spectacularly unringed King James hasn’t received a tenth of the opprobrium that has been visited upon the O’Malleys and the Modells and the Irsays.

It should also be pointed out that Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley have also been critical of James, publicly questioning his competitive fire and his championship cojones. The last time I checked, Magic, Michael and Sir Charles were all certified African Americans, so it is difficult to see how their criticisms would be racially based.

There are too many instances of racism and racist behavior in this country for LeBron James to be crying wolf because his feelings are hurt. He made his decision. He is making his multimillions. Good for him.

But too many men and women and children still suffer the very real slings and arrows of truly racist behavior for an enormously gifted athlete, who would make Croesus look impoverished, to claim that he is suffering the lash of racism because some sports fans do not adore him anymore.

C’mon LeBron!

Dream A Little Dream With Me….
There are news reports and pundit ponderings to the effect that President Obama should consider having Secretary of State Hilary Clinton be his Vice Presidential running mate in 2012, switching Vice President Joe Biden to the office of Secretary of State.

My first thought when I read this was, when I grow up I want a job that allows me to get paid to just think up stuff. By all accounts Secretary Clinton has done an outstanding job at the State Department as the Obama Administration has sought to deal with the rubble and detritus of the damaged international reputation of this country, one more going away gift from President George W. Bush.

Further, it appears that President Obama and Vice President Biden enjoy an excellent working relationship and several recent books indicate that Biden is a real partner (albeit junior) who is involved in all serious policy discussions. So why change these horses in the middle of the stream?

It seems that some journalists have deadlines and sometimes there isn’t enough subject matter for the moment….and that’s when it’s time to make up stuff.

And that’s the job I want when I grow up.

Keeping Hope Alive
Continuing on the theme of the value and potential validity of a Clinton-Biden role reversal, other great minds have determined that the sights must be set higher in planning the Hilary Clinton Restoration. The prevailing thought among some hardcore Clintonistas is that Secretary Clinton will be positioned to run for President in 2016 whether or not she switches roles with Vice President Biden.

The argument progresses with the observation that Hilary Clinton will be 69 in 2016, younger than when Ronald Reagan was first elected President (and we all know how well that turned out). Further, so the theory goes, Secretary Clinton will be possessed of such national and international stature by 2016 that her election as President would be foreordained – almost a coronation.

I would suggest that there may be a few tiny flaws with this paroxysm of Clintonmania. First, on numerous occasions Hilary Clinton has categorically denied any interest in running for President again. Even accounting for the fact that she couldn’t very well say anything else at this time, one can imagine that she has already considered some other countervailing forces.

As time progresses between now and a putative campaign in 2016, Hilary Clinton will not be the only one getting older. Her original base of support is getting older and I cannot imagine that she wants to be known as The Last Gasp of the Baby Boom. There are other younger potential candidates who probably are not interested in waiting another 12-16 years before running for President and will portray Hilary Clinton as part of the Old Guard, an irony that would be impossible to ignore or counter.

Finally, this discussion about Hilary Clinton and 2016 has a sinister tone to it. It is almost as if some cohorts in the progressive wing are willing to write off 2012 and President Barack Obama, even before the 2010 midterm elections. If too many eyes are on the 2016 prize, it may come to pass that the opportunity to continue progress in 2012 will simply evanesce and the 2016 “prize” will be fool’s gold.

Have a great weekend!