Brees firestorm puzzling

The death of George Floyd has caused outrage across the United States. I don’t have polling data, but I feel safe in stating that 99.9 percent of Americans believe that the treatment Floyd received at the hands police officer Derek Chauvin was abominable and should be punished with a prison sentence.

Police brutality is abominable. Racism is abominable. I believe a very large majority of Americans believe that black lives matter. A large majority also believe all lives matter, which is puzzling since longtime Sacramento Kings TV broadcaster Grant Napear was fired for saying just that.

There are a lot of things that puzzle me about the response to the tragic death of George Floyd, and one of them was the response to an NFL quarterback’s stance on kneeling during the national anthem. I am speaking of Saints superstar Drew Brees, who incurred the wrath of many by saying he found it disrespectable.

Michael Thomas, the Saints’ star wide receiver, even warned Brees that he should watch his back after his comments. His rebuke was one of many from high-profile athletes. It’s puzzling because it seems like everyone shouts about first amendment rights until someone with an adversarial position speaks their mind.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past four years, you should know that former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial discrimination in 2016, and many Americans felt he was disrespecting the military and the flag of the United States.

That list of Americans includes me. By the way, Kaepernick’s disrespect of the American flag is not new. In 1968, two African-American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, each raised a black-gloved fist when the National Anthem was played after Smith won the 200-meter race in the Olympics.

There is a time and a place to protest racial discrimination. – but not during the playing of the national anthem.  When the national anthem plays before a Saints game, Brees says he thinks about his “two grandfathers who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marines.

“We still have a long way to go, but I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better and that we are all part of the solution,” Brees said. What is so outrageous about that?

I have many questions about this. Since when did patriotism become an affront to some people seeking racial equality? Why do people associate the American flag with racism? I can understand the association with the Confederate flag but not an American flag that once united people of different races, colors and creeds.

I have another question. What is so offensive about stating that all lives matter? That’s what the 60-year Napear tweeted to DeMarcus Cousins when asked for his opinion on the Black Lives Matter Movement. Is it racist to believe that all lives matter? If that’s true, my deduction is that we have a lot of racists everywhere.

I agree with Brees about the idea of finding things that unite us as Americans. We can unite around the ideal that police brutality needs to be eliminated. We can unite and agree that the death of George Floyd was tragic and that no one should be pinned to the ground by a knee to the neck by a police officer, or anyone.

Why can’t we unite around the fact that we are all Americans, living in the greatest country in the world? I didn’t say we are living in a perfect country. Like Brees said, we could all unite and agree as Americans that we are in this together and can do better together as we show mutual respect and love for each other.



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