Colin Kaepernick is back in the public’s consciousness. Joe Lockhart, the former White House press secretary, says the Minnesota Vikings should offer him a job. That’s just what Minnesota and the Vikings need now — a quarterback controversy involving Kaepernick.
But Lockhart’s suggestion seems wise compared to this column by Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post. She writes:
Two knees. One protesting in the grass, one pressing on the back of a man’s neck. Choose. You have to choose which knee you will defend. There are no half choices; there is no room for indifference. There is only the knee of protest or the knee on the neck.
NFL owners chose the knee on the neck. They did.
Jenkins’s need to say “they did” is a good sign that they didn’t. In no way did the NFL owners choose to have a cop put a knee on a man’s neck until he died.
I didn’t like it when Kaepernick took the knee during the playing of the National Anthem. However, I argued that he should be allowed to do it. And I certainly did not think he should be denied the chance to play in the NFL for taking the knee.
But there is no relation between the owners’ position on knee taking during the Anthem and what that bad cop did to George Floyd. The cop would have acted just as he did regardless of the NFL’s treatment of Kaepernick. And the rioters would be rioting.
Jenkins never quite gets around to explaining how it might be that the NFL chose a knee on the neck for George Floyd. She does say:
The result of indifference, evasion and avoidance, of stoppered ears and shaded eyes, is not benign. It leaves people defenseless.
But ruling out one particular protest gesture at one particular moment isn’t a shading of eyes to police brutality. The NFL never condoned police brutality or denied that it’s a problem. Nor has it tried to prevent anyone associated with the league from complaining about the problem (and many players have).
In any event, George Floyd would have been defenseless against the Minneapolis cop even if the NFL had permitted Kaepernick’s gesture — indeed, even if the owners themselves had taken a knee. What happened to Floyd was not the result of anything the NFL did or didn’t do.
Jenkins continues her incoherent rant with this:
All those who vilified Kaepernick, where is the same demand for banishment, the same level of ugly feeling, the same red-faced, foaming sense of injury over the insult to America in that video of Floyd’s death, three white cops with all of their weight on his burdened back, grinding him into that pavement?
Every conservative commentator I’ve read on the subject has called for the white cops to be punished, and for the worst of the three to be prosecuted for murder (unless the medical evidence rules out murder). The Trump administration says it will investigate Floyd’s death. I don’t recall any conservative commentator calling for Kaepernick to be prosecuted or investigated.
Having displayed her ignorance of the concept of causation, Jenkins proceeds to display her ignorance of political thought. She assures us:
The truth about Kaepernick is that he’s not a radical or a SOB.
Kaepernick considers America to be an imperialist nation bent on attacking “brown and black bodies.” After our military took out the Iranian terrorist Gen. Suleiman, Kaepernick said, “America militarism is the weapon wielded by American imperialism, to enforce its policing and plundering of the non white world.” This is Marxist-Leninist babble with some Frantz Fanon thrown in.
In response to the rioting in Minneapolis, Kaepernick tweeted:
When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction. The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance. We have the right to fight back!
To drive home the point, Kaepernick retweeted a picture of the Minneapolis Third Precinct police house on fire.
Either Jenkins hasn’t done her homework or she has no grasp of the ideological spectrum in American today.
The “two knee” theme must have seemed too good, from a literary standpoint, for Jenkins to resist. Unfortunately, the resulting column is an embarrassment — or would be if it did not appear in a newspaper that can no longer be embarrassed.