Home/Rod Dreher/NFL Divides America For ‘Diversity’

NFL Divides America For ‘Diversity’

(Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

The Yugoslavification of America by its elites proceeds apace. The Woke NFL really outdoes itself with this one:

“Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing,” traditionally known as the Black national anthem, is expected to be performed live or played before every Week 1 NFL game, and the league is considering a variety of other measures during the upcoming season to recognize victims of police brutality, a source familiar with the league’s discussions told The Undefeated on Thursday.

The song would be performed before “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the source said. The NFL’s season opener is scheduled for Sept. 10, with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.

Having recently displayed increased awareness about the problems of systemic racism, the NFL, in collaboration with the NFL Players Association, is also considering listing the names of victims on uniforms through decals on helmets or patches on jerseys. The NFL also may produce educational programs about victims, among other plans.

Unbelievable. Nothing against the Black National Anthem, but it is a powerfully symbolic gesture, and not in a good way, to give it equal footing with the National Anthem. Is “The Star-Spangled Banner” not the national anthem for black Americans too? Because that’s what this move is saying. It’s just head-shaking to have spent the last 50 years working to make the promises of America fulfilled for black Americans, who are every bit as American as anybody else, and now wake up to be told that actually, at the closest thing we have to a collective ritual — professional sports events — we are going to hear two national anthems on football’s opening day.

What’s next on the woke agenda? Starting an NFL Negro League? That’s where the logic of this is going.

Do you know how expensive it is to go to a professional football game? Look. Will the NFL really prosper by turning football into racially-charged anti-police pageants? Maybe so. I supported the right of NFL players to kneel at the National Anthem as a form of protest — but not Drew Brees being shamed into violating his conscience and kneeling, and certainly not this. You watch: they’ll start rolling Colin Kaepernick around the fields before games in a Popemobile to bless the crowd.

That said, conservatives who lament the politicization of professional sports behind racial causes need to step back and consider how the US military politicized professional sports to galvanize people behind its own valorization. Back in 2011, Andrew Bacevich, the historian and retired Army colonel, wrote a powerful piece about this phenomenon.  Excerpt:

In recent decades, an injunction to “support the troops” has emerged as a central tenet of that religion. Since 9/11 this imperative has become, if anything, even more binding. Indeed, as citizens, Americans today acknowledge no higher obligation.

Fulfilling that obligation has posed a challenge, however. Rather than doing so concretely, Americans—with a few honorable exceptions—have settled for symbolism. With their pronounced aversion to collective service and sacrifice (an inclination indulged by leaders of both political parties), Americans resist any definition of civic duty that threatens to crimp lifestyles.

To stand in solidarity with those on whom the burden of service and sacrifice falls is about as far as they will go. Expressions of solidarity affirm that the existing relationship between soldiers and society is consistent with democratic practice. By extension, so, too, is the distribution of prerogatives and responsibilities entailed by that relationship: a few fight, the rest applaud. Put simply, the message that citizens wish to convey to their soldiers is this: although choosing not to be with you, we are still for you (so long as being for you entails nothing on our part). Cheering for the troops, in effect, provides a convenient mechanism for voiding obligation and easing guilty consciences.

“Black Lives Matter” is going to be the “support the troops” of this decade.

UPDATE: Some of you seem to think that I have something against “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing”. By no means! It’s a beautiful hymn. My objection is rather to the use the NFL is putting it. A Christian reader who actually thinks singing that hymn would be a good thing on its own, in defiance of the evilness of the times, says:

It is a hell of a lot easier for the NFL owners who pull the strings to pander to wokeness than to address the inequalities between the % of black players and % of black staff/managers/coaches and especially owners. This is the underlying engine of woke capital: use social signaling to displace/defuse actual attacks on economic inequality.

UPDATE.2: OK, so what happens if players are expected to take a knee during the Black National Anthem, or face cancellation? The Black National Anthem is a Christian hymn, and a beautiful one. But what if a player is Muslim, Jewish, or of some other non-Christian creed? If I were not a Christian, I would not in good conscience be able to take a knee at the singing of that Christian hymn (though of course I could stand respectfully).

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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