Why “Taking A Knee” Is A Lie

I have had a disagreement with a few friends over the business of “taking a knee” at public events.

Sport has been one of the great healing realities of our age. And what has been ruining it are three things: drugs, politics, and money.

Kneeling is about politics. And my main reason for disagreement is that one man’s knee is another man’s salute.

In other words, “taking a knee” for something you personally disapprove of may be an attack on something others personally favor (like their country). But a kneeler decides for personal reasons to over-ride that possibility for his or her own moral purposes. So from this perspective, kneeling is actually a form of moral bullying.

After all, who am I, or anyone, to commandeer a public event everyone came to enjoy free of unpleasantness, and turn it into a caustic and divisive moral war? Taking a knee, besides being a personal and partisan move, as I say, is morally-insulting to those who may sincerely support whatever the kneeler happens to disapprove of, but are simply too well-mannered to convert into a public quarrel.

I knew Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who gave the black-glove salute on the Olympic Podium in Mexico City in 1968. I completely understood their concerns as black citizens upset with American life at the time (although they were then very privileged black citizens attending a major university free of charge, who attracted lucrative sponsorship interest). And I told them afterward, once back at San Jose State where we all trained, that I thought they made a selfish move that imposed their personal political views on everyone else, and broke the “Olympic Peace” – the understanding that at least once every four weeks, for just a couple of weeks, all the fractious nations of the world can get together to enjoy bonding in the love of sport and just keep their mouths shut.

I have no problem with violence-free protesting. In a free society, individuals who can attract a crowd to hear their grievances and aspirations are free to do so. But sport-kneelers did not attract a crowd to hear them complain. The crowd paid money to watch them win or lose at their sport.

So you could argue – I do – that kneelers are being dishonest; they are moral bullies, unashamed of deceiving an audience that came to watch them perform by imposing on them – stuck in their seats as they are – a different performance than the one they came to see.

2 thoughts on “Why “Taking A Knee” Is A Lie”

  1. I agree with your comments. A professional athlete is paid a salary and is an employee. He/she is not paid “to impose their political views on everyone else” or to “virtue signal” or whatever it is they think they are doing. To say they are “moral bullies” is a bit of a stretch because few, if any, have the “gravitas” to be taken seriously. Employers, in my view, have the power and the right to stop this practice and if they permit it, well, it says a lot about them. Colin Kaepernick is a dick!

    Anyway, I am not venting but I am a “new subscriber”, 76 years old and appreciate your articles more than you can imagine. Thank you!

    • Thanks Bert. As an afterthought, I should add that as a kind of agreement among the nations of the world, there is something we could call “The Olympic Peace” or the “olympic truce” whereby all participating nations agree in advance to lay down their arms and compete with their brothers and sisters for the love of sport for the two weeks of the Games. This was modeled after the same practice during the ancient Olympic Games, which went on for almost 500 years (and then were continued after the conquest of Greece by the Romans. I think Smith and Carlos had legitimate grievances they wanted to express on behalf of their race. But it is almost certain that half the athletes at every games have similar grievances, and if they all did what Smith and Carlos did, the Games would end.

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