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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Kneeling

Just on a practical level, why is kneeling in this culture a form of protest or disrespect? I thought that kneeling was an expression of submission and powerlessness. The faithful kneel before God. Gentlemen kneel before ladies. When a guy gets on one knee to propose, he’s clearly not protesting anything, right? I’m just not getting it. If you remain seated for the anthem, ok, that’s disrespect. But taking a knee?

Can somebody explain?

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32 thoughts on “Kneeling

  1. Stringer Bell on said:

    “A few weeks later, during preseason, my teammate Colin Kaepernick chose to sit
    on the bench during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
    .
    .

    After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired
    Green Beret and former N.F.L. player, we came to the conclusion that we should
    kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We
    chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.

    It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the
    country, flag and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.”

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  2. Stringer Bell on said:

    “Can somebody explain?”

    Yes. Conservatives are easily-triggered snowflakes.

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  3. Dreidel on said:

    “Can somebody explain?”

    Sure, Ill be happy to step up and explain. It’s not about disrespecting the flag and the troops and all that. It’s about protesting police brutality. Well, actually, it’s about several football players mimicking a single athlete who thought that’s what it was about, so he become unemployable. Then it was about Trump finding another distraction to rally his base. So then of course it was all about a lot of millionaire linebackers giving the finger to Trump and his supporters. Then it was about constitutional rights and free speech, before it became a matter of NFL players being under a contract, so certain team owners decided they had the moral obligation/bottom-line financial obligation to order the players to all stand up or be benched, so the people who buy game tickets and watch television would or wouldn’t be offended, and then it was…

    Well, in more simple terms, it was really about — or maybe it was…All clear now? Oh, forget it!

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  4. I don’t get the kneeling either. The reason for kneeling and the flag are so disconnected it’s like saying I’m kneeling to protest for climate change. For me the flag represents the ideals of what the nation is, so it goes beyond day to day miseries. Social injustice and police brutality are good things to work to eradicate, but not with a speech which mixes apples and oranges and cries murder in those cases where legitimately a police office had to fight for his life when being attacked. I really dislike when social media has judged and condemned before even the judge gets the file. Punishing because of everyone screaming for it is a medieval thing…hopefully we have laws that bring objectivity and due process.


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    • What I don’t get is this. People on social media have been obsessed with this for weeks. They aren’t football fans and they had zero interest in the protests against police brutality here in the area. Which is perfectly fine, I’ll never judge anybody for that. But they are obsessed with this story. A nice old lady, a lovely person, poked gentle fun at me for coming out to protest with my BLM poster. And now she’s all over this story, to the point that I want to unfriend her because it’s repetitive.

      I just don’t get which aspect of the story gets her so much. That Trump is bad? But we’ve known this for decades.

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    • Evelina Anville on said:

      There is nothing disrespectful about kneeling whatsoever. The “kneeler backlash” is nakedly and unabashedly racist.

      It is often painful and sometimes deadly to be black in this country–even for wealthy men. And many (perhaps most) white people stubbornly refuse black people ANY public outlet, no matter how quiet or small, to express their grief or anger.

      And yes these players are indeed rich men. Many of them were not born rich. Many of them came from difficult, poverty-stricken backgrounds and football was their ticket out. We aren’t looking at spoiled Donald Trump’s here. And even if they were born rich……why shouldn’t a wealthy black man make use of his power and influence to make a statement?

      And when white “owners” start issuing ultimatums to black players barring them from their quiet protest or when a sitting president starts publicly criticizing private citizens, we have a problem. A problem that goes way beyond the NFL.

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      • Hey, I think they should kneel, sit, stand, jump or do whatever takes their fancy. Many people disapproved of my protesting activities, both in substance and in form, and I don’t care because it’s my right to protest. I have no issue with this protest whatsoever.

        What I sincerely don’t get is why it’s such a major story for so long. Because they are celebrities? I’m from a different culture and I’m simply trying to understand.

        A Ukrainian soccer player in Spain went out into the field wrapped in the Ukrainian flag. The ultras screamed him down and he was booted from the team. This was a bit of an issue in Ukraine for exactly two days. Then everybody moved on. And that’s in a country at war where patriotic feelings are at a fever pitch. Even the most inflamed patriots on FB let go of the story almost immediately.

        I’m sensing a cultural difference here that I m trying to comprehend. It just feels weird not to be able to connect with this on any level.

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        • “I’m sensing a cultural difference here that I m trying to comprehend. It just feels weird not to be able to connect with this on any level”

          Okay (being descriptive and not prescriptive here) a central problem of the US has always been how to be one country with some cohesion at the national level minus the bonds of blood and/or religion behind European nation states.
          The two things that hold the country together (for a certain class of Americans) are language (identifiably American) and patriotism which entails universal standards of behavior and respect toward patriotic symbols and rituals.
          For many Americans ‘taking a knee’ is seen as a direct assault on one of the very few things that holds the country together. Take away that and the US will be Canada a place on the map with no core culture or identity (in the words of your pretty momma’s boy prime ministers).
          Football fans tend toward the section of the population that is seeing the affects of neoliberalism and fluidity on those below them socio-economically and the protest is giving them the idea that they’re next.
          I’m not saying I agree with all of that or that people can consciously articulate that, but that’s behind the anger – a specter is haunting the US the specter of fluidity and non-identity (which means the loss of consciousness and sense of being).

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          • I understand the football fans’ part of it. The anger against these rich guys whose only job in life is to entertain in exchange for enormous salaries. The rage that the entertainers should try to sell what one didn’t pay them to do. It’s like if a waitress started reciting her political Creed at me before serving the meal but aggravated by the money disparity. This part I get.

            What I don’t get is the educated, well-to-do, liberal people on my FB and Twitter who have been passionately attached to this story for weeks. They don’t even watch football! I understand saying, “Gosh, Trump is so nuts” and moving on to another story. It’s not like there’s a shortage of them. The evisceration of EPA, the anti-medicare vote last week are noticed but not nearly as emotionally. There was a flare-up about DACA but it’s died down, for the most part. But this story is just not going away. And the intensity is as great as on the first day.

            I’m not trying to judge anybody. I simply want to understand. There must be something in these stories that so massively capture the imagination that they have in common. And figuring it out can help to understand what the political future is.

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            • “What I don’t get is the educated, well-to-do, liberal people on my FB ”

              Not sure, partly I’m thinking my answer in reverse: This scares them for the same reason it angers fans (larger issues of dissolving national identity and fluidity) but they can’t afford to get mad at the players or themselves so they divert to fans and to Trump and diverted anger is always more persistent than real anger (because it’s not getting processed).

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        • Evelina Anville on said:

          Well I think that part of this is that it’s a continuing story. After CK failed to find a position, black players from across the NFL started kneeling. I guess the equivalent would be if many Ukrainian soccer players started getting on the field wrapped in Ukrainian flags after the player you referred to was fired.

          So we went from a single player kneeling to many black players kneeling every week. In addition, the Sunday football game is a highlight of the week in many American households and the kneeling players are implicitly connected with the Black Lives Matter movement. And, for many Americans, saying “Black Lives Matter” is impossibly radical. But even this probably would have faded with time.

          But then Trump got himself involved in the whole thing and, as he does, he took something that was a flicker and turned it into a conflagration. And, as I said before, it’s extraordinary to hear a sitting president lambaste a private citizen. I can’t think of any president during my life time doing it. I don’t think presidents in other countries do it. So it’s really just a strange situation.

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          • I know this guy, he’s a great fellow. Wouldn’t know a football from his elbow, and I’m saying this in the most loving way possible. I tried asking why he cares about this story soooo much but he responds with a fresh iteration of the drama, which isn’t a real answer. Yesterday, there was something really bizarre about Pence either not coming to a game or leaving early. My friend is gay, so it’s not like there is any shortage of things to hate Pence for. But somehow his not watching the game was the ultimate offense. Compared to everything else Pence has done and keeps doing, this is beyond minor. Or so I thought.

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  5. Stringer Bell on said:

    “His unimpressive on-the-field performance is the bigger reason for his unemployment. Had he not thrown so many interceptions he might still be playing.”

    lol get the fuck out of here.

    “I’ve seen hints that he’s p-whipped by his girlfriend ”

    Pussy-whipped, huh? I’ll use language that children like you will understand. By that I mean the MRA-types e who hate western women, lean alt-right, are easily impressed by pickup artist literature, and obsessed with ‘alpha’ males and what they do or don’t do.

    The only people who use this term beyond 8th grade are beta losers.

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  6. Stringer Bell on said:

    I’d also like to commend dreidel for giving a truly honest summary of this situation.

    The only thing I’ll add is that CK started doing this in 2016, way before Trump was elected, but liberals co-opted his specific protest about police brutality and made it into an anti-trump thing. Now it has become this blank canvas onto which anyone can project their own feelings.

    Nobody’s talking to him, and he’s been blackballed by the NFL and all team owners who would rather hire total bums and lose than hire him and win.

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  7. What was really funny was an idea that someone had that kneeling should become a form of protest against Trump and suggesting mass usage of this at his public appearances. Yeah people kneeling to him will surely let him know he’s being resisted….

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  8. I think the situation is similar to the Dixie Chicks (remember them?) Alienating your audience (whether or not it’s your intent) is a terrible strategy for performers whose livelihoods depend on maintaining public good will.

    https://cliffarroyo.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/kneeling-and-free-speech-for-entertainers/

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  9. Stringer Bell on said:

    Normal.

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  10. Stringer Bell on said:

    “Football fans tend toward the section of the population that is seeing the affects of neoliberalism”

    The football fans booing these players at the stadium, shouting racial skurs at them. aren’t suffering from economic anxiety. It costs $500 for a family of four to attend a NFL game.

    Lol @ economic anxiety. Come up with a better excuse to hate black people.

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    • Most people watch on TV. In bars, especially. And we already discussed that the anxiety of Trump supporters is not that of people who go hungry. It’s, as Vic Crain, the anxiety of not being able to afford the 4th car when you already have 3. I don’t think anybody who is interested in this on either side is remotely poor. Only in the sense of “blessed me the poor of spirit.”

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      • Besides, if you really paid $500 for the show, it might get quite maddening to pay for what you haven’t ordered.

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        • Evelina Anville on said:

          But players standing for the anthem isn’t part of the show. They aren’t refusing to play. They are just kneeling for 30 seconds before the show begins to express their anger and despair in the face of continued police brutality.

          For the most part I’m with you on the actress/Weinstein thing but I just don’t think the NFL protests are about millionaires throwing tantrums. To me, it underscores black pain and in justice–pain and injustice that (some) white people absolutely refuse to acknowledge even as black bodies pile up. It’s extraordinary to me that a silent, peaceful, 30 second ritual should incite this level of white rage.

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          • Do you think it’s ok for a professor to start a lecture on, say, math of French literature with a 30-second proclamation of his political stance? Or for a doctor to commence a procedure with an expression of her anger or despair? Or a dentist to recite a few slogans at you while you sit there with your mouth open?

            I don’t mind these players kneeling, dancing of doing jumping jacks. But then, I didn’t pay to be there. If I did pay and the professional in question used any portion of the time I paid for to express the political opinions I don’t have any interest in, I wouldn’t be happy. So I can’t entirely judge the fans who feel like they already pay a packet to make the athletes fabulously rich and don’t feel like giving anything on top of that.


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          • “But players standing for the anthem isn’t part of the show. ”

            The anthem is totally part of the show. That’s like saying the overture isn’t part of the opera.
            They are entertainers who have every right to express their opinion but if that opinion alienates their core audience then they might not have an audience. They have every right to kneel but they don’t have the right to force people to watch.

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  11. If the football league, the team owners, and the politicians are THAT miffed about the players kneeling during the National Anthem they should, perhaps, have the anthem performed by a hip-hop singer, or a heavy-metal band …or even a Dixieland-style jazz band for the matter.
    That way there’s no way anyone who’s even remotely human or passionate could ever remain seated for more than a few seconds.

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