Politico Claims the NFL Made Colin Kaepernick a Civil Rights Martyr

AP Photo Ted S. Warren
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

A recent Politico piece calls Colin Kaepernick a civil rights martyr, it also claims the NFL helped him achieve that status through a litany of unforced errors.

In his September 3 piece, author Ben Strauss hinted that the NFL should have allowed itself to be held hostage by a single player to avoid turning that player into a focus by self-interested civil rights activists.

Strauss cites the opinions and actions of left-wing groups who are rallying to Kaepernick’s side to use him for their own ends. But he gives short shrift to the other side, barely acknowledges a growing body of proof that Kaepernick is not being blackballed, and seems uninterested that a large majority of the fans were unimpressed by Kaepernick’s protests in the first place. Strauss also blamed the whole thing on President Donald Trump.

In his piece, Strauss quotes liberal professor Dr. Harry Edwards, a man who helped advise the two Olympians who raised the militant, black power fist during the 1968 Olympics. Edwards, Strauss said,warned the NFL to give Colin Kaepernick anything he wanted so as to prevent him from becoming a martyr for left-wing, social justice advocates.

“Edwards also saw an increasingly divided country led by a president who seemed to relish stoking racial tensions,” Strauss wrote. “If the NFL could not find a way to put Kaepernick on a roster, Edwards reasoned, the league risked turning a workplace dispute into a full-blown and far more embarrassing racial controversy.”

“Edwards spelled it out as clearly as he could,” Strauss added, “DON’T MAKE HIM A MARTYR!”

Strauss points out that since Kaepernick’s “blackballing” the social justice warriors have, indeed, suddenly come out of the woodwork to proclaim boycotts and shout epithets at those who oppose Kaepernick’s employment in the league.

“With the regular season scheduled to start in four days, Kaepernick remains unsigned. Nefarious or not, the league’s collective refusal to put Kaepernick on the field has backfired,” he wrote.

Strauss characterized Kaepernick’s protest as a “silent protest” saying, “Kaepernick became the silent symbol of a sideline protest movement that has grown far beyond the league’s ability to contain it.”

Kaepernick’s protests may have started that way, but Kaepernick himself expanded his protests into a statement against police in particular and the entire country in general. For instance, he wore socks portraying police as pigs. This is an act that turned a discussion about police occasional brutality into a blanket statement of hate for all police regardless of their actions. He also said that the U.S. was never great, meaning that he stands against the whole country in general, not just against “racism.” He has also proclaimed that the whole of the country is racist –despite that he was adopted and raised by a white family. Additionally, Kaepernick has been seen wearing a Fidel Castro shirt thereby celebrating a man who has murdered hundreds of thousands of political opponents over the last 50 years. He is also a supporter of the Black Lives Matter, a group many Americans feel is a domestic terror outfit that has been responsible for multiple riots, millions in property destruction, and deaths across the U.S.

Colin Kaepernick’s protests and actions changed from his initial mild-mannered protest. It grew into a more direct attack on America as opposed to a mere attempt to address racism and scattered instances of “police brutality.”

Strauss also tried to make the Kaepernick’s situation Donald Trump’s fault. Despite the lack of concrete proof or a citing of any actual quotes, Strauss regurgitates the left-wing accusation that Trump somehow caused the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and employs “dog whistle, code words” to fan the flames of racism.

Half way through the article, Strauss says, “White identity politics have been central to Trump’s presidency,” and a paragraph later knocked Trump for his “widely rebuked equivocations about where blame lay” for the violence at Charlottesville.

Strauss also quoted Edwards on Trump’s “racism:”

Edwards is convinced that as long as Trump is president, it does not matter what the league does. Trump, he said, will continue to stir racial controversy at every turn — and football players, like other Americans, will respond. “You look out at the football field, and it might as well be Ghana versus Nigeria out there,” Edwards said. “Trump was just on the cover of how many magazines tied to the KKK? These players, and an increasing number of white players, are going to push back if this keeps happening.” He added that signing Kaepernick would have little effect on the protests at this point.

Further, Strauss only quotes liberals and Democrats in his discussion of how Trump is at fault for Kaepernick’s martyrdom.

Throughout, the writer ignores any center right evidence or quotes that Kaepernick himself, not his protest, is the problem. For instance, the writer discounts the recent J.D. Power poll that shows that those who quit watching the NFL did so because of Kaepernick’s constant anti-American protests. Further, Strauss didn’t note to his readers that the J.D. Power poll is not the only poll that found these results. A recent YouGov poll also found that fans have quit watching the NFL over Kaepernick’s protests.

Then there is the reaction to the protests in actions outside of polls.

Last month a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Cleveland announced a boycott of the Cleveland Browns after nearly a dozen members of the team knelt in protest against the country during a pre-season game. Just over a week later, Cleveland’s police and other first responders turned down an offer from the team to participate in a flag-themed, pre-game event also due to the team’s anti-American protests.

Strauss practically ignored all this. He also ignored the several reports that tend to prove that the NFL is not eschewing Kaepernick because the league is “racist.”

Indeed, dozens of players have and continue to protest during the anthem. Many of them are black, and not one of them have been fired or censured by their teams or the league. If the NFL was racist, how could this be?

Then there is the growing number of reports that coaches have turned Kaepernick down simply because his style of go-it-alone play does not fit in with their team-oriented playbook. A piece by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer found that a group of executives and coaches said that Kaepernick simply does not fit in with their style. His politics had nothing to do with their decision to take a pass on offering him a workout.

Finally, some players have also said that Kaepernick is unemployed because he just isn’t good enough in the right way for most teams.

Opining on Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment, Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy said last month that Kaepernick may not have been sidelined so much because of his national anthem protests, but because he isn’t a good enough player. McCoy also noted that Kaepernick isn’t a good enough player to be worth bringing his types of “distractions” into a team’s locker-room.

But all this tends to defeat Strauss and Politico’s narrative that the NFL is racist and Colin Kaepernick is an innocent and stain-free martyr who is being unfairly treated.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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