By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE – So what is it all really about, this kneel-or-not-to-kneel controversy stirred up by the “president” recently?
Was it really about what NFL players do before a game during the national anthem?
Given the fact that the players generally weren’t on sidelines for pre-game pomp until 2009, around the time the military and the NFL struck a mutually beneficially deal to exploit the new brand of conditional patriotism spawned after 9/11, not really.
Was it about this generation’s Curt Flood, Colin Kaepernick, who is not even playing this year – and is seemingly in hiding?
Nope, not really.
For the answer, peel away the layers and see what’s left.
With his make-believe empire crumbling around him, the “president” stirred his pot of diversion while in Mobile, Alabama.
He was campaigning for Luther Strange, who was about to engage in a runoff election against Judge Roy Moore in a special election to fill the senate vacated when former senator, Jeff Sessions, made the fateful choice to of going from deep-fryer into the fire and become the attorney general.
This is in Alabama, y’all, where “heritage” is a dollar-store disguise for hate.
The kind of place where baseless claims have hit a bull’s eye with his base, where “real” Americans fly flags of treason next to the Old Glory that is to be honored without dissent.
When the “president” tossed Crimson-colored meat to his ravenous followers and ranted about “firing” (there is no such term for NFL players, who are “cut” or “released,” usually with financial consequences for the team that signed them to contracts) those “son of bitch” (i.e. black) football players, it was to appeal to the lowest common denominator in the state that ranks 45th in education.
If they were a little quicker on the uptake, they might have known that a grand total of 10 players out of more than 1,000 took a knee during the previous week’s national anthem.
After he threw his stink bomb, an estimated 250 took a knee.
Seemingly, it lacked a spiral.
Playing his own “Trump” card, the far-right Moore, who was backed by former White House advisor scorned Steve Bannon and holds extreme views like wanting to ban homosexuality (always have to wonder about those who doth protest too much), waived around a gun at a rally a few nights later.
The message: You don’t out-Alabama an Alabama boy in Alabama.
He won by 10 points.
A sweet win for Moore and more Tweets from the “president.”
And that’s what this was all about.
It wasn’t about the NFL’s “son of a bitch” players at all.
It was about who was going to out-Alabama each other the most, in a race to the bottom in an appeal for the bottom-feeder vote.
In the end, it was Moore – hailing from Etowah County, which most known for a still-simmering 1906 lynching case after a white woman was killed – who was able to out-Alabama the slick-talkin’ billionaire Yankee from New York.
This is the Alabama where its “Black Belt Region,” where a large number of black voters live, are subjected to systematic voter suppression tactics (driver’s license centers closing before elections where photo IDs are required).
This is the Alabama where former governor and presidential candidate George Wallace was one of the last segregationist holdouts.
This is the Alabama where they are generally too dumb to realize that the Florida-based band Lynyrd Skynyrd was purportedly merely mocking the Wallace mindset in the state’s unofficial anthem, “Sweet Home Alabama.”
But the “president,” well, he “loves the uneducated.”
That’s probably why he doesn’t love the NFL, and its owners and players.
Turned out the “son of a bitch” players, and the owners who won’t “fire” them, are more sophisticated than he is on his last good day (if anyone can remember when that was).
What he learned – or should have – in his proxy battle with Bannon in the state that ranks fifth all-time in deaths by lynch mob is that more NFL players, and other pro athletes, are more educated than he would like.
Those interviewed – including NBA megastars Stephen Curry and LeBron James — after what will likely be the tip of the protest ice berg were they were as articulate about their reasons as the supposed leader of the free world was incapable of making sense of the issues.
It’s only going to get more intense when basketball season starts, and don’t be surprised if some of the NHL’s 25-30 players “of-color” players make a stand — or kneel — as well (despite being a league that includes many Europeans).
Being surrounded by sycophants afraid to tell him the truth, the “president” fails to realize that one is not a “son of bitch” for peacefully protesting while a White Nationalist/Neo-Nazi/Klansman – the “base” that Bannon told him to coddle – are not full of “many fine people.”
And when you ducked service in the military yourself with mythical bone spurs, you might be the last one to be preaching about disrespect to the flag and the military.
And for those who follow sports closely, who know that athletes with contracts are not at-will employees to be “fired” on a whim – you know, like on a reality TV show — his motives not only seems curious but were also exposed to a larger audience.
The “president” has his own axe to grind with the NFL, which rejected his bid to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014. The antipathy goes back further, when he tried to force a merger with the USFL (he owned that league’s New Jersey Generals) and the NFL but saw his smirk turn to a frown when his awarded $1 in anti-trust lawsuit.
The result of the backfire?
The USFL, which was doing well in the spring, was dead – just like his many bankrupted companies – and a lot people were out of work, not just those on his team.
Was all this on his mind during the rant, which also included belligerence about the league attempted to catch up to itself on the concussion issue (one that also affects members of the military)?
But that’s not what this was all about.
This was about one thing.
It was about a state that proved not to be such a sweet home to his brand of bitter divisiveness.
It was about Alabama.