How could the NFL's decision to play the Black National Anthem at games promote unity?
For many Americans and die-hard sports fans, outrage to the NFL's decision to include the Black National Anthem in the pregame ceremonies during week one of the season was immediate.
Ted Cruz was among the outraged, calling the decision ‘asinine.'
“How many national anthems do we have??
“Is there an Hispanic national anthem?
“An Asian-American national anthem?
“This is asinine. We are ONE America. E Pluribus Unum,” he wrote.
He isn't wrong.
In fact, if we are going to slice and dice our nation into its various subcultures at sporting events, I propose another anthem might make more sense. A song for the millions of slaughtered unborn children should resound in stadiums all over the nation. Or, how about songs of justice for abused children and spouses? Victims of human trafficking?
After we finish singing songs to, for and about all of the maligned people groups, and handily created sharp division between them all, many hours later we could finally play some football.
THE DEEP GRIEF OF RACISM
It should be terribly grieving to every American, and certainly to every Christian, when any person is the target of hatred. My family and I live in Branson, Missouri, a stunningly beautiful tourist destination that's filled to overflowing with people of great character, faith, love and old-fashioned morals. Out of any place in the nation we could have chosen to live, we chose Branson, and we'd do it all over again. This is home.
I was saddened recently when a small, peaceful protest produced hate speech from one impassioned lady. Her disgusting message has since been blasted over media all around the world. This lady doesn't represent the legacy and culture of this supremely family town. Yet, her squeaky wheel received the attention. She wounded our town. She misrepresented Branson and the amazing pillars of our community. To her credit she did later apologize, but the damage has been done.
The point? The feelings, beliefs and actions of one person, or a subset of people, do not, by default, represent the whole. What we have in our nation today is barrels full of grease being shot super-soaker style toward those with the loudest voices. This is no way to defeat racism, division, hatred, inequality or any number of other negatives.
MANIPULATION AND CONTROL
Protests, when peaceful, can be fully appropriate. The problem comes when people start carrying a spirit of protest. (Read more about this in my article An Unholy Spirit of Protest is Overtaking our Nation)
This spirit of protest is overtaking our nation, manifesting in a diabolical cancel culture that seeks to defame, defund and destroy anybody who doesn't affirm that agenda.
The problem is, while people can certainly attack and assault those who don't step in line with their viewpoints, they can't change their hearts.
Manipulating people into buying into agendas and attempting to control the narrative will never produce good fruit. I've heard it said that the horrible killing of George Floyd was initially resulting in at least a measure of solidarity and empathy between the races. Then the riots hit. People aggressively attempted to force the nation to grease their wheels. The result? Greater hatred, division and years of progress toward racial reconciliation lost.
Just as a Christian can't force an unbeliever to understand the love and power of Jesus, we can't force or manipulate others to buy in at a heart level to what is important to us. It's impossible.
SHOULD WE TAKE A KNEE DURING THE BLACK NATIONAL ANTHEM? METAPHORICALLY, YES
This is where the twist in the article comes. I agree with Ted Cruz that playing the Black National Anthem may very well end up creating more division. It's possibly presumptive as it grabs attention away from other worthy societal ills. Many Americans are very probably going to become more stubborn in their positions as a result.
However, I'd like to propose something that many seem to be missing. The Black National Anthem is, at least in part, a cry, a prayer to God. It's a heart-wrenching plea for the Almighty to guide them and for them to stay true.
First, a little history on the song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”:
Created by James Weldon Johnson, it was performed for the first time by 500 school children in celebration of President Lincoln's Birthday on February 12, 1900 in Jacksonville, FL. The poem was set to music by Johnson's brother, John Rosamond Johnson, and soon adopted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as its official song.
And now, the lyrics from the end of the song:
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.
It's a prayer.
So, while on a political and cultural level, the playing of this Anthem may prove to be a colossal misstep, I believe we all can embrace the cry to God that will be sung by millions during week one of the 2020 NFL season.
Should we take a knee when the Black National Anthem is sung? I don't believe so. We should stand with the wounded Black community. By doing so we are, in effect, kneeling in prayer for them, for us and for our nation.
The phenomenon of social abuse is destroying America in the name of progress.
Canceled. Shamed. Bullied. Rejected. Outed. Hated. Destroyed.
The reports of cancelled, socially abused people are nearly non-stop in the news day after day. Educators suspended, athletes humiliated, actors fired, television shows cancelled, statues toppled, history rewritten. This is the fruit of today's wicked, unrelenting cancel culture.
Shaming, bullying and abusing those who aren't promoting certain promoted narratives is a primary offensive weapon of ruthless outrage mobs.
President Obama, speaking on the socially abusive cancel culture said, “…the way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people… You see how woke I was, I called you out. That's not activism. That's not bringing about change.”
When your ideologies, questions and even your silence are threatening to those who are vigorously advancing their cause, whatever it may be, social abuse becomes an option.
The penance they demand is determined not by an absolving priest but by a self-appointed jury seeking your destruction. The outrage mob rises up en force against the detractors and nothing short of renunciation of their values or destruction of their character will do. In America's cancel culture, blood-lust drives self-appointed moral revolutionaries to strip you of your dignity and parade you naked across social media.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Genesis 9:22 (ESV)
A curse was the result of this shaming of Noah (which pales in comparison to today's hateful exposing). We have a choice as a nation. Cover in love and be blessed or report another's nakedness to the world and be cursed.
23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. Genesis 9:23 (ESV)
Hateful uncovering and blacklisting is an ironic tactic people utilize against those they believe to be, well, hateful. It's the white-collar equivalent of the outrage mobs in the streets, rioters who are destroying businesses and lives with firebombs and violence in the name of eventual peace. They are attempting to drive out hate with hate, and not only will that never work, but it exposes their hypocrisy.
THE FUTILITY OF TAKING A KNEE
The socially abusive cancel culture has stricken another victim, future Hall of Famer, NFL quarterback Drew Brees. Drew heroically maintained his stand (a stand that millions of Americans applaud) that kneeling during the National Anthem was profoundly inappropriate.
Call in the outrage mob.
Skip Bayless tweeted, “Drew’s comments represented an elite, white insensitivity where you just live in your own world. It goes back to the question of whether he can do enough to be accepted as reformed.”
So, one of the NFL's most authentic and truly good guys now has to be reformed because of a single, non-controversial statement that the majority of Americans hold to? After receiving death threats and hateful retorts, his wife Brittany relented and confessed,”We are the problem.”
Skip Bayless also attacked actor Mark Wahlberg and said, “These racial incidents have been hiding in plain sight on Mark Wahlberg’s Wikipedia page since Wikipedia was born. Shannon (Sharpe) has always taught me that once you’re a racist, you’re a racist, and I’ll never quite trust you again.”
Skip, I implore you to examine the absolute love and forgiveness of Jesus. A haunting past is the fuel for the social abuse movement in our nation. If our past seals our future, there is no hope, and Skip, you yourself are doomed.
You have to ask (at risk of being socially abused) just what is the purpose of kneeling during the National Anthem? People defend the action by saying it has nothing to do with the flag. That's interesting, because the exact moment they chose to protest was when we are standing up for the flag. Not at halftime, not at the coin toss, not during player announcements (of course not), not when the game has finished (as praying Christian players do at the 50-yard-line). The protest is during our National Anthem. The protest is about our flag.
They say it's to bring attention to racism and police brutality. I don't believe there's a single solitary soul in America that isn't aware of that endeavor.
It's said that it's to promote change. I'd argue there are very few who would oppose the annihilation of racism and violence. Yes, it's true that change must come, and it's a rare few who would not agree with that statement.
Thankfully, Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson said, “players might not kneel if they believe they are listened to when they speak about use of force by police and a variety of other social issues…” Players, we hear you. We really do.
Divisive actions such as kneeling and shaming actually do great damage to the cause, and it crushes the spirit of our nation. It should be obvious that we can highly value our black brothers and sisters and the change we are all pursuing and also highly honor our veterans and the flag of our great nation. It's not either/or, it's both/and.
SOCIAL ABUSE AND CANCEL CULTURE IS RAMPING UP
The cancel culture protagonists are relentlessly attacking any and all who don't rally around narratives that have been determined by a few to be absolute truth. The classic television show COPS was cancelled. Elmer Fudd turned in his gun. Gone With The Wind was removed by HBO Max. Children's show Paw Patrol apparently spews pro-police propaganda. (Not propaganda, folks. It's pure, overt pro-police appreciation. Nearly every single one of America's police officers are heroes.)
Wichita State University President Jay Golden cancelled an Ivanka Trump speech after a squeaky-wheeled outrage mob of 500 demanded she not be allowed to speak.
Ben Shapiro has regularly experienced the same discrimination at college campuses. Gonzaga University has cancelled his appearance twice. Grand Canyon University cancelled Ben too as have Cal State Los Angeles and Middlebury College.
Gordon Klein, a professor at UCLA was suspended from his job for a shocking violation: he required his students to take their finals. A demand that is shockingly similar to segregation of old was forced upon him. Due to the crisis surrounding the murder of George Floyd, an outrage mob called for black students alone to be exempt from the test. I can't believe I just wrote that sentence. I can't believe I'm going to write this next one. UCLA suspended Gordon Klein for three weeks because of this.
The New York Post reports, “Klein — whom students slammed as “racist” and “dismissive” — was also placed under police protection at his Malibu home after receiving threats from critics…”
The Flash actor Hartley Sawyer was fired after some of his old tweets were discovered. While he apologized, that wasn't enough for today's hyper-sensitive and hypocritical outrage mob (who doesn't have some sort of a past?). Fired. Terminated. Destroyed. Success.
GRACE TO GROW
If Skip Bayless has his way, no racist will ever be able to repent, apologize and change. They might as well just remain diseased by hatred for the rest of their lives. It would seem that others are equally hopeless, never able to learn from mistakes, always paying for their deeds and tweets and philosophies. It doesn't matter if they were naive children or if years of lessons leading to maturity have passed. No forgiveness, no grace to grow. A punitive response is the only response the outrage mob has to offer.
Hartley Sawyer offered this heartfelt apology, “My words, irrelevant of being meant with an intent of humor, were hurtful, and unacceptable. I am ashamed I was capable of these really horrible attempts to get attention at that time. I regret them deeply. I am incredibly sorry, ashamed and disappointed in myself for my ignorance back then. I want to be very clear: this is not reflective of what I think or who I am now.”
Not enough it seems. Let the outrage continue. Vigilante justice reigns supreme.
FOX News political commentator Lisa Boothe tweeted, “I feel like we are all one tweet away from getting fired these days.” That's the terror cancel culture wants us all to carry. The cancel culture elite make the rules and we must tremble in fear at their great power.
THANKFULLY WE HAVE SOME COMPETING VOICES
“Within the industry, they're able to weaponize social media to essentially create these rage mobs and drive talented people from their positions.”
Comedian Kevin Hart has had enough of the nonsense too.
“We can’t be so persistent with the search to find and destroy. Although some things are warranted and I understand, it’s just us as people have got to be smart enough to go … you know what, whatever has happened, has happened, but people deserve a chance to move on,” he said.
“Life isn’t over because people say it is, and that’s what’s been happening as of late. It’s like people determine when your end button is pushed, but that’s not how it works. We need to lose that attitude and feeling and let people grow.”
In an interview with Megyn Kelly, Bill Maher said the irony of cancel culture is “that the people who hate bullying are always bullying.”
“All they care about is getting a scalp on the wall,” he continued. “They don't care if you're really a racist, which you're not. They don't care about a million things. That's what they care about, and they always want to find the worst version of what any person is.”
And finally, Demi Lovato, who admits to being cancelled many times, said that she would like to switch out cancel culture for something called “forgiveness culture.” This, she said, would involve a person apologizing for what they might have done so they can be a good role model for others.
I agree. Maybe agree to disagree culture would be healthy too.
First published by The Stream.