Stannard: It took a knee to get our attention
Many people alive today don't remember the 1960s. If you don't live through tumultuous times it's hard to relate to them. We weren't around for our American Revolution, in which the Colonists revolted from the stranglehold of England's King George III. Many see this as a glorious time. Times of war are never glorious for the rank and file. It is those who choose to lead us into war who see war as glamorous. Our American Revolution occurred because those immigrants who came to live here decided that enough was enough.
People would rather live a life of peace. Circumstances change and when they change to the degree that it begins to impact their peace people get annoyed. Then they get angry. Then they protest. Then change occurs. The ruling class is perfectly content ruling over those they rule. The ruling class will never change until those who are ruled decide they've had enough.
When you read this I will be turning 69 years old. It's been an interesting time to be on this planet; although I suspect the time one is in is always interesting. The future is uncertain. The past can't be changed and the telling of the past is generally distorted. The time you're in is the time that catches your attention, or at least we hope it does. I was a teenager during the 60's and watched America morph from the days of innocence post World War II with Benny Goodman and black and white TV (with rabbit ears, no less) to the birth of rock and roll, long hair, pot, and kids protesting an unjust war. Maybe it was because the Vietnam War hit so close to home that caused the kids to get angry enough to take to the streets. Perhaps learning that a friend or family member who was in that "conflict" would not be coming home caught their attention. Or maybe learning that we had been repeatedly lied to by our leaders was the match that lit the flame of discontent among my generation. What ever the catalyst, was it ever successful. Boy, did we ever light up (no pun intended).
After those days calmed down we went on about our merry way living in what we perceived to be peace and harmony. Perception always trumps reality. We watched as our leaders, for better or worse, formed a global economy that seemingly overnight saw our manufacturing jobs disappear while high-tech jobs boomed. That was good for some, but really bad for many American workers who still feel betrayed. Did we protest then? No.
In 2001 we were attacked and watched as our World Trade Center collapsed to the ground. The response from our leader was to attack Iraq and send our kids into the sinkhole known as Afghanistan. We've been in Afghanistan for nearly a decade and a half creating more and more veterans who will not receive adequate care when they return. Did we protest these actions? No.
We've been at war with each other over the color of our skin for more than two hundred years. We like to think that we've made progress; "we" being white people, but black people don't see it that way and haven't for a long, long time. I've never heard of white people being racially profiled, have you? Black Americans have been subjected to an entirely different set of standards than white Americans for no other reason than the color of their skin. Have we, as a nation, protested this injustice? No.
A young quarterback football player made a decision that it was time someone did something. Before the start of the game, during the singing of the National Anthem, this young man, instead of standing, knelt down on one knee. Oh how the howling began. How dare a black football player have the audacity to disrespect our flag. This act of peaceful protest had nothing to do with the flag or the anthem. Our leaders knew full-well that they could use this protest as a wedge to drive us further apart. The athlete was making a statement that there are two Americas; one for white people and one for black people. Even today our current leader is promoting the false narrative of this act of protest. It was good to finally see the commissioner of the NFL admit that he was wrong in his condemnation of the protester. That's a start .. but it's not the end of the game. I've been wondering for 50 years what it was going to take to finally get my fellow Americans to put down their remotes, get up off the couch, walk outside and start screaming about what has happened to this country and those who live here, both black and white. It's ironic that, in the end, it took a knee. The knee of a white cop on the neck of a bound black man calling out for his mother and saying "I can't breathe." It took a knee.
Our ancestors revolted from the stranglehold of a king. It's time that we revolt from the stranglehold of
Bob Stannard is a Journal columnist.
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