It is so hard to listen to intellectually dishonest people discuss important political issues.
They spend all day twisting themselves into political pretzels to support a narrative that benefits the partisan team to which they belong.
Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem. One side says he is disrespecting the troops or the flag. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If you listened to Kaepernick’s own words or went to the smallest amount of trouble possible and perform an online search for the origin of his movement, you would know that.
The people who feed you that narrative are fake patriots using your true patriotism for their own gain.
The NFL players’ decision to protest is also not a blanket indictment of every police officer in America. No one thinks that all police officers — or even a significant percentage of them — are anything other than dedicated public servants.
I walk past the home of several police officers in my neighborhood every day. Everyone in that neighborhood is excited that they live so close to us. As a rule, police officers are great people who risk their lives every day. They never know when that one normal task will become the next scary statistic. They are underpaid for what they do. Professional athletes don’t suffer from that fate. However, many of the same athletes who kneel during the national anthem also give to charities that support the great things officers do in every community.
But if you don’t understand why a black millionaire who gets paid well to play a game would take a knee during the national anthem in order to draw attention to a problem plaguing America, you are missing some facts.
Let’s look at the case of a black man in Dallas who was recently killed by a police officer. The story itself looks like a tragic sitcom plot if only a man hadn’t ended up dead. If off duty officer Amber Guyger had pepper sprayed the man, they might have both had a big laugh about the incident later. But she didn’t. She shot him and he died.
That is only being complicated by the way the situation is being handled.
The officer was returning home after a long shift. Somehow, she forgot where she lived. We can all draw our own conclusions as to why that might be, but regardless, she went to Botham Jean’s apartment on floor number three instead of her own apartment on floor number four.
He had a red welcome mat. She did not. There were plenty of other differences that would have signaled to a person that they weren’t at their own home.
She said she found the door — which she claims to believe was that of her own apartment, despite the red welcome mat — ajar. Finding your front door ajar, would be a cause of concern. She then saw a man in what she thought was her apartment. She said she made commands of him, which he did not obey. Then she shot him to protect herself.
He was a man sitting in his own home when someone broke in and shot him dead.
The officer has been arrested and charged with manslaughter. The items that bring concern to the black community are pretty glaring in this case. Reports seem to show that the officer didn’t submit to drug and alcohol tests for 72 hours after the shooting. Those test results won’t be very helpful to Texas Rangers who are doing the investigation. Her apartment also wasn’t searched by authorities.
In one way, I understand that because the shooting occurred in Jean’s apartment, not hers. But investigators released that a small amount of marijuana was found in Jean’s apartment during the execution of the search warrant. We’ll never know if Guyger had any drugs in her apartment.
The fact that the victim had marijuana in his apartment had nothing to do with him being shot. Officer Guyger was the one who didn’t know where she was or whose home she was entering. The man whose reputation is being trashed to help her cause was in the correct apartment.
There are many details that aren’t known now and because of the time that was allowed to pass between the shooting and the collection of some evidence, we may never know.
But what every black person knows — and fears — is that if the same story had happened in reverse, Jean would not enjoy the same delays or releases to FOX News about items found in her apartment. If the black man had stumbled into someone else’s apartment, he wouldn’t have been arrested days later and the charge wouldn’t have been manslaughter. And you can bet that the white victim wouldn’t be dragged through the mud while the black suspect’s apartment went unchecked.
According to the prison Policy Initiative, in Texas black people are incarcerated at a rate of almost four times greater than white people. There are 2,855 inmates per 100,000 black people in Texas compared to 785 for white people. If you are wondering, the discrepancy is worse in Oklahoma at 3,796 to 767. In Oklahoma, black people are five times more likely to be in jail. There is no study that can explain that margin without including institutional racism as at least a part of it.
There are surely some socio-economic and other non-race related explanations for part of that number. But there is no way to escape the fact that black people are more likely to be contacted, arrested and imprisoned than other races in Oklahoma, Texas and across the nation.
It isn’t just anecdotes. Evidence supports that fact.
Black men make up 22 percent of the number of people shot by police each year. They only make up six percent of the population. That’s not a problem — unless of course you are a black man.
Until a black suspect and a white suspect and a black victim and a white officer are treated the same way under the flag, men will continue to kneel during the national anthem.
Most people get that.
It is awful that people make that a partisan issue. The Declaration of Independence says that “all men are created equal” but that wasn’t true for black people when it was written.
In more than two centuries of American life, the plight of people of color has improved a lot, but all men still aren’t treated equal. Darker skin still makes a difference. It shouldn’t, but it does. Until the color of your skin isn’t a statistically significant factor in whether you are arrested or shot by authorities, protests should be expected and respected. The best way to stop them is to prove those who protest wrong by treating everyone equally.
The case in Dallas proves that we aren’t there yet.
Those who kneel don’t hate this country, its flag or its troops. They know that their right to kneel was bought and paid for with the sacrifice of the troops for the country that the flag represents.
But they also know that people who look like them who aren’t millionaires are more likely to end up in jail or dead with no real justification or repercussions.
Until that isn’t true, I won’t criticize them for taking a stand by not standing.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at email@example.com.