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About this blog: I developed a special interest in helping seniors with their challenges and transitions when my dad had a stroke and I helped him through all the various stages of downsizing, packing, moving and finding an assisted living communi...  (More)

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Evolution of a Patriotic Man

Uploaded: Sep 26, 2017
When Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem last year I was of the mind that he was out of line, being disrespectful of the flag and the anthem and was trying to distract from his poor play on the field. I never did like all those tattoos which to me called out his poor judgement on how to live his life. If I recall, at that time there weren’t “so many” instances of police shooting and killing African Americans. There were some, but I don’t think there were “that many.” So, in my white mind, Colin was not justified in his protesting, and besides, he was a highly paid athlete who wasn’t delivering what he was being paid for, so he should just shut up and go away.

Then we started seeing other players join him in taking a knee or sitting out the anthem. Eric Reid from the 49ers. Players from other teams. Some white players started showing their support in various ways. Last year when Colin wore those pigs dressed like cops socks I thought he was taking things too far. But you know what? Serious, deadly things were happening to African Americans at the hands of the police. You could watch videos of it if you didn’t really believe they were happening. And maybe those teenagers and young men weren’t doing things which justified such a deadly use of force by the police. There was real fear in the communities of people of color. There always has been, but it was being ratcheted up to an alarming degree. Maybe radical times called for a more radical protest. Wearing socks with police as pigs, maybe that was stepping over the line. And certainly that caused people to start choosing sides. But that was unfortunate. Because there are no sides to choose here. 99.999% of our police force do a great job protecting us and deserve out respect and gratitude. Most dangerous job in America. But there is that .001% who are either poorly trained, over-scared, or out and out racists. Their actions undermine the confidence in the police that people on the other end of the stick (or gun) have. Or used to have.

Now you have a President who publicly told police it would be fine for them to treat arrested suspects more roughly when putting them into the back of a patrol car. And he chuckled when he said it. OK to bang their heads a little bit. Seemed like another silly Trumpism at the time. But that sent a strong message to law enforcement: do whatever you want to suspects you arrest. I’m backing you. This President now has attacked those who take a knee and protest, as unpatriotic and as disrespecting to the flag and our military. Actually, I now see that the opposite is true. These athletes, and some owners, by their protests are asking our country to do better and to honor our freedom and the concept of equality and justice. There is no dis-respect to the flag, anthem, military or police meant here. And now that the President has once again weighed in by telling owners they should fire the son of a bitch who dares take a knee, he has succeeded in unifying the players in a way no one else could have. (While the fans are reported to be “divided”, I believe that is a temporary condition that will evolve as time, and statements, and thoughtful reflection go by.) He’s also trying to interfere with their business by suggesting fans boycott the games until they in essence get back on the plantation and just “do their jobs.” And while they are at it doing their jobs, could they bang a few more heads for our viewing pleasure, he humbly asks.

I love LeBron James’ response to Trump’s “withdrawing” of his invite to the World Champion Warriors to visit the White House, something which it was becoming publicly apparent most or all of the team had no interest in doing in the first place. After calling Trump a bum, he reminded us that it used to be a great honor for championship teams to visit the President, “until Trump showed up.” Couldn’t have put it any more precisely.
On the other hand, Trump is getting just what he wants: A distraction from all his problems; a wedge being driven between black and white, and red and blue. We dishonor our flag, anthem, constitution, country if we don’t oppose this bum-of-a-President and do everything to keep all of these things safe and intact until he is gone from our lives. Taking a knee should now become a national symbol of opposition to the authoritarian attempt to undermine our democracy.

My father, Francis X. Greenberg, a WWII veteran who fought across Europe all the way to Berlin, would have been proud to see the nation taking a knee in protest and in support of us being a better nation, both home and abroad. Just as he came to oppose the Vietnam war when it became apparent it was a dishonest disaster. My father had no middle name, but after reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X he gave himself one. This is not a black v white issue as Trump would like it to be.

Don’t let this President hide behind the cloak of patriotism to disguise his bad intent. As was profoundly stated by Samuel Johnson: Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

That was then. This is now.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Sanctimonious City, a resident of Barron Park,
on Sep 26, 2017 at 11:11 pm

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

I am sure lots of people have issues with America but they still respect the flag and anthem. To disrespect them is cowardly and offensive to those who have fought to build our country and defend it.

Choosing Kaepernick as a social justice champion is a poor choice for the following reasons:

1. He has no street credibility. As a half white person, raised by a white family, in a pampered elite athletic system earning millions of dollars with celebrity status, what does he know about real discrimination and oppression? His undisciplined mind was poisoned by his radical Islamic girlfriend (check for yourself) and if you are looking for a true hero there are many poor kids who worked their way out of the hood with scholarships or the GI Bill. Please pick one of those if you insist.

2. His narrative is a lie. Nobody said "hands up don't shoot" and research does not support the claim that police shoot and kill African Americans disproportionately. In fact, statistics show the opposite especially when factored as a proportion of felony crime offenders. Just because there have been some high visibility cases of bad cops does not mean it is a trend or a majority. Similar situations against whites occur more often but they don't get the airplay. The media has gone out of its way to distort perspectives.

3. He has poor logic and no cohesive message. What exactly is he protesting and what is he asking for to solve it? Is America just hopelessly evil and should be demolished or does he have specific problem with the criminal justice system worth discussing? Should the rules of engagement for lethal force be changed? Not a peep except strings of incoherent platitudes. Hardly a sound basis for blaming the entire country.

4. He chose the wrong platform. Bringing politics into the game and blaming everybody for the sins of a few was a mistake. There are news conferences after every game filled with reporters. If he, his teammates, the coaches or owners had anything useful to say they could easily do it. They could also funnel some of their millions into very helpful programs for both improving law enforcement and protecting at risk youth in high crime areas. Again, not a peep. It is much easier to hold hands, kneel and tweet ill will towards Trump.

It is sad to see so many get suckered into traitorous behavior by group think, white guilt and misguided emotionalism. The NFL is a sick enterprise. It hypocritically will not allow statements regarding CTE, Domestic violence, 9/11 or even cancer but jumps on the bandwagon of hating the country that created their wealth and privilege.

Boycott the NFL. They don't have to stand and we don't have to watch.

Posted by fellow American, a resident of Barron Park,
on Sep 27, 2017 at 11:30 am

Mr. Greenberg,

This was an outstanding essay, thoughtful, well considered, and honest. I went through a similar process as you, objecting at first to Kap's timing and choice of venue, but in time I came around to the fact that 1) the crisis was even worse and more urgent than anyone in insulated suburban American could conceive, 2) Kap's choice to kneel was a solemn and respectful way to express himself (in a society where nearly any form of protest by African Americans is viewed as hostile or threatening), and 3) for a professional athlete, there could be no better or more courageous place to send this message than during a televised sporting event.

The president's deeply disgraceful comments (after effectively championing the first amendment rights of odious neo-Nazis in Charlottesville) have only served to validate Kaepernick's protest, and to imbue it with more gravity.

Posted by Max Greenberg, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 27, 2017 at 11:48 am

There you have it - 2 different views, one by Sanctimonious City and the other by Fellow American. Obviously, I agree more with the Fellow American's opinion but I would never censor or edit Sanctimonious City's comment. I do think that SC's contention that taking a knee during the anthem is disrespectful to the anthem and the flag is ill-considered, but it's something new that the majority of Americans have not seen before and thus has a real shock value. In fact I see it as a call to hold us all to a higher standard and going beyond just reciting and saluting. As for running down Kap because he's "half white, raised by a white family, works in an elite system" etc. and can't possibly know anything about discrimination: he risked his livelihood and reputation by going out on a limb and starting the protest movement. He could have just stayed in his lane, but he didn't. He saw an opportunity where he could start something that could improve people's lives, and he's already paying the price by being black-balled by the league.

Posted by john_alderman, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Sep 27, 2017 at 12:34 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

Sad to hear your dad culturally misappropriated the 'X'

Posted by Max Greenberg, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 27, 2017 at 3:44 pm

john_alderman: Back in the day it was known as rendering respect.

Posted by Scotty, a resident of Green Acres,
on Sep 27, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Max-- I usually bypass your blog. Now I know why. Your essay exposes your own personal prejudices and biases toward our President and our great country. You should be ashamed. Believe me, your father would be ashamed of you on this point as well.

Posted by Max Greenberg, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 27, 2017 at 7:12 pm

Scotty: Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm not offended if you bypass my blog. But I will say that Francis X would not be ashamed of me on this point. He would just be waiting to see how long it's going to take for people to start discussing the issues being raised by the protests and come up with some honest and lasting solutions. Anyone who pours fire on the flames as President Trump is doing is not honoring the flag, the anthem, the country and the people. Our great country does not have to be "Made Great Again." It needs to start acting great again.

Posted by Scotty, a resident of Green Acres,
on Sep 27, 2017 at 7:17 pm

Max-- in the words of George Constanza..."Its not a lie if you believe it."

Posted by Max Greenberg, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 27, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Scotty: George Constanza's a TV character. This stuff is real. But I appreciate you trying to keep it light. Humor is a good antidote.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Oct 1, 2017 at 11:40 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Thanks Max.

The irony of Scotty's comment is that it is Trump who has made "it's not a lie if I believe it" through his contentions that Obama was born in Kenya, his inaugural crowd was the largest in history, there were good people in march in Charlotsville chanting anti Jewish and other hate statements, that a Mexican judge could not be fair to him because he (the judge) was Mexican, his outrageous statements about the Muslim dad and his wife, and on and on.

If we cannot distinguish between talking a knee (peacefully) or locking arms with teammates and club owners to protest racial injustice and the violence in word and deed at Charlotsville, we abandon the values that our soldiers like your dad fought for and the real meaning of a flag that is supposed to stand for freedom and equality.

Posted by Sanctimonious City, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 1, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Yes, let's discuss irony because the biggest examples have apparently escaped some people.

First of all, Malcolm X was assassinated not by the police or white establishment but by black men in a suspected Nation of Islam turf war conspiracy.

Now, just as then, the problem is not the system but rather organized crime, substance abuse and the breakdown of the nuclear family. It's not rocket science but social science.

The next irony is that despite the latest DoJ and Harvard statistics that blacks are not disproportionatley shot when interacting with the police they are still being falsely blamed with a fake narrative.

Even radicalized AG's in the Obama, NYC and Baltimore Democratic administrations failed to find any patterns of abuse despite trying every illegal tactic they could think of to predjudice the cases.

Another paradox is why the athletes would would not rightfully blame the local police or law enforcement but instead blanketly disrespect an entire nation.

Surely, in their propaganda brainwashed minds not every police officer, soldier or citizen is currupt and culpable. Yet, they pick on mass symbols of freedom to fight oppression.

Perhaps if they had ever given a life, saved a life or protected one in the service of our great country then they would understand the completely misguided gesture of disrespecting the flag and anthem.

The NBA gets it but not the CTE denying, domestic abuse enabling NFL.

For those who don't, it is a simple protocal. We honor our faith or those who have departed by kneeling. We stand and salute our flag.

Posted by Max Greenberg, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 1, 2017 at 5:36 pm

I could rebut each of Sanctimonius' points but I'll leave that for others. But I will address point number one about the murder of Malcolm X. Yes, he appears to have been murdered by a rival group, but that was with the total blessing of the NYC Police Dept who were all too happy to see blacks killing one of their own leaders. Sanctimonius, your fearless leader has trashed all protocol of decency in a very short time in office, so I would be cautious about being the decider of what is proper protocol and what ain't.

Posted by Sanctimonious City, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 1, 2017 at 8:03 pm

Not only are the facts mixed up by the leg bending and arm locking protesters but so are the dates.

If you recall, Kaepernick first knelt long before Trump was elected during the preseason in August 2016. He even criticized Hillary's corruption scandals as well as a list of various oppression against people of color generalities.

So apparently the kneeling fad has now been usurped as a personal protest against Trump's diction. How quickly the the feigned concern about police violence has given way to the typical mishmash of liberal talking points.

For those legitimately concerned about police brutality, get involved in community policing and oversight programs. Palo Alto has some excellent ones including a citizens police academy.

For the anarchists and Democratic dead enders, there is another protocol that may be helpful.

Respect the rank and not the person.

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