Shut Up, You Talk Too Much

Over the past few months there has been an increasing trend for athletes to protest what they view as police brutality in various cities to protest during the singing of the National Anthem as some sort of political statement.  I detest this trend.  While not unaware of my nation’s flawed history, I consider myself to be a generally patriotic America who wishes that God may mend our every flaw rather than seeking to turn every disagreement I have with some aspect of American culture into a hatred of America itself as a whole.  There are people whose careers as athletes have been harmed by their politicizing, which I have mixed feelings about, but the fact that this political statement has been inevitably politicized [1] has led to inevitable pushback from the president of the United States, whose opposition to these protests has placed the NFL and many people in an awkward position, where many feel compelled to oppose the president out of principle because of their political hostility to him, while others seek in vain to find mediating positions between different groups of people viewing the singing of the national anthem as a suitable occasion for bully pulpits.

In general, I dislike seeing celebrities engage in political discourse.  For one, most of the time they are ill-informed or misinformed and their political views are hostile to my own.  When I watch sports, or when I listen to music or enjoy movies, I have no particular interest in the political worldviews of the actors or athletes or musicians involved.  In fact, my knowledge of their political beliefs often lowers my enjoyment because it creates an atmosphere of dissonance between the joy I want to have in their art and the distaste I have in their worldviews.  The less I know about their decadent and immoral personal lives, or about their politics, the better.  But rather than focus on what unites people in enjoyment of good music, acting, athleticism and so on, many cultural figures and celebrities, including athletes, feel it necessary to burn their political capital in order to make statements that merely give me one more reason to dislike people who I have plenty of reasons to dislike or feel negatively to on other grounds.  This does not mean I will necessarily boycott them, although in general my response to the greater politicizing of our society is to withdraw support from those who promote politics I happen to dislike.  There is no reason for me to spend any money of mine supporting those people or those business that engage in political discourse I dislike, and it appears that a great many people feel the same way that I do.

No doubt many of the owners of the NFL and many people at large feel that our president talks too much as well.  The fact that many owners and coaches of the league have expressed solidarity with their players despite their own ambivalence to such protests suggests that they feel it necessary to curry favor with someone.  There is no doubt that this is not a fight that many people wish to be involved in at all, but there is a natural human tendency, a tendency I share, to push back at anyone who pushes at us.  Yet while I would not normally consider our president to be among the strategic geniuses of our age, there is method in this case to his tendency to use his Twitter feed as a bully pulpit.  Our president, and those who most greatly support our president, gain a great deal of their political fervor from a feeling of being embattled.  The scope of hostility to godly ways and any sort of civility in our culture is at such an extent that anyone who feels opposed to the Progressives of the left can gain a great deal of political fervor in response by the ubiquity of that leftist protesting.  If one knows that one will never stand side by side with antifa terrorists and others of that ilk, and if people will not simply engage in peaceful opposition to what they dislike, then those who are inclined to be neutral will be pushed into the opposite camp in general simply so that they do not have to feel as if they stand alone.

One of the more striking comments made was by a coach of somewhat limited competence in the game as well as somewhat limited understanding of the state of constitutional rights in contemporary corporate culture.  This coach told our president to read the constitution in response to a call to fire those whose political discourse is displeasing.  Unfortunately, as our society has demonstrated over the past few years, businesses and other institutions routinely force employees who speak freely in ways their employers or sponsors oppose to face negative repercussions as a result of that speech.  There is no freedom of speech without repercussions in our society at present.  There is a question as to whether there should be such freedom, but such freedom does not exist.  The NFL, if it wanted to, could fire or fine any player who refused to honor the flag and sing (or at least lipsync) along to the national anthem.  It could treat political protests as it does domestic violence or substance abuse or any other unpleasant and unacceptable behavior.  Of course, if it does so, it too will face negative repercussions from those who support such protests.  In its current state, it is alienating those who find such protests distasteful and unacceptable.  The politicization of our society is rapidly eating away at any middle ground or civility that exists between people of opposing worldviews, and the result is that every institution seemingly finds itself forced to make a choice as to whose rights and whose speech it wishes to protect.

Just as I do not particularly enjoy seeing the political speech made by celebrities of one kind or another because I dislike it and it causes me to enjoy their work in general less, I imagine people might feel the same way about me.  The risk of producing many words is that people will not like those words and that negative feelings towards what someone writes or says tends to make people feel more negatively about someone in general.  We may like someone but find their viewpoints and perspectives to be unpleasant or disagreeable.  In an age where seemingly everything becomes the cause of some kind of controversy, the fact that someone makes their opinions known about anything provides a situation where we are likely to offend someone by the positions that we hold.  As someone who greatly enjoys civility in personal discourse but tends to be a remarkably critical and analytical writer and somewhat of a polemicist, I am certain that there are many people who would wish that I would simply shut up as well.  If I find the political discourse of others increasingly tiresome, no doubt others feel the same way about me.  The loss of good feelings does not spare anyone who tells us what we do not want to hear.  How can we hear and accept rebuke in such a world where we do not accept would-be authorities that do not agree with us and view things the same way we do?

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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7 Responses to Shut Up, You Talk Too Much

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