You’ve likely encountered the argument before: The NFL national anthem protests aren’t really about the flag or about the national anthem, nor are they about disrespect toward all law enforcement. They’re simply a stand against police brutality and the silence around it.
The argument’s surfaced again as pushback to anti-Nike sentiment in the wake of the athletic wear giant’s Colin Kaepernick ad campaign. But Ben Ferguson, a nationally syndicated conservative talk-show host and CNN political analyst, rejected it soundly in a Saturday appearance where he said the issues with Kaepernick — and anthem-kneeling — went far beyond that.
The segment on “New Day Saturday,” as these things usually do, pitted Ferguson against a liberal foil and a representative of CNN, which isn’t known for a) inveterate conservatism or b) simple fairness.
“People complain, you know, if somebody marches in the street — they complain if they rally,” anchor Christi Paul said, according to Newsbusters.
“This protest is not about the flag. Why is it that people cannot seem to separate the focus of this protest about police brutality and African-Americans and how they are treated with patriotism?”
In response, Ferguson noted that the protests had “morphed a lot since the first day of Colin Kaepernick kneeling.”
And, in terms of this being about police brutality and not police as a whole — as well as other issues — Ferguson shot that down.
“Remember, Colin Kaepernick was a guy that wore socks depicting all cops as pigs,” he said, referring to one of the now-former NFL quarterback’s more infamous antics.
“He has worn shirts supporting Fidel Castro, a dictator and tyrant who oppresses people all the time, as someone he, I guess, admires by wearing that T-shirt.”
Ferguson also pointed out that “the biggest day of protests in the NFL’s history was after Donald Trump called out the players.”
“So, you can’t say this is just about police brutality when the biggest day of protests was, in fact, protesting Donald Trump’s comments about NFL players.”
Ferguson is elucidating a rather uncomfortable truth about Kaepernick and the larger NFL protest movement: Despite the ambitions the media seems willing to ascribe to it without corresponding evidence, its primary aims are amorphous at best.
At worst, what’s going on is a lot more poisonous than the media is willing to admit.
“Colin Kaepernick is an individual who clearly cannot stand police in general,” Ferguson said. “You don’t wear these socks depicting all cops as pigs and expect that I’m going to sit here and back you up and/or defend you, and that’s the reason why so many people are upset over what Nike has done.
“Nike knew this was a controversy. They chose to dive straight into it. They chose (for this) to be a moment for them to say, ‘This is what we are going to do.’
“They have the right to do that,” Ferguson added. “But as a consumer, I have the right to say I’m not buying Nike anymore.”
Indeed you do — and you’re almost certainly not alone in exercising that right, either. Perhaps that’ll end up being Kaepernick’s true “legacy.”
After all, we’re told this is all about freedom of speech. What is freedom of speech if not freedom for Americans to spend their money on the products they choose to?
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