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Tuesday, September 26, 2017
To: Friends & Supporters
From: Gary L. Bauer

The Controversy Continues

The NFL’s national anthem controversy continued last night.  Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the entire team all took a knee just before the national anthem.  They were roundly booed by the fans in the stadium.

Then they immediately stood when the anthem played.  A huge American flag was unfurled covering the field.  The crowd roared its approval.

The media claimed that Jones, a Trump supporter, defied Trump.  No he didn’t.  Jones and his team stood during the anthem — and that’s the point.

President Trump tweeted, “While Dallas dropped to its knees as a team, they all stood up for our National Anthem. Big progress being made — we all love our country!”

It’s worth mentioning that last Sunday was national Gold Star Mother’s Day.  These spoiled football millionaires could not have chosen a worse time to demonstrate their disrespect for our country and those who have sacrificed for it.  Not surprisingly, the VFW and the American Legion both expressed their outrage with the NFL.

I’m sure a lot of Americans feel like this controversy is getting tedious.  I disagree.  As several people have observed, the national anthem is one of the few remaining civic rituals that helps to unite us as Americans.  Sadly, these kinds of civic rituals have been under attack by the cultural left for decades.

One of these rituals used to be the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools.  In many school districts, it is largely ignored today.  The student who refuses to stand is treated like a hero.

The left’s assault has gotten so aggressive that even the idea of sovereignty and a nation with defined borders is labeled “racism.”  So these millionaire players disrespecting our anthem may be tedious to some, but it is important that this battle be fought.  Trump wasn’t the one who started it.  He merely gave voice to what millions of Americans are feeling.

I have had long-time friends here in Washington suggest that the president was wrong to engage this fight because it divides people.  They have it backwards.  It is the protests that are dividing people.

The NFL’s Hypocrisy

One thing getting lost in much of the coverage is the NFL’s history of hypocrisy.  The National Football League has rules.  A lot of rules, many specifically governing player conduct.

It was announced yesterday that the NFL won’t fine players or teams who skipped the national anthem during the weekend’s growing protests.

Why was it necessary to make that announcement?  Because one of the NFL’s rules clearly states that during the anthem players are to be on the sidelines and “should stand at attention.”

The NFL has also not hesitated to shut down speech it opposes.  For example, when Jake Plummer wanted to honor his friend American hero Pat Tillman, the NFL said, “No.”

When the Dallas Cowboys wanted to honor five slain Dallas police officers, the NFL said “No.”  When Avery Williamson wanted to commemorate the 9/11 attacks, the NFL said “No.”

When Arizona and Georgia tried to defend religious liberty, the NFL said “No.” When Texas tried to keep men out of women’s bathrooms, the NFL said “No.”

Clearly, the NFL under Commissioner Goodell is an active combatant and ally of the left in the culture war against the values of millions of its most loyal fans.  It has no problem bending its own rules to accommodate the left’s ideology.

Fans Respond

Social media has lit up the past few days with frustrated football fans burning NFL merchandise.  One former Steelers fan posted a video in which he said, “My great uncle’s bones are lying in the bottom of Pearl Harbor.”  He then burned his Steelers memorabilia.

Erich Nikischer has worked at New Era Field, home to the Buffalo Bills, for nearly 30 years.  After several Bills players took a knee Sunday, Nikischer said, “I took off my shirt, threw my Bills hat on the ground, walked out.”

All of this brought back some memories.  As a small boy, I stood with my father during the playing of the national anthem at a county fair.  Two ingrates behind us were talking loudly during the music and my father asked them to show some respect.  They ignored him.

That’s when Dad, Spike Bauer, a former Marine who fought in the Pacific during World War II, turned around and ended their conversation.  In short order one of them was seeing stars, if not Stars and Stripes!

Of course, I am not advocating violence.  If my father were alive today, people would say he had an “anger management issue.”  But that incident happened not long after our country had lost more than 400,000 men in combat defending the world from fascism and tyranny.

My point is simply that patriotism, the love of one’s country, is a natural impulse.  What is unnatural is our cultural elites celebrating the NFL’s disrespect for our nation.

A Reminder

I think it is important to remember how all of this got started.  Colin Kaepernick thought he was being really cute.  He showed up for practice wearing socks with police officers portrayed as pigs.  He followed that up by wearing a t-shirt featuring Fidel Castro, a strange choice to promote social justice.

The party line today is that players taking knee are not disrespecting America or the flag.  They are just trying to make a point about social justice.  Really?  Where is the NFL’s concern for the First Amendment rights of florists and bakers?

But that’s really not what this is all about.  Here is Kaepernick’s explanation for his protests:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. . .  There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

So, yes, this was and is all about protesting the flag, the country and the police.

Kaepernick’s belief that the men and women of the Thin Blue Line are racists is not supported by the facts.

The police go to work every day not worried about a tackle, an interception or a fumbled ball.  They go to work every day hoping they will get to go home at the end of the day alive.

We were reminded of this sad reality again last night.  A policewoman in Yonkers, New York, was answering a call about a suspicious vehicle when she was ambushed and shot in the face.  Thankfully, she is expected to survive.

The average professional football player will make more in one game — and I emphasize “game” — than this grievously injured policewoman will make all year.

I hope the lights are burning late at NFL headquarters because this issue isn’t going away.  So I will give them another free idea, courtesy of the legendary Lou Holtz.

On Fox & Friends this morning, Holtz said he would tell players that they are free to support any cause they want — off the field.  But their politics and causes do not belong on the field.

The NFL is about football.  It’s a game that many Americans see as respite from the din of life.  They don’t want left-wing politics rammed down their throats by athletes paid $125,000 a game.



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