Sunday, September 24, 2017

Kaepernick's Persistence and Pressure from Below Forces Owners to Act

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, Retired

We can see that Colin Kaepernick’s persistence is paying off. More players are joining him as are other groups including some cops. Today, September 24th, more actions are being taken with some teams not coming out of the locker room at all for the national anthem and in London England, Ravens and Jaguars players locked arms or kneeled in support of Kaepernick and protesting racism and police brutality. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan knelt arm-in-arm with his players.

This all comes two days after Trump called on team owners to “fire” players that participate in the protests calling them  "son of a bitch" players. National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell responded attacking Trump’s "divisive comments", revealing an an "unfortunate lack of respect" for the NFL and contributions players make to their communities.

And now Robert Kraft, another billionaire team owner worth $6.2 billion and so-called friend of Trump, has joined the fray. Kraft said he is, "deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President.” He goes on to say that,  “There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics.” These team owners as I pointed out last week are all billionaires and Roger Goodell made $34.1 million in the 2014 calender year according to NFL tax returns, and remember, for 50 years, the NFL was tax exempt as a “nonprofit trade group,”. 

So what’s happening here? 

It’s good this is happening but we have to not lose sight of why it is and who were dealing with here. Kraft says that nothing is more divisive than politics and no greater unifier than sports. So unity is important to these people is it? Well, politics is even more important to them, they just say it’s not important when they’re talking to us.  Kraft didn’t give Trump $1 million towards his inaugural for nothing; he wanted something in return and he’s not getting it. They thought they might be able control this moron, control what comes out of his mouth but it appears they can’t. Trump is becoming a liability for business and capitalism. For them, there is no friendship except money friendship.
You're costing us money Donald and I'm richer than you

Neither Kraft, nor any of them called for unity against police abuse when Rodney king was beaten or when Trayvon Martin and other innocent people were murdered. No keeping the players in the locker room then to support protests and the BLM movement. No encouraging players to support workers on strike or the teachers whose livelihoods have been savaged. They never encouraged sports figures to support low waged stadium workers. No, they call for unity when their interests are threatened, when their system is threatened which is what these protests can lead to.

They want to head it off because it can interfere with money making. That’s why the
former presidents, all smiling and laughing together, joined through Twitterland by the Predator in Chief Trump, basically called for unity after Hurricane Harvey at a televised football game. We are all one is the mantra. They didn’t put a face on those responsible for the disaster being worse that it should, the home builders the lobbyists that bribe the politicians to ensure no legislation or regulations are passed that interferes with profits. Bush lives in Texas, he knows intimately why the disaster was such a  disaster. He is part of the cause. We do not want unity with them.

They cannot blame the system, they can’t point to the killers, those responsible for the death and destruction because they defend the system, it is "their" system and no ruling class commits class suicide. They must convince us we are all in this together, they are afraid things could get out of hand.   Class solidarity changes things this is why the big guns of the bourgeois are beginning to turn. It is the movement and movements from below that are forcing these activities from the top.

The anger from Harvey and Irma is not yet done. The like of Kraft and his class are aware that in US society there is much anger, from Flint and other communities that have poison water. There is anger about the environment, the poverty in society, the health care crisis, homelessness, education, a savaging of wages, benefits and right on the job and sports events that a working or middle class family cannot afford to go to even though it is our taxes that pay for the arenas. The daily mass shootings, sometimes of entire families and the opioid addiction are all related to the crisis in US society, a crisis of capitalism.

Every day and waking hour filled with sports, not where we participate as part of human culture bus as spectators watching millionaire athletes play, wholly owned subsidiaries of corporations who our children are encouraged to emulate and see as heroes. We participate mostly through their media and live if we can afford it. It is a very profitable venture but more importantly keeps us out of politics, acts as a diversion from politics and discussions about our lives and society that might lead to real unity not with the 1% and the billionaire owners of sports teams but with teach other, workers whose labor creates the wealth in society.

They use racism and racial tension to keep people apart and undermine working class unity, it is the most prominent tool in their arsenal for that here in the US. They don’t want it to get out of hand if they can help it. However, they will resort to open race war if need be, but we have the numbers and the cause, that’s why fighting racism and all such socially constructed divisions, and building a united working class direct action movement is so important. We should not underestimate the cunning and violent nature of the US ruling class. We need only look at the condition and history of the native peoples as proof of that.

The disproportionate killing of black folks by cops in the streets is not new, it’s been ongoing, its simply been brought to the public eye due to cell phone cameras. These billionaires and politicians now crying crocodile tears about the right to protest and American values know all about it and have remained silent all along.

It is the refusal of the black population to remain silent and to protest not through ineffective candlelight vigils but through mass action that is putting pressure on. It is the numerous actions and movements springing up in the US around racism and the unleashing of the generalized anger that exists beneath the surface of US society that they’re worried about.

Let’s not be fooled, unity is a good thing but what is more important is with whom and about what. 

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