Kyle Smith has, and not because of kneeling or national anthems. The league’s near-dead silence on DeSean Jackson’s grotesquely anti-Semitic tweet and half-baked apology stands in stark contrast to the avalanche of vitriol received by Drew Brees just a couple of weeks ago. For the sin of claiming that patriotism kept him from kneeling before games — but without criticism of those who do — the New Orleans Saints’ future Hall of Famer got buried in invective from players around the league, and from other sports leagues as well, Smith recalls:
So Drew Brees defended the American flag and all it stands for, said he didn’t agree with kneeling for the national anthem and correctly described this gesture of open disrespect as disrespect. “Is everything right with our country right now?” said the Saints’ future Hall of Famer. “No, it is not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity.”
So much anger followed that Brees felt forced to give groveling apology after groveling apology. One of his own teammates, Emmanuel Sanders, called him “ignorant.” LeBron James criticized Brees also.
Philadelphia Eagles star DeSean Jackson posted a (fake, but in-character) Adolf Hitler quotation that was nakedly anti-Semitic (white Jews will “will extort America, but their plan for world domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were.”) together with praise for the most notorious of American anti-Semites, Louis Farrakhan.
His apology amounted to, “Oops.”
Did players around the NFL or in the NBA step up to condemn anti-Semitism with the same passion that they condemned Brees’ statement? Not exactly. In fact, a couple of former players broke the silence by supporting Jackson’s anti-Semitic rant, complete with their own versions of idiocy (via Twitchy):
…is it still “anti-Semitic” when a Jew says it? pic.twitter.com/KyC4Xqy5f5
— Larry Johnson (@2LarryJohnson7) July 7, 2020
This is a hoax perpetrated, ironically, by white supremacists. Rosenthal was killed by Palestinian terrorists in 1976, and shortly afterward this manufactured quote emerged. As the Jerusalem Post notes, even some white supremacists rejected it at the time Walter White published his “interview” with Rosenthal or shortly afterward, and has never produced any evidence that Rosenthal met him.
Johnson made it clear he doesn’t care, too:
Don’t waste your retweet’s on me, I’m not apologizing.
— Larry Johnson (@2LarryJohnson7) July 8, 2020
Idiots and bigots rarely do, at least willingly.
Johnson isn’t the only professional athlete coming to Jackson’s defense. Here’s former NBA player Stephen Jackson assuring us that DeSean Jackson’s “is speaking the truth,” and just wants to “educate” us:
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson responds to Desean Jackson’s Hitler post by saying it’s “truth” pic.twitter.com/Web0y3bhoQ
— The Conspiracy Libel (@ConspiracyLibel) July 7, 2020
That wasn’t “truth” that DeSean Jackson was selling. It was literally a series of lies, and easily debunked lies at that. Jackson may have a point about the league’s response to racism, but if selling anti-Semitic slurs is “speaking the truth,” then why should the league care if its players don’t tackle other forms of hate more vigorously? Better yet, why should its fans?
This point is precisely why Kyle’s argument resonates. The kneeling issue was overblown by all sides, and social activism is every American’s right to pursue (within the law, of course). Criticism can be met with criticism, and that’s also part of the great value within free speech. The criticism isn’t the problem, or at least it’s not the real problem — it’s the reeking condescension and hypocrisy of these elite athletes and their leagues.
On one hand, they plan to roll out a season of lectures for its fans on racism and hate, and cast those who might have different points of view as quasi-racists or enemies. On the other hand, when another player engages in outright declarations of anti-Semitism — especially in regurgitating idiotic hoaxes and cheering on pseudo-Hitler — these same players are not only silent, they occasionally cheer it on. And the league itself, which has spent the last several years negotiating on just how much money they want to pour into the players’ social-justice causes, doesn’t even issue a peep about it. And let’s not forget about the NBA’s cowardly surrender to China on speaking truth to power, too.
“Anybody else feeling a loss of interest in the NFL as an institution? I know I am,” Smith concludes. So am I. When the league and its players want to address all forms of hate and intolerance, they can call me. As long as they’re giving a pass or actively cheering anti-Semitism, though, I have better uses of my time and money. See you in 2021 … maybe.