On Slate, Singer John Legend Compares NFL Players' Disrespect of Anthem to History's Great Protests

NFL protests have given the liberal media a newfound "appreciation" of patriotism and the Constitution. Media covering this movement suffer from selective amnesia about U.S. history, however. Slate's John Legend is a protest apologist and historical revisionist as well who strains credibility.

In his blog today, Legend argues "The NFL Protests are Patriotic." He writes, "The president of the United States loves to drape himself in the symbols of patriotism, but fails to respect the ideals at the core of our Constitution and national identity. Trump may love the flag, but he doesn’t love anything it’s supposed to stand for."

Legend then proceeds to launch into historical revisionism, if not downright fantasy. He attacks Trump by reciting some of the Democrats' favorite dishonest talking points:

He actively encouraged a hostile foreign power to infiltrate our electoral process. He wants to suppress millions of Americans’ right to vote because they didn’t vote for him. He routinely undermines freedom of religion with his rabid Islamophobia, attacks the free press with disturbing regularity, and is now attacking the rights of the people to peacefully protest.

Legend compares the current protests of NFL players with past protests that brought an end to the injustices of war, demands for equal rights and ending unfair practices used to marginalize people. "If we quell protest in the name of patriotism, we are not patriots. We are tyrants," asserts Legend, who rolls through a sundry list of Democrats who cured so many of our nation's ills.

The Slate progressive asks if there would have been a Civil Rights Act without the Birmingham protests when Bull Connor unleashed dogs and firehoses on Black children. Legend skips over the fact that Connor was a Democrat. Would the Act have passed without Republican support? No. Democrats Al Gore Sr. and Robert Byrd were among the 21 Democrats who voted against civil rights, but Legend gives credit for it anyway to President Kennedy and President Johnson.

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Legend mentions progressive President Wilson and the successful women's suffrage movement in the same breath, but Wilson opposed the women's vote.

The current protests by a minority of the Black players in the NFL "are not some arbitrary statement about a flag," Legend writes.

The NFL protests carry on in this tradition. They are a demand that we Americans make this country’s reality match its proud symbolism. They are an attempt to educate the public that criminal justice—mass incarceration, lengthy sentences, police brutality—is the civil rights issue of our time. Colin Kaepernick, Michael Bennett, and Marshawn Lynch are demanding that this country again take a breath, self-reflect, and recognize that we fail a large and important population in this country by investing in prison systems rather than education and housing, by using the criminal system as a first rather than last resort, and by failing to punish police officers who engage in illegal racial profiling and police abuse. They are insisting that we do better.

I don't recall Lynch saying any of this. 

The writer says the activism of NFL players is not nearing an end. He mentioned the Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins and retired receiver Anquan Boldin leading a coalition of 40 players in working with activists and legislators to change the country's bail and juvenile sentencing system. That's all fine; they're doing this on their own time, rather than sticking it in the faces of ticket-buying football fans at NFL games.

But Legend also boasted disingenuously about Colin Kaepernick's donations "to causes that work to better the lives of the most vulnerable." One of those organizations bettering the lives "of the most vulnerable" is an abortion organization denying its defenseless unborn victims the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'


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