Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Thursday leveled a double-barreled attack on Christian Americans and conservative media in a caustic defense of Colin Kaepernick's recent anti-Thanksgiving Day activities. The former NBA great and Guardian writer shamed them by portraying Kaepernick as "the black Grinch for those who dream of a white America."
The defense of Kaepernick centered on the former football player's Thanksgiving Day tweet about his morning at the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Ceremony on the 50 year anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz. Kaepernick's tweet read: "The US government has stolen over 1.5 billion acres of land from Indigenous people. Thank you to my Indigenous family, I’m with you today and always."
Abdul-Jabbar is incensed with the way the "white-wing media" reported on Kaepernick's tweet. He included "Breitbart, the Washington Times, Fox News and the rest of the usual suspects" who quickly reported the contents of this "provocative tweet."
"The tactics used to discredit the former quarterback are how conservative America has always treated black athletes who speak out," Abdul-Jabbar charged. The conservative media's treatment of the Alcatraz event was the equivalent of declaring the apocalypse was looming.
Abdul-Jabbar ridiculed a Fox News story for editorializing that “Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick had an odd way of celebrating Thanksgiving, attending an event that appeared to serve as a rebuke to the holiday and the United States.” Fox News was biasing the reader and wasn't alone in doing so, Abdul-Jabbar writes.:
"Say it ain’t so, Fox! The conservative political site the Blaze’s headline also wanted to make sure the readers don’t have to burden themselves with thinking: “Colin Kaepernick bashes America on Thanksgiving, participates in ‘Unthanksgiving Day’ celebration.”
Hey, Kaepernick deserves a pass because, "Technically, pointing out a fact isn’t 'bashing,'" Abdul-Jabbar announces before delivering more attacks:
"America’s forefathers did indeed steal the land from the indigenous people, often over their dead bodies. Just as indigenous people stole land from other tribes. That’s just historical fact. Like pointing out to grandpa that his zipper is open. I’m not bashing him, just stating a truth. So, why the panicky attacks on Kaepernick? Clearly, there’s something much more insidious going on here: the sustained attempt to steal Kaepernick’s political voice by characterizing him as un-American. The Black Grinch who wants to steal White Christmas American values."
White America's bashing typically begins with character assassination, as Dr. Martin Luther King experienced when the FBI painted him as a communist, says Abdul-Jabbar. Kaepernick is just the latest victim of how "conservative America has always treated African American athletes who speak out, whether it’s Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, or any of the others. It’s the equivalent of sticking fingers in their ears while shouting, 'Nyah, nyah, nyah, I can’t hear you.'”
Conservatives are trying to preemptively silence black athletes, and young athletes "may be stifled by the example of Kaepernick left to twist in the wind of no-change."
It's to be expected that the frequent Trump critic Abdul-Jabbar would also include the president in this thrashing of white conservatives. "Efforts to silence the black community and all others who speak out for rights has only gotten worse under the Trump administration," the Guardian columnist alleges." It also extends, if you can believe this, to voter suppression of African Americans and college students.
For the past half-century people have ordered truth-tellers to shut up and punished them when they refuse. Abdul-Jabbar ends his slamfest by saying, "I’m sure their tactics have silenced some athletes. Not all. They can never silence all because the kind of grit it takes to become an athlete is the same kind it takes to place truth above self-interest. But they sure will keep on trying as long as they get paid to pander to those who wrap themselves in the pretty colors of the flag rather than the bold words of the Constitution."
Of course, criticizing Kaepernick's race baiting and anti-Americanism is constitutional. Free speech cuts both ways, Kareem.