In his lead National section story for Wednesday’s New York Times, race-issues reporter John Eligon took on the spate of National Football League players protesting the National Anthem, at the apparent instigation of President Trump.
But far from applying a balanced take on a movement embraced by the racial and social justice left, Eligon went further to the left to attack the protests as being watered down by whites, even becoming the latest victim of capitalism: “Protests Start a Dialogue, But About What, Exactly? -- Concern That Focus Is Moving Away From Racism.”
While a debate over professional football players kneeling during the national anthem consumed much of the country over the weekend, a scene was playing out around St. Louis that drew far less notice. There, demonstrators protested the acquittal of a white former police officer in the fatal 2011 shooting of a black man, marching inside a mall and through the streets in daily protests over the case for more than a week.
The marchers in St. Louis also vandalized public buildings, which the Times indeed hardly mentioned.
Around the country, racial justice activists are concerned that the essential issues they have spent years trying to highlight -- police brutality and systemic racism -- could get lost in the growing national dialogue emerging from football stadiums.
When Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, first made headlines last year by sitting during the national anthem, he made his motive clear: He was protesting racial injustice in America, especially the police killings of black people, an issue that began drawing increased national attention after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. in 2014.
But now, with President Trump criticizing the N.F.L. and its kneeling players, leading many players, owners and league officials to band together, motivations have become murky, racial justice advocates and protesters say. Are they fighting for free speech or against police brutality? Is the anti-racism message of kneeling being co-opted by a league and owners more concerned about their bottom line than black lives?....
Ms. Ailith and other activists fear that the latest N.F.L. debate could cause the focus of the activism started by Mr. Kaepernick to stray from its original intent.
But Ms. Ailith said the protests should not focus on the president, but on achieving racial justice in areas like policing, education, health care and the economy. Otherwise, she said, the efforts would amount to little more than symbolism.
“This becomes something that white people who think they aren’t white supremacists do all the time,” she said. “They like to hop on board a particular cause that allows them to dissociate themselves from racist American history.”
It was up to social justice leaders to help focus the N.F.L.-centered activism, said Michael Skolnik, an entrepreneur and activist.
Eligon went full-on socialist-sympathizing here:
For Elle Hearns, an activist who has done organizing for Black Lives Matter, there is a contradiction in the N.F.L. being used as a vehicle for protest. It is an organization rooted in capitalism, a system that she said hurts and marginalizes black people. Several owners have contributed money to Mr. Trump, some have discouraged players from protesting during the national anthem and none has hired Mr. Kaepernick, who is now a free agent....
Yet the left-wing world view the Times has pushed the last few days, of a league of white conservative owners discouraging protest from players, suffers from bias by omission. After all, the National Football League itself discouraged players from making political statements in favor of cops or the victims of 9-11, without any outcry from the left or its supporters at the New York Times.
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