- - Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Dr. Johnson observed that “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.” Perhaps, but scoundrels have moved on. Crying “racism” when there is no racism is the work of modern scoundrels, and most of them are on the left.

Unless signed this week, Colin Kaepernick will not suit up when the 2017 NFL season begins next week. The NAACP, among others, insist that only racism explains why none of the league’s 32 teams has offered Mr. Kaepernick a contract.

Mr. Kaepernick and his fans can’t believe that his insistence on staying on a knee when everyone else stands for the playing of the national anthem has anything to do with it. He says he does it to protest racism, police brutality and other sins. But the marketers of professional football, which is entertainment after all, see Mr. Kaepernick as a royal pain in an unmentionable place, a source of irritation for fans black and white, and who needs that?

There’s nothing more American than peaceful protest of injustice, of shedding light on bigotry and abuse. But there’s a time and place for protest, and disrupting the national anthem at a sporting event isn’t one of them. If he feels strongly about racial injustice there’s no shortage of appropriate places to make that protest.

The distinction is lost on Mr. Kaepernick, who wore a T-shirt with photographs of Fidel Castro on it after making his protest on a knee last year. The NAACP has demanded a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss whether the quarterback has been blackballed because of his race. (Mr. Kaepernick is biracial, as it happens, the son of a white mother and a black father, who gave him up for adoption.)

If the 32 teams have a policy of eliminating black players just for being black, they have an ineffective way of enforcing it. Seventy percent of the players in the league, on 53-player rosters, are black. Five teams had black quarterbacks last season. But the racial arsonists trying to set the culture on fire can’t be confused by the facts.

Gerald Griggs of the NAACP bemoaned the fact that Mr. Kaepernick will be sidelined this season, barring an unlikely 11th-hour contract offer. “This is about talent,” he says. “This is about the NFL needing to answer the question why the 17th-best quarterback in the league is out of a job.” But it’s difficult to make the case that he is being discriminated against when the San Francisco 49ers once signed Mr. Kaepernick to a six-year, $126 million contract. If he’s broke and out of work now it must be his own fault.

Dak Prescott, the black quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, is not a member of the tiny handful of players who have joined Mr. Kaepernick’s protest. “It’s just important for me to go out there, hand over my heart, represent our country and just be thankful, and not take anything I’ve been given and my freedom for granted,” he says.

We couldn’t have said it better, but Mr. Kaepernick’s mother by adoption said it well, too. In a tweet the day after her son first made his protest, Heidi Russo wrote: “There’s ways to make change w/o disrespecting & bringing shame to the very country & family who afforded you so many blessings.” Mr. Kaepernick should listen to his mother.

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