I Don’t Know What We’re Protesting

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Mending Wall, Robert Frost

I sit at the keyboard this morning, thinking about the NFL protests that occur during the National Anthem, knowing that I’m not knowledgeable enough to write anything meaningful on the subject. Nothing more meaningful than words of Robert Frost, for certain. Mending Wall addresses a lot of society’s ills.

I actually like a little civil disobedience. College students blocking the entrance to buildings. Sit-ins. Marches. I like them. Shows a little life. A little spirit. I like a peaceful refusal to participate in the norm as a form of protest to show disagreement with some law or practice. Emphasis on peaceful. Civil disobedience should lead to civil discourse, in an ideal situation, to gain understanding of the various views. The stronger the disobedience, however, the greater the reluctance to engage in discourse. Alas, the NFL protest has created more confusion than it has illuminated an issue.

The NFL protest is not about the flag, or veterans, or really even the country. The timing of the protest makes that an easy, but non-existent, correlation. To be clear, had I been advising the protest, I would have encouraged the participants to avoid protesting during the National Anthem. The message of the protest is being lost in the manner of the protest, and that’s unfortunate. Additionally, no one is talking about what the protest is about. The message simply isn’t getting out to the masses, and that leaves the masses to come up with their own beliefs of why the protest is occurring – or to just accept whatever belief the President develops. Now we’ve got Jerry Jones linking arms with his team and taking a knee, and Aaron Rodgers talking about linking arms for “love and unity.”


Rodgers, in an interview earlier this week, said that the Packers had a good meeting on the subject – the specifics of which he wasn’t going to discuss because it was a closed-door team meeting. And that’s the problem. No one is actually talking, and the message of the protest is being lost in the manner of the protest.

Disobedience has to lead to discourse.

Have a good weekend.