We’re living in a prison of two ideas when it comes to race in America. There’s no room for nuance or compromise. Your two choices are either acknowledge racist cops are targeting black people in large numbers and systemic racism is prevalent, or risk being labeled part of the problem and a racist yourself.
We saw this with Drew Brees. The Saints quarterback said he disagreed with players kneeling during the national anthem. Brees never disputed the racist-cops-targeting-blacks narrative. He simply argued against protesting during the national anthem. And yet Brees was accused of keeping black people down and being part of the problem.
Teammate Cam Jordan, among others, demanded Brees abandon his views on the national anthem protest and align them with his own.
“He’s been the leader and a guy I can rely on the field,” Jordan said of Brees. “Well, off the field (Brees) has to align. I can’t allow people to tippy-toe on the line of this issue.”
Brees complied with Jordan’s and others' demands and has since apologized.
But even with alignment and silence and Brees’ breaking the NFL record for most apologies, it still isn’t enough for Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Malik Jackson. Jackson says he doesn’t believe Brees changed his mind and only apologized out of necessity.
"I think he's only apologizing because people came for him and people are disagreeing with him," Jackson said, "and he understands that his base in Louisiana, there’s a lot of black people."
Jackson also said he’s circled the date on the Eagles’ schedule the week the defensive lineman will face Brees.
“Hopefully, I don’t get too wild with it, but I don’t understand how you could say that when you have people blocking for you who are black, catching balls from you who are black and people that are running the ball for you who are black," Jackson said.
Brees’ wife, Brittany, wrote her own apology on social media after her family received death threats. She said they’ve taught their children to love, be unbiased, and to have no prejudice. But, “somehow as white Americans, we feel like that checks the box of doing the right thing. Not until this week did Drew and I realize that this is the problem,” she wrote.
Brittany Brees said teaching her kids about racism is not enough. She said it also requires “actively looking for racial prejudice.”
What would have happened if Brees hadn’t changed his convictions over national anthem protests? Would he have suffered the same fate as others in the cancel-culture in which we now live?
Los Angeles Galaxy player Aleksandar Katai was fired last week after his wife posted on Instagram a picture of a looter carrying away a pair of Nike shoes, captioning, “Black Nikes matter.”
Longtime Sacramento Kings TV announcer Grant Napear lost his job after posting, “All lives matter. Every single one.”
The cancel-culture has even taken casualties from members of the media. The long-time editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer resigned after running a headline, “Buildings Matter, Too,” in response to the burning down of businesses by vandals and looters during protests.
New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet resigned after a staff uproar over the running of a column by Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, of Arkansas. The senator called for use of the military to restore order after riots and looting caused so much destruction in cities across America.
Typically, when you live in a prison of two ideas, truth is the casualty. It is reasonable to believe the targeting of black people by racist cops is exaggerated and not as prevalent as the media and Democrats say. Especially when you look at the data on the subject, as the conservative Manhattan Institute did on police shootings. Doing so does not make one a racist or part of the problem.
It’s also reasonable to empathize with the deeply embedded fears some African Americans hold when dealing with police. Last week, The Times-Picayune| The Advocate columnist Will Sutton eloquently wrote from the heart on such fears. It’s a must-read for those like me who are skeptical of the narrative dominating our culture.