08 September 2018

Kaepernick, Nike, Police, and a Protest of a Protest of a Protest

I have this thing about institutions. When they use people, they're oppressive. When people use them, they're enabling.  Free people get to use their institutions - from church and state to bank and corporation - rather than be used by them. In oppressive communities, people are tools of their institutions; in free societies, institutions are the tools of people.

I say all that to opine about Kaepernick, Nike, and the The National Association of Police Organizations.

In response to Nike's new ad featuring Kaepernick, the National Association of Police Organizations has protested Nike's campaign and any NFL player who takes a knee during the national anthem. They argue that Kaepernick's protest suggest that the police are systematically racist and so they are protesting his protest.

I'm protesting their protest of his protest.

A police organization ought to focus on the work of making police better, in the same way that NFL teams should focus on making their teams better. Period. That is the purpose of the organization and that should be their focus.

Meanwhile, we live in a country with a first amendment. I know that some of you will say that an employer has the right to dictate what its employees - whether police or football players - should do. I think you're wrong.

If all of the football players want to protest, let them. If only two do, let them. If all of the police officers want to protest that protest, let them. If only two do, let them. Be clear that they are exercising these first amendment rights as individuals though. At the moment of protesting police brutality or protesting people who protest in front of the flag, the people protesting are doing this as citizens, not football players or police officers. No matter what percentage of them do it, they do it as individuals, not as that institution. At that moment they are not a 49er or a police officer. They are Americans.

First amendment rights are not subject to democratic vote or group norms. You have the right to believe whatever religion you want, express whatever opinion you have, assemble freely with whoever you want. The institutions you're a part of don't have the right to dictate any of that - or co-opt your first amendment rights to express those on your behalf.

That concludes my protest of a protest of a protest.

What a great country.

No comments: