NFL, Part II

Outsider: “You can’t do that!”

NFL: “Why not?”

Outsider: “It’s offensive.”

NFL: “It’s Freedom of Speech.”

Outsider: “Freedom of Speech doesn’t cover that kind of offensiveness.”

NFL: “Not everyone finds it offensive.”

Outsider: “Some people do, though, and you have to respect them.”

NFL: “Whyever for?”

Outsider: “Because you don’t have the right to offend people.”

NFL: “But even some of the affected people don’t find it offensive.”

Outsider:  “But some do, so you’ve got to stop.

NFL: “But…But…Freedom of Speech”

Outsider: “Don’t care.  You can’t name a team the Redskins.”

Hah.  Bet you didn’t think that was where I was going.

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Free Speech = Genocide?

So there was this:

“Fuck your laws” she says (Yes, I’m going to assume her gender). “Your fucking freedom of speech is genocide, homeboy.”

Um, you may want to rethink that.

Freedom of Speech matters in this country.  People will not give it up lightly.  You think that by equating Freedom of Speech with genocide people will just shut up and leave your views unchallenged?  That’s not the way it works.

We will not be giving up Freedom of Speech.  So you might want to think about what would happen if you really do convince us that Freedom of Speech and genocide are the same thing, that murder, that genocide, is no worse than wearing a MAGA hat.

Do you really want to convince people of that?  Are you sure?  Do you really want to convince the majority of gun owners, the majority of military veterans, the majority of people that there is no moral difference between saying things with which you disagree and killing you?

Are.  You.  Sure?

Success in that will not convince people to give up their Freedom of Speech.  Just the opposite.  Convince people that their Freedom of Speech is morally equivalent to murder and you don’t make Free Speech anathema.

Instead you convince people as describe above–the ones trained in and capable of violence of a scale most of you cannot even imagine–that they might as well go to violence.

I want you to stop because I don’t want to see the end of that road.

And if you had a lick of sense, neither would you.

 

On this day: The Invasion of England

September 28, 1066, Duke William II of Normandy invades England and begins the Norman Conquest of England which, in essence provides the foundation for Great Britain as we know her today.

To understand these events we have to go back a bit farther.  In 911, “Charles the Simple”, “negotiating” with a group of Vikings and hoping to create a buffer against other Norse raiders, allowed that group of Vikings, led by one Rollo, allowed that group of Vikings to settle in a region adjacent to the English Channel.  These Vikings were called “Northmen”, shortened to “Normans” and the region called “Normandy.”

The Normans quickly assimilated, adopting Christianity and mostly adopted the local language (keeping some elements of their own).  They did not entirely give up their warlike ways and acquired some of the neighboring lands, incorporating them into Normandy.

In 1002 King Æthelred the Unready married Emma of Normandy, the sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy.  Their son, Edward the Confessor lived in Normandy in exile for many years before ascending the English Throne in 1042.  This, however, led to the Normans casting their eyes across the channel and becoming quite interested in the situation in England.

In England, Edward found himself in conflict with Godin, Earl of Wessex.  He may also have “encouraged” William, Duke of Normandy, Grandson of Richard II, in his own ambitions for the English Throne (wink wink nudge nudge).

When Edward died, still childless, there were a number of claimants to the throne.  The primary claimant was Harold Godwinson, the son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex.   Harold was elected King by the “Witangemot” a “meeting of wise men” an assembly of the ruling class and duly crowned.

Two powerful forces immediately rose to challenge that crowning.  One was Harald III of Norway, commonly known as Harald Haradrada–based on a supposed agreement between earlier Kings of Norway and England that if either died without issue the other would inherit both Kingdoms.  The other was William of Normandy who claimed that Edward the Confessor had promised him the throne.

Both Harald Haradrada and William of Normandy began assembling troops.

A spoiler of a sort arose in Harald Godwinson’s exiled brother Tostic, who began raiding England’s southern coast.  Driven back, Tostig retreated to Scotland to recruit fresh forces.

Harold Godwinson continued to patrol the south of England with levied troops but as the troops were levies and not full-time soldiers they needed to go back to their farms in time for harvest son on September 8, Harold dismissed them.

Of the two main rivals, Haradrada struck first.  In early September he invaded England.  Tostig joined his forces to Haradrada’s and together they defeated an English force raised by Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria.  They then moved on York and took it.

Harold Godwinson had to raise his army again and march North.  And on September 25, Harold Godwinson defeated Harold Haradrada, killing both the Norwegian king and Tostig at the battle of Stampford Bridge.

In the meantime, in Normandy, William was gathering forces.  Modern historians say probably about 7-8000 men.  Contemporary writers claim as much as 150,000.  In any case, they landed at Pevensey in Sussex on September 28.

Harold (easier to write now that there’s only one of them left), with his army tired and depleted by the hard fighting at Stamford Bridge, had to march south where he met William near the town of Hastings.

Whether through strategem or chance (I have seen arguments for both), William’s forces drew part of Harold’s out of position and was able to concentrate the larger part of their force on a smaller part of Harold’s, severely depleting the defenders of Harold’s forces.  Eventually, Harold fell.  Tradition, and one interpretation of the scene depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, says that Harold was struck in the eye with an arrow.  In any case, his forces, now leaderless, were routed.

And that was pretty much the end of Anglo-Saxon England.  There was some resistance over the next few years but in the end, William, now dubbed William the Conqueror, and his Normans had control of England until the ascension of Henry II, the first of the Plantagenet Kings in 1154.

Politics in Uniform

When I went through Basic Training one thing that was explained to us was that any kind of partisan political activity while in uniform was absolutely forbidden.  No taking opinion polls, no campaigning for candidates, or any other kind of overt political activity that implies, or appears to imply official sponsorship of one side or another of a political issue.

That includes not showing up at political rallies wearing a uniform unless one has official duties that require one to be present (like, say, the President’s Marine Corps guard detail).

That was 35 years ago.  The basic policy has not changed.

From the Army’s web site:

That’s not to imply, however, that military members and civilian employees can’t participate in politics. In fact, DOD has a longstanding policy of encouraging members to carry out the obligations of citizenship, officials said. DOD encourages its military and civilian members to register to vote and vote as they choose, they said. Both groups can sign nominating petitions for candidates and express their personal opinions about candidates and issues.

However, officials emphasized, they can do so only if they don’t act as, or aren’t perceived as, representatives of the armed forces in carrying out these activities.

Beyond that, the list of do’s and dont’s differs depending on whether the employee is a member of the armed forces, a career civil service employee, a political appointee or a member of the career Senior Executive Service, officials said.

Military members, for example, may attend political meetings or rallies only as spectators and not in uniform. They’re not permitted to make public political speeches, serve in any official capacity in partisan groups or participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions.

They also are barred from engaging in any political activities while in uniform.

Then there’s this asshat:

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Army Ranger, West Point Graduate, and now Infantry Officer.

While I may disagree with his twitter posts under the handle “Commie Bebop”, those, at least were done at one remove from being “in uniform”.  One might question whether a series of posts/tweets on the same topic might constitute “public political speeches” but as a First Amendment near-absolutist, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt there.  It’s not in uniform and doesn’t even give the appearance of implying any kind of official sanction.  His beliefs?  Well, I doubt they are compatible with honorably serving his commission but, again, I would be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he actually demonstrated through his actions that his beliefs are incompatible with honorable service.

But in uniform at a military (including military academy) event?  That’s a clear violation.  Indeed, that the very demonstration that his beliefs are incompatible with honorable service.  He needs to be court martialed and discharged with something other than honorable (I won’t hold out for a dishonorable–I want him gone and without the benefits of those who serve honorably more than I want sanctions beyond that.  I won’t even hold out for a prison sentence although one is applicable–let’s not make him more of a martyr for the anti-American Left to celebrate).

Of course the usual suspects will bleat about “First Amendment” and “Right of Conscience” (Hey, he’s not being asked to bake a cake).  Those who have served in the military know that Freedom of Speech is limited.  Try saying “Our commander is an utter moron, unfit to lead a marine to a whorehouse, let alone a company into battle” and see where that gets you. (You folk currently serving know that would be a bad idea, right?)

This crosses the line so this disgrace to the Uniform needs to go.  He can go with public panapoly or he can softly and silently vanish away, but he needs to be gone.

 

Blast from the Past: Before the Hyphens Came

I am not a fan of country music.  Nothing specific wrong with it, just not my cup of tea.  One thing I will give the genre, though, a number of artists have put out some very good patriotic songs.

So, some time back I went on a quest looking for some rock or metal groups doing patriotic stuff.  Some folk over in another forum pointed me at a group called Madison Rising.  My first introduction was their rock version of The Star Spangled Banner.  Now, I’ve had some people criticize it as just another case of people trying to “personalize” the national anthem but I take a different view which I illustrate with two points:

  1. It’s on my “main” playlist to come up in rotation whenever I’m listening to music.
  2. My daughter (just turned 10) asks to hear it from time to time.

If it gets people who otherwise wouldn’t to listen to the song and pay attention to it, that’s a win in my book.

But it’s another of their songs that I want to talk about today:  “Before the hyphens came.”

So here it is:

My 5 A.M. alarm goes off, I’m rolling out of bed
I turn the TV on, to wake up and clear my head
I catch the news, just in time to view another stirring of the pot
Talks of in-equality, what people need, and forgetting what they’ve got
But in these times of opposition, the prejudice runs deep
Dividing us by heritage is all they ever preach
Chorus:
They tell us that they really care
But to them it’s just a game
‘Cause we were all Americans
before the hyphens came
When people cared ‘bout who you were
and less about your name
‘Cause we were all Americans
Before the hyphens came

Somewhere down along the line, someone had the great idea
to divide us up by heritage, and profit from that fear
But growing up a while back, before these racial trends
Whether immigrant, or white or black, we just called each other friends
And if we spoke an extra language, it was just another way
To pledge allegiance to the flag, God bless the USA
Chorus
So don’t listen to those talking heads
There’s one thing they forgot
That this Sweet Land of Liberty
Should be one big Melting Pot
So take away the hyphens
We’ll all be the same
No more lines betweens us
Together we’ll remain
Forget about your color
Forget about your name
No more lines between us
Cause we are all the same
Chorus

Unfortunately, the nostalgia of the song describes an America that never was.  There was never a time where it was generally true that “we were all Americans, before the hyphens came.”

Even so, there is a big difference between now and then.  Back then, they may not have achieved the ideal.  Irish may have hated Italian, Protestant might have hated Catholic.  In a great irony many of the “whites” hated the “indians” (who were here first).  And everyone hated the Mormons.  But “That this Sweet Land of Liberty Should be one big Melting Pot” was the ideal.  It was the goal we strove for.  While individuals may have wallowed in hatred of others, as a nation we recognized that the divisions between individuals were wrong and weakened us.  As Benjamin Franklin put it in his famous cartoon:  Unite or Die:
And people who came to the US came to be Americans.  Becoming a part of the greater culture was a priority.  And when they became part of our greater culture, the brought a little of their own.  To a very great extent, it was true that “This sweet land of Liberty, should be one big melting pot.”
Nowadays, however, that’s changed.  Assimilation is frowned upon.  People come to the US for economic or other advantage with no intention of becoming “Americans” in any cultural sense.  Oh, sure, there’ve always been some, but there’s been a sea change in the numbers and assimilation is actively discouraged.  And reverse assimiliation, if people of “American Culture” adopt things from others it’s called “cultural appropriation” and people get up in arms about it.
All of that is ridiculous and discards everything that makes America America.  Cultural Appropriation?  That is our culture, to take the best of what we see around us and make it our own.  And it starts with the American people deciding, first and foremost, to be American and not some hyphen.
And so I leave with this musical interlude:

The NFL and the National Anthem

So it started last year, this third-string quarterback on the edge of being cut makes a big production out of not standing for the National Athem because “oppression.” (Dammit, can somebody oppress me with an $11 million contract?)

Suddenly, the fact that nobody wants this third string quarterback is political.  He’s not being cut because he’s bad, oh no.  He’s being cut because…racism.  And other teams don’t want to hire him, not because he’s bad but because, again, racism. (70% of professional football players are black compared with 13.3% of the US population in general.)

And the story grows.  Other players begin to not only not stand but to expressly kneel as further protest.

What they’re protesting?  Um, that’s a good one.  Aside from a general “America bad” and “Trump bad” this isn’t particularly clear.  And the usual suspects in the media cheer their “courage”.

And the result of this?  People are attending fewer games.  Fewer people are tuning in on television.  And fewer people are buying less NFL merchandise (with some notable exceptions which I’ll get to).

You see, they forgot one thing.  The people who are impressed by this protest, in the vast majority don’t. watch. football. games.  They couldn’t care less about the sport except now to point to the protesters on “their side.” But the thing is, that care, that pointing and saying “see, they agree with us”, doesn’t translate into actual sales.  These protests aren’t pulling those people into stadiums.  They aren’t getting them to buy player jerseys or NFL logo apparel or, really anything.

The folk applauding the logo aren’t becoming football fans.

The actual fans, on the other hand, are annoyed, offended, and insulted.  And. they’re. staying. away.  Sales are tanking.

So what are the teams, and the NFL administration doing?

The coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers decides they’re not going out on the field until after the anthem.  Only one player, Alejandro Villanueva, defied that decision, Villaneuva, a combat veteran, stood alone on his side of the field for the National Anthem.  Of course since then, he’s been “convinced” into apologies for doing so.

I made coach (Mike) Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only. I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault.

No, Mr. Villaneuva.  They made themselves look bad.

As for the fans, Mr. Villaneuva’s jersey is the best seller in the NFL.  People are voting with their wallets.

And there you have it.  While I’d be the last person to say that players don’t have the right to peacefully protest as they see fit, I would say that fans also have the right to not buy tickets to games.  That they have the right to not order pay-per-view showings of games.  That they have the right to not buy merchandise.

And if these protests cost the owners of these teams money (and it’s not just the team the individual players play for.  There’s some complicated rules on how income is distributed among teams that means it hurts everyone in the league) then the owners (within the limits of existing contracts) have the right to replace them with players that don’t cost them money.

I mean, come on, this is the league that fined a player for twerking in the end zone.  You think it’s not within their purview to speak out against politicking on the field, particularly when it’s driving away their fanbase?