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CSotD: Looking for a reason to believe

Clay Jones got caught in a bit of changing-story whiplash, which happens.

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees made a stupid statement about kneeling for the anthem, saying that protest was okay but that disrespecting the flag was not.

He was immediately slapped down by most of the NFL, including teammates, and issued an apology that was publicly accepted, willingly or begrudgingly, by several prominent African-American players.

In the essay on his website, Clay acknowledges this additional information, but doesn’t accept the apology.

He’s not entirely alone: NFL Network has had substantial coverage of the current racial upheaval, and at least one player said he’d accept the apology but he couldn’t forget the statement.

But the essay doesn’t go everywhere the cartoon goes, and the cartoon, on its own, does not address the complexity of what happened.

Counterpoint, the email-delivered editorial cartoon feature, has recently added commentary from the cartoonists, and, while I’ve always enjoyed and often linked to Clay’s essays, I’d just as soon cartoons spoke for themselves.

In college, I took fiction-writing courses to free up some academic time for the writing I was going to do anyway. We’d submit our stories anonymously and then have to sit and listen to them being critiqued by our fellow students without responding.

Critiqued, misinterpreted, misrepresented, misquoted and misunderstood. Which was hard when you were sitting in the room, but was a valuable lesson because you wouldn’t always be there to explain to readers what they had missed.

You learned that, if one person doesn’t get it, that’s their fault. If several people don’t get it, it’s your fault. And if it doesn’t speak for itself, it’s a failure.

 

David Horsey also addresses jocks who Tweet before they think, accompanied by a shorter essay than he’d have written in his LA Times days.

People in the Seattle area where he now works will recognize the specific incidents he’s referencing, but the cartoon also travels well: I got the overall message before his essay filled in the local aspects.

It’s a good cartoon but more preachy than metaphorical, and there’s a small issue of whether Horsey has standing to speak on behalf of the black community.

“Small” in the sense that he’s saying something I’ve heard from black people and so, pending a little more diversity in the cartooning community, it’s okay that he said it. Someone needed to.

And it’s a good cartoon in that he focuses on the overall topic rather than simply attacking the two individuals whose ill-considered tweets inspired the commentary.

 

Dave Granlund is perhaps not stepping over that line, but seems to be taking sides with a group I wouldn’t champion.

This one requires a bit of background: A group of prominent NFL players released this video, directed to the NFL brass:

It was not a small moment. It mattered.

Yesterday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released the league’s response, in which he specifically, word-for-word, echoes, acknowledges and accepts the demands of the players.

He prefaces those responses with “We the NFL …” speaking officially for the league before going into his own personal thoughts on the topic.

Granlund, however, is not the only person calling bullshit on the response, and it’s not hard to see why. The NFL does not have a good track record on any number of fronts, including the hiring of minorities in key positions, and in its continued defense of Washington’s racist team name.

 

Which I’ve likened to George Wallace standing in the doorway and opposing integration.

Goodell’s response has hardly been out in public 24 hours, and Granlund is not the only person to dismiss it.

But, first of all, if the death of George Floyd and the uprisings surrounding it are going to represent a watershed, we have to be prepared to allow and to welcome fresh starts.

Calling Goodell a liar before he’s had a chance to translate his words into action makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution.

And it puts you in the company of those folks who go to games and begin screaming at the refs and coaches before the first ball has been snapped.

It doesn’t seem likely anything will improve if no-one is permitted to change.

 

By contrast, Deb Milbrath takes a cautious view of legal charges against police in Minneapolis and against lynchers in Florida, asking if it really means change is coming.

I’d nitpick a little, adding the conviction of the police officer in Dallas who killed a man in the wrong apartment, as well as yesterday’s arrest and charging of the bully who attacked kids for putting out signs on a bike path in Maryland.

I might even add in the statements from Mattis and Kelly and others, taking the president to task for rotten policies that go against his constitutional oath.

But that’s something Milbrath and I could hash over with a few beers, because I admire the fact that her caution does not become knee-jerk cynicism.

 

Meanwhile …

Phil Hands casts a bit of healthy cynicism on those calling to defund the police, which I strongly suspect is one of those blanket proposals that also needs to be gone into over a few beers, because, as the older woman says here, it really can’t be taken seriously at face value.

This is also an occasion when it would be nice to have a few more cartoonists of color to unravel the proposition, but at least Hands is addressing it with some cautious doubt.

I note that rightwing cartoonists are merrily using it as an excuse to keep that knee firmly planted on the neck of the black community.

My own brand of cynicism is that I doubt it could be explained in a way that they would hear, because the key to avoiding unwanted change begins with refusing to listen and refusing to trust.

 

To end on a positive note:

I’ve said before that this administration may end with tanks surrounding the White House, the question being which way the turrets are facing.

Mattis, Kelly and others provide some hope, echoed here by Mike Luckovich.

 

Community Comments

#1 Christopher Ward
June/6/2020
@ 5:27 pm

Goodell’s arguments in support of the Redskins name works for the University of Utah Utes, which are named for a specific tribe, which has agreed to the university using their name and which is invited to share their tribal heritage at some of the sporting events and other campus activities. It is not a valid argument for the Redskins, which is a generic name for all Native Americans that is neither respectful nor supportive of the people it describes.

If Washington is that dedicated to their name, they should partner with a specific tribe and use their name with their agreement.

#2 Jim Westgate
June/7/2020
@ 6:57 am

I’ve read that the Washington Redskins took that name because they started out as the Boston (Football) Braves, and when the Boston (Baseball) Braves left town they kept the native theme and changed the name to Redskins (akin to Red Sox). So why can’t they just go back to their original and honorable name and become the Washington Braves?
Or as Christopher Ward said, just speak with a local tribe and ask if they could use their name. The logo on the other hand I’m not against, it’s not a racist caricature like the Clevland Indians was.

#3 Brian Hope
June/7/2020
@ 10:36 am

The Washington Iroquois. “Redskin” was originally a term for a torn-out scalp.

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