Last weekend hundreds of National Football League players, coaches, and even team owners pushed back against Donald Trump’s attacks on sports figures who have protested the treatment of African-Americans by refusing to stand during the national anthem. Some went down on one knee. Some linked arms. Some didn’t even come onto the field till the anthem was over.
I was caught off guard by this news. For almost the first time since election night, I was proud to be an American again.
Like many others I was shocked by the election outcome on November 8. I had already been amazed that more than, say, 20% of US voters would support Trump. But when our citizens actually chose this man as President, I felt stark despair. (My post-election entry lists nine compelling reasons.)
Since that night I have occasionally seen glimmers of hope. Just this week, for example, John McCain stood up for rational, detailed discussion of proposed health care legislation, and for bipartisan cooperation. But the speed and the extent of the football players’ response to Trump’s “son of a bitch” diatribe truly amazed me.
I was particularly impressed that coaches and owners joined in, but not everyone found this inspiring. The New York Times, for example, emphasized various criticisms of the NFL and its team owners, such as their reluctance to admit that concussions damage brains.
Well, as a general rule, which is more constructive? To say:
“These people just did something good, but they have also done bad things. Shame on them!”
Or to say:
“These people have done bad things, but they just did something terrific. Good for them!”
Shall we praise people when they make progress, or just keep scolding them until they reach our standards of perfection?
Don’t get me wrong. I love the Times and I eagerly read its print edition. But I think we need to celebrate the positive, and not just complain about what’s wrong.
Today I’m happy to see signs of resilience in my deeply troubled native land.
Roger Christan Schriner