I like Mitch Albom, I really do. I enjoy his writing, and I love to hear his commentary on ESPN when he is a guest. Granted, we may not always agree, but, in the end, I can at least see where he’s coming from…and also why he might feel his opinion is right. I have never listened to an opinion of his and thought he was dead wrong. And then this week happened.
Mitch wrote “Anthem protesters may want to look at a calendar” for the Detroit Free Press this week, and I found myself saying, “He just doesn’t get it” and “What the fuck??” more than once while reading it. He seems to be a Jersey kid at heart, so I won’t insult him or his intelligence.
But this article is way off base.
Granted: I get the sentiment. Many people think that no one should have the unabashed gall to protest on 9/11, which is a modern era “Holy” day of remembrance. I can understand where that gut feeling comes from, as I can still remember where I was that day 15 years ago. What I did. The emotions I went through trying to reach friends, family and loved ones in New York and DC during and after. But, at the same time, I have the benefit of standing back and logically thinking:
“Shouldn’t we, on this day when we can remember all of us coming together so well…regardless of race, creed, color or sexual orientation…shouldn’t we as a nation also stop to collectively wonder why we can’t ALWAYS be that together? What better day than 9/11 to point out disgusting it is that a tragedy of that magnitude was needed for us to give two shits about our neighbor?”
Mitch is a man of faith, famously so, and I would expect him to feel this in his gut.
This is why, when he took the low-road and reminded his readers that Colin Kaepernick is “A biracial American male raised by two adoptive American white parents“, I was so shocked. Really, Mitch? Really? Going the route of so many folks who are less educated than you and also play the “well, hes not even totally white…” card, as if his partial whiteness somehow makes him exempt from racism? As if his white DNA should somehow force him to suppress the black?
This is White Privilege at its most stinging. And as a “biracial American male”, I can speak to that in volumes. It’s also a sickening play on words, because it assumes that because we have the “privilege” of having white chromosomes, we should somehow feel less inclined to feel the pangs of discrimination.
Shame on you, Mitch.
Then it got worse.
Talking out of one side of his mouth while the other side spoke completely differently, Mitch said that the very rights that allow Kaepernick to protest are the reasons that he shouldn’t.
Ya’ll go ahead and digest that for a minute.
He shouldn’t protest because in other countries he wouldn’t even HAVE this freedom.
Mr Albom then lists a few countries where it wouldn’t be allowed: Cuba. Myanmar. Syria. China.
So, a reverse of your mom telling you to clean your plate, because “there are starving kids who don’t even have food”.
Don’t protest. Because you CAN protest, but, others can’t.
Albom says, about Kaepernick’s motivation:
But his given reason makes his action seem misguided. First of all, it’s the national anthem, not the anthem of the United Police Departments. Abuse by police, when it happens (and if it happens once, it’s too much) is not a federally sanctioned act. The Justice Department having the power to oversee local police departments does not mean they send out directives.
Is it a problem? Of course. A big one. And one of many we face as a nation.
You do know you’re “saying” all of this out loud right? In public? To the world?
Translation: Its a national problem, but, you shouldn’t protest during national things.
Then Mitch pulls out the “starving kids” argument again, and points out other marginalized groups that could protest but (in his eyes) don’t.
Maybe Mitch Albom is simply confused or of two minds in this, because, at the end, he seems to call for us to unite.
We will not solve any problem — police or otherwise — by retreating to our separate corners and pointing fingers. The first word of our country’s name is “united.” We should try to live up to that, especially today.
But, rather than coming together to see how we are not all treated equally in society, Mitch seems to want us to come together and realize that Kaepernick is wrong.
Like so many before him, Mitch wants us to focus on the act of protest, rather than the protest.