One Saturday morning about 47 years ago, soldiers entered a tropical hamlet in search of enemy fighters and killed more than 500 unarmed civilians, many at point-blank range. One of the execution methods also included throwing a villager down a well, and then chasing the lethal cocktail with a detonated hand grenade. several of the civilian women were raped.
The incident resulted in worldwide shock — particularly in the US, where its citizens rightfully observed the way this extrajudicial killing thousands of miles away represented an affront to their own country’s values of democracy and liberty.
Americans were further shocked about the mass murder’s details: the country was South Vietnam; the hamlet, My Lai; the killers, over two dozen American soldiers where only one of them was convicted of a crime.
This chapter in American history reminds me of why pro football quarterback Colin Kaepernick‘s owner cartel-driven ban from the National Football League for his kneeling protest at pre-game National Anthem ceremonies can’t seem to vacate my craw.
The embattled athlete’s quiet protest has turned many Americans into poets, judging from the way they’ve created selective metaphors — if not wildly extensible constructs — for how Kaepernick’s quiet protest represents disrespect toward the US military, his privilege of American citizenship, as well as his country’s values of democracy, liberty and equal justice.
And this makes me revisit the My Lai massacre — didn’t those soldiers disrespect American values?
Would it be accurate to say those soldiers “kneeled”?
Could we also say the military tribunal “kneeled” when they only delivered one conviction?
Did US Secretary of State John Kerry, back when he was a Vietnam war veteran, “kneel” when he allegedly joined his fellow veterans — partially out of disgust for incidents like what occurred in My Lai — to throw their war ribbons and medals over a fence and towards the US Capitol building?
Didn’t Daniel Ellsberg’s “kneeling” lead to his arrest and branding as a traitor to America when he introduced the public to the Pentagon Papers — documented evidence of the lies America told the public about the war in Vietnam?
Could former President Richard Nixon be accused of “conspiracy to kneel” when he plotted to physically harm Ellsberg?
But we don’t need to point our time machine to the 1970s for evidence of “kneeling” American officials.
Let’s look at the racially-biased racketeering operation in Ferguson Missouri, where statistics prove that people of color were less likely than whites to be caught in possession of contraband, yet African Americans were involved in 86% of Ferguson police officers’ traffic stops.
Can we say the Ferguson Police Department — along with the city government agencies — “kneel” when they deployed a modern version of the Black Codes at the expense of African American citizens?
Did police departments across the state of Florida “kneel” in the way unarmed innocent men of African descent are more likely to be shot than Whites?
I’m sure a few of you will say a “few bad apples” in police uniforms misrepresented American values.
But these bad apples have created a disturbing statistical picture. An analysis of several police departments across the country shows that African descendants are less likely to carry contraband but are up to five times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop.
There’s even a court sentencing disparity by race, which means even judges are too busy kneeling to uphold American values.
A PRRI survey found that nearly 80 percent of Blacks and 57 percent of Whites believe police officers treat people of color unfairly.
In other words, statistics and perception reinforce African descendants’ belief that the police departments and courts treated people of color in a way that runs contrary to American principles of freedom, equality and equal justice, while the majority of White Americans don’t acknowledge the problem’s existence.
This brings us to the racial divisions in public opinion about Colin Kaepernick’s protest, and my conclusion.
A Quinnipiac poll finds that 78 percent of Blacks approve of athletes’ National Anthem protests, while 63 percent of whites do not.
Let’s distill to a stronger conclusion: the failure of most Whites to acknowledge the problem of kneeling police officers and judges, and to support the corresponding game protests means the majority of Whites are kneeling as well.
In other words, Kaepernick kneeled because much of America has been kneeling for decades …
song currently stuck in my head: “javanaise remake” – serge gainsbourg