When I was a kid, my sister said one night at the dinner table, “Jeff would argue with a stop sign.”
My mother agreed. Rather than be offended, I was kind of proud of myself. I enjoyed debating topics back then and would try to convince anyone I was right.
Decades of experience have taught me to not be so quick to think I am right about anything. Even if I think I am right in this moment, something might happen later that proves me wrong or changes my opinion.
Plus, I have found I just don’t care for arguing anymore. If someone doesn’t agree with me I just want to say, “Well, okay.” And then I want to change the topic and not go any further because I’m probably not going to change my mind, and the other person sure as heck never changes his or her mind.
I think the turning point for me was the 2016 election season when I had to hear all the griping between the two parties in the races for governor and president. I mostly stayed out of things then and have mostly kept my opinions to myself in the past two years, but sometimes I just can’t hold back any longer. This week is a perfect example.
This week is the last exhibition game before the NFL season starts. I have friends posting on Facebook that they don’t care because they are boycotting the entire league because a few players have knelt before games.
I have lots of thoughts on this idea, such as: were you really much of a football fan if you walk away over such an issue? It’s not like the protest is happening in the middle of the game. I don’t even see the national anthem. I’m in the kitchen making a sandwich and grabbing a soda. I wouldn’t even know it was happening if the announcers didn’t keep bringing it up. So how is this interfering with your ability to enjoy the three hours that follow?
Second, the players have said on many, many occasions that the movement started not as a protest but simply as a way of raising awareness of police brutality in some cases.
I am a big supporter of local law enforcement, but I can agree that not every officer is going to behave properly every time. I don’t have a problem with raising awareness of the few bad apples out there. I still support the overwhelming number of good cops who do a danged fine job in a highly stressful position.
It is disrespecting the military, people say. I was in the National Guard, and I don’t feel disrespected.
Now, I don’t think the football stadium is the right place for their actions. I wonder why I didn’t hear about thousands of NFL players coming together in a peaceful march on Washington sometime between February and July when there is no football season.
But I understand the reasoning. Millions of people watch football games every Sunday and Monday — much fewer people would have been watching CNN to see them march in the spring.
Another point to bring up for those wanting to boycott the new season is that the owners voted to install a new rule back in May that if people knelt on the field during the anthem they would be subject to a penalty. The owners are taking a stand to say that they own the stadiums and what happens inside them will be what they choose to allow.
So you are going to boycott the owners now?
Even the president has chimed in on the topic on numerous occasions, even though he really doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country,” Donald Trump said on Fox News in May.
Let’s not forget this is also the same week where Trump wasn’t going to have the flag at half-mast on Monday for the death of Sen. John McCain until he saw a huge public outcry and gave in.
This is the same senator that Trump called a loser for being captured as prisoner of war in Vietnam.
On Wednesday we ran a copy of an editorial from the Greensboro News & Record which detailed how McCain broke both arms and a leg when his plane was shot down behind enemy lines. He was beaten by his captors for refusing to take part in a propaganda video to shame the U.S. He was imprisoned for more than five years and didn’t break.
He was a hero, and Trump called him a loser.
This is the same Trump who did everything he could to avoid being sent to Vietnam himself. He got his draft notice deferred four times because of taking college classes. Once he graduated and was drafted again, he got a medical deferral for “bone spurs.”
Supposedly this was so bad he couldn’t serve in the military, but he was known to play football, tennis and squash and was taking up golf.
When asked about this condition, Trump said he has never had surgery for the bone spurs, but that they healed up on their own over time.
In 50 years since then, he has never had surgery for this condition, but gets out and plays golf? Even today as a man in his 70s?
I had two uncles serve in World War II. Another uncle served in Korea and my dad was in Vietnam. I would have been in the first Gulf War except for a foot injury that sidelined me and eventually got me a medical discharge.
Am I offended by someone kneeling during the anthem? No.
What offends me is a man who got a bogus medical deferral to avoid serving his country telling others they don’t deserve to live in this country for being unpatriotic. What offends me is a draft dodger telling a war hero he is a loser after surviving five years in a POW camp.
Like I said, I just don’t care for arguing anymore, but then again how do you argue the draft dodger’s side of these issues?
Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.