Sports

Mark Davis and I Got Into it on Twitter Over Sideline Protests

I declare victory.

mark_davis

In today’s paper, conservative commentator and radio host Mark Davis has an op-ed titled “Americans Have Had it With Sideline Protests Fueled by Activist Racial Revenge.” That’s the online headline, anyway. Print might be different. I have major problems with what Davis wrote. Let’s dive into the text, shall we?

Two new police shooting controversies would seem to lend fresh validity to the laments about racial disparity in law enforcement and the complaints of an America unwilling to confront it.

There is no basis for either.

There is no basis for either what? No basis for the two police shootings? Or no basis for the laments? I mean, I’m confused right out of the gate.

The African-American experience of disparate treatment in police stops is real. It can take the shape of “driving while black,” the needless attention afforded blacks at the wheel of nice cars, or heightened tensions that many believe would not happen with white citizens.

Okay, feels like we’re on the same page. “Needless attention” is a bit of a euphemism. But I won’t quibble at this point.

But the acknowledgment of a human failing in the human world of law enforcement does not mean it is applicable in every story.

Tulsa police helicopter video of Officer Betty Shelby sent armchair analysts into various rants, as if they knew what was going on at street level, where Terence Crutcher engaged in that most hazardous of practices, failing to do what the officer instructs. He was shot as he walked back to his vehicle against a lawful order.

I cannot exonerate Officer Shelby, but nor can she be condemned before investigative wheels properly turn. And they will turn, and fair-minded Americans of all races will wait to see where the facts and evidence lead.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Okay, okay. Too many times in the past (like, almost always) cops haven’t been held accountable for killing people who didn’t need to be killed. But Davis is right. We need more details on this Tulsa killing before we get angry.

The Charlotte shooting Tuesday is harder to shoehorn into a Black Lives Matter narrative; the officer who shot Keith Scott is black. But that did not restrain rioters who saw fit to carry their complaints onto the streets with a rampage of attacks on people and property.

By comparison, the national anthem snubs that had been filling headlines and talk shows seem positively polite. From the NFL to the high school level, players had been registering their frustrations on the issue by disrespecting the nation that allows them the freedom to speak out on any subject any time they wish — on their own time.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hang on. The sideline protests seem polite because they are. And by politely protesting, these athletes are engaging in one of the most American things they can do. That’s not disrespectful at all.

Then, what’s the deal with that last part? They have the freedom to speak out any time they wish — as long as it’s on their own time? I’m confused. Can they do it any time or can’t they?

Sadly, NFL teams and schools, who have every right to expect players to keep their indignation to themselves on the sidelines, have largely caved, permitting behaviors showing contempt for the flag, the anthem, and the nation being honored by teammates and fans all around them.

Davis missed an opportunity here to include bald eagles and the troops along with the flag and the anthem and the nation.

From riots to sideline displays, the saddest element of these excesses is that they are unnecessary. America is a nation wholly prepared to get to the bottom of shootings like Tulsa and Charlotte, or any that may follow.

Jokes aside, this is the paragraph that set me off. No, America is not prepared to get to the bottom of shootings like these. That’s what the sideline protests are about. In America, people are getting killed by police way too frequently. A disproportionate number of the bodies are black. Tamir Rice was 12 years old, for crying out loud. A cop shot and killed him within two seconds of getting out of his squad car. A grand jury thought it was justified. The killings continue. Getting to the bottom of them seems a long way off.

And how can Davis possibly equoate riots with sideline protests? That is just gross. And dumb. Nobody gets hurt during these sideline protests. No property is destroyed. Just athletes taking a knee or raising a fist during a time that I would argue is part of any time. If you like the Francis Scott Key lyrics that his brother-in-law set to the melody of a popular drinking song, then feel free to sing along at home or in the stands. The kneeling athletes, the Americans, they won’t stop you. And the game will start on time.

There’s more to the op-ed. Read the whole thing. Toward the end, he again equates riots with sideline protests. Last night, those equations led me to fire off a tweet that was a bit strident. It led to the following exchange between me and Davis, who, I should say, I have met and found to be delightful. I just think much of what he writes and says is distasteful.

(Note: the way tweets embed, you can’t see that Davis puts two spaces after every period. But trust me. He does.)

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