What are the protesters asking for?
John Stephen Walsh

what is it they want?

I’ve been wondering that all along. The thing about protest as some implicit form of ultimatum, is that once such a stand is taken, the ones taking it are trapped in that position. Having stated no terms, made no demands, getting up off one’s knee now would simply have anyone doing it castigated publicly by their own former fellow-protesters.

This is how a culture of denunciation always behaves: the required statement of solidarity, whatever it is, becomes not a means to achieving any goal, but rather simply the means to not be denounced by the others who are making the same statement. Look at what is already happening to the players who won’t “take the knee”: the implicit conclusion is “so then you support racism?” or “I guess it’s okay with you that black men are shot by the police?”

Oddly, I was in agreement with the idea of not being expected to stand for an anthem, or pledge allegiance to a flag, all along. As in, decades ago. To see a room full of six-year-olds who have no clue what a “republic for which it stands” is, or what “indivisible” could possibly mean, and most of whom will never know nor care, is repulsive to me. It’s a god-damn loyalty oath, and I’ll have no part in it.

Now all these protesting players have achieved, is creating their own binding loyalty oath: “I pledge allegiance to the Knee, and to the ????? for which it stands, one herd of cattle, under Colin, implacable, with attention and approval for all.”

Mandatory displays of loyalty, ultimately, beget one of two things: an absolute oblivion to their meanings even as their motions are habitually being gone through; or, they become replaced with other mandatory displays aimed at mocking the meanings of the original ones. You pounded your chest to keep your own tribe from turning on you, now I’m gonna pound my chest and make sure all my tribe does the same, or else we’ll turn on them.

Awfully civilized.

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