September 28, 2017
Plus, now that everybody is taking a knee—the entire Dallas Cowboys team and the owner took knees on Monday night—it’s starting to lose power as a protest gesture, don’t you think? I mean, it’s one thing to get a dragon tattoo in 1984, but it doesn’t exactly brand you a rebel thirty years later when most of your friends already have them.
And now that I think about that Dallas Cowboys thing, they actually took a group knee prior to the National Anthem and then stood up in a men’s-Bible-study hand-holding formation when the song started. Jerry Jones, the Cowboys owner, had said several months ago that he would fire any player who took a knee during the Anthem—exactly what Trump was asking him to do!—and so I guess they worked out some sort of take-a-knee alternate universe in which the pre-Anthem knee has no relationship to the during-Anthem knee. But if you’re taking the knee pre-Anthem, what are you actually protesting against? The pre-game warmup? The Audi commercial that everyone’s watching at home? Having the whole team take knees looks like a slap in the face to the Steelers, the team where nobody takes knees, because it’s gotta be one or the other, right? You can’t assume that taking a knee and not taking a knee means exactly the same thing. Or can you?
And mass acceptance of knee-taking also creates the opposite problem: What gesture do you make if you want to make it clear that you’re not taking a knee? You can’t just stand up—everybody is standing up, and, as I pointed out earlier, you might be standing up simply because taking a knee in the stands is supremely uncomfortable and makes you disappear—so I think the only thing you can do is cross your heart and sing out.
But what if we played the Jimi Hendrix version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at every football game? Would we take knees or not take knees? And would the knee-takers be responding ironically to an ironic interpretation of the anthem, thereby canceling out the original meaning of the gesture? Or would it reverse everything so that the people currently refusing to take knees would suddenly start kneeing all over the place?
It’s all too complicated for me. But I’m gonna take a knee. I’m taking a knee to protest Trump’s attempt to stop us from taking knees in support of Colin Kaepernick’s original knee, which may or may not have to do with free speech or Black Lives Matter but makes the beginning of the game more interesting either way and—
Wait. Did I just see Stephen Curry and LeBron James taking knees?
It’s not even basketball season.
I don’t think they took actual knees, they just talked about knees on Twitter. They’re planning knee-taking for the first game of their season.
So I’ll include that. I’m taking a knee so that every professional basketball and football player will know that I support their struggles to be free of Twitter bullying by Donald Trump while exercising their free-speech rights to engage in symbolic gestures initiated by Colin Kaepernick who possibly suffered free-agent martyrdom in solidarity with Black Lives Matter activists during a lackluster season because Francis Scott Key is a real jerk.
Can we move on now?