South Africa has had a shortage of achievements to be proud of, but sport has often filled the void. The BLM Global Network is undoing major gains.
To most South Africans, Nelson Mandela’s lifting the World Cup with Francois Pienaar created an iconic memory of what it looked like for the new, non-racial South Africa to win. This memory has been worn thin under the acid rub of many political and economic failures since. Although fragile, it remained intact, and was bolstered by two more World Cup victories and mass national goodwill.
To understand the damage being done in 2020, the first thing to appreciate is how important it has been that sport stars have represented all of us. The colours that mattered most were green and gold. This view is being undermined.
The second thing to understand is how the #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) movement works in the US, as this provides insight into how BLM support is affecting sport in this country today.
Some South African sports stars, notably Francois Pienaar himself, have started ‘taking a knee’ for BLM. Where did they get the idea? From the US, and one man in particular.
Colin Kaepernick had a good, not great, career in American Football, which was starting to wind down when he took a knee for BLM back in 2016. He was the first, and remains the most famous, sports star to do so. Soon after, he stopped playing sport and became probably sport’s most successful race merchant.
Kaepernick also made news for wearing socks with images of pigs with police hats on them. This might seem cute at first glance. But recall that one of BLM’s first viral chants was ‘pigs in a blanket fry like bacon’, where ‘pigs’ refers to police, especially white police, being burned alive with their little police hats on their heads.
‘Burn every pig’
Former Quillette editor Andrew Ngo shows various images of BLM graffiti in Portland in 2020 that read ‘burn every pig‘, and he also reports a video of a pig’s head with a police hat being burned by Antifa, a radical movement aligned with BLM.
Far from wanting to defund the police, which is what BLM Global Network explicitly, repeatedly and consistently calls for, 81% of black Americans want policing presence to stay the same or increase, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Those who ‘take a knee’ for BLM are at odds with what most black Americans want.
Furthermore, Kaepernick is openly anti-American. Consider his recent claim that the US 4th of July holiday is a ‘celebration of white supremacy’.
If you want a stark contrast, check out then president Barack Obama’s inspiring 2009 4th of July speech ‘on the meaning of this distinctly American holiday’. Kaepernick’s and Obama’s views could not be more different. Maybe that is why Obama defended the ‘free speech’ right to take a knee, but did not endorse or copy the gesture.
Kaepernick’s most awful contribution is his endorsement of violence in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Since 28 May 2020, Kaepernick’s pinned tweet reads:
The ‘cries for peace’ have rained down, not least over the fate of David Dorn, Chris Beaty, Dave Patrick Underwood and Marie Kelly, just a few black Americans killed under the aegis of BLM protest. Indeed, their innocent cries fell ‘on deaf ears’.
Harvard professor Roland Fryer finds – using the most relevant controls – not only that US police are more likely to shoot white people than black people, but also that BLM ‘viral’ protests, in conjunction with ‘pattern-and-practice’ federal investigations, are responsible for alienating the police, incentivising 450 excess US murders per annum, many of the victims being black Americans.
Makes a lot of money
Kaepernick is unimpressed by that; he takes a knee for BLM and stands for violent ‘revolution’ as ‘the only logical reaction’. He also makes a lot of money from the publicity and kudos he garners every time other famous sports stars take a knee, like him, for BLM.
Nike’s most recent ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ advert, with over 40 million YouTube views in the last week, begins the ‘take a knee in sport’ section with Kaepernick taking a knee on camera.
Nike’s Kaepernick Air Force 1 sneakers are imprinted with the date, 14 August, 2016, when he started ‘taking a knee’ for BLM. The footwear has had record sales. And in the US no-one criticises Kaepernick publicly anymore without being denounced as a racist.
Does this mean that everyone who takes a knee is serving Kaepernick’s agenda? Certainly not. Some kneel to propose marriage, some to get knighted, and some just to tie their shoelaces.
Sports24 claims that all who kneel for BLM do so to make ‘their stances against racism, discrimination and exclusion clear’. But is it clear to anybody that Pienaar’s stance on racism is the same as Kaepernick’s?
I hope their views are opposite. Kaepernick does not want to end racism, he just wants a new form of it after violent ‘revolting’.
Anyone who takes a knee for BLM, like Kaepernick, takes on the responsibility of clarifying whether or not they think like Kaepernick too.
Taking a knee is much quicker and easier than making a real positive change, some of which requires critical analysis. The hard work still lies ahead.