Oct 2, 201710:49 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
Best and worst of the protests
My favorite comment so far about the NFL protest situation comes from Governor John Bel Edwards:
"Having served our country in the military, I will always choose to stand for the national anthem and encourage others to do likewise. We recognize that our fellow citizens have a First Amendment right to express these sentiments. That said, it seems to me there are more effective ways to go about it."
Yes, yes, we all know as is repeated ad nauseum every time this issue comes up, we all have our First Amendment freedom of speech rights, but that doesn’t eliminate having some discretion about how those rights are used. Rule No. 1 in trying to draw attention to a cause is to not create a controversy that draws attention away from your cause.
My favorite response by a football team in dealing with the issue was by the New Orleans Saints.
Curiously, the Saints were in England, the land that created many of the philosophies about the rights of individuals, which influenced the fledgling United States. The players agreed to take a knee before the national anthem to demonstrate unity to a social cause then to stand together for the anthem. It was a classy move. Because the overseas game was the first of the day, the team’s action likely got lots of television coverage. Maybe the other teams can be inspired by the Saints example.
My favorite gesture among the protesters
Cam Jordan of the Saints sat on the bench during the national anthem at the Carolina game last week, yet had his hand on his heart and mouthed the words of the national anthem.
Worst moment so far this season
Words spoken by the President of the United Sates when he referred to all protesting players as “sons of bitches!” All that did was drive people into a corner, gave more support to the protesters, and intensified the anger.
Most touching moment.
On another football field, Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, the crowd roared when Congressman Steve Scalise, himself the victim of a shooting and using crutches, was honored before the game.
Victims and perpetuators transcend color lines; and that you can take a knee to.
And if I may use my First Amendment right: just leave the flag out of it.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), is available at local bookstores and at book websites.
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