The Dallas Cowboys began their training camp this season by honoring the five slain Dallas police officers shot and killed during a Black Lives Matter rally last month. At the behest of Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, the team walked arm in arm with the families of those who were killed and injured in the attack on the first day of training camp. The Cowboys unveiled a decal on their helmets bearing the inscription “Arm in Arm” which they planned to wear during pre-season and regular season games.
The NFL should have embraced this act of kindness as good citizenship. Instead, the NFL said the Cowboys were out of bounds. It said no.
The NFL fumbled.
Its decision needlessly alienated Dallas police officers. Sgt. Demetrick Pennie, president of the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation, stated, “The NFL had an opportunity to be leaders and advocates for change in law enforcement.… These are our friends and our loved ones… it hurts to not have the NFL fully support us.”
But at least one left-wing Dallas journalist has praised the NFL’s decision. In a blog post that appeared in the Dallas Morning News, Tim Cowlishaw wrote:
If you allow that, do you allow decals saying Black Lives Matter? Pro Life? Pro Choice? Repeal Obamacare? John 3:16? Where does it end? I think there’s a place for protest and there’s a place to honor victims in different ways. I understand the NFL’s reluctance to open this door.
Cowlishaw would go further on Twitter. He tweeted, “NFL gets stuff wrong but got this right. Other ways to honor them without opening this political door.”
Needless to say, other tweeters took Cowlishaw to task for his claim that this honor was “political.” Chris Rosenberg replied, “Because it’s political to show support for your police force that just lost officers in an attack?” To which Cowlishaw retorted, “You think honoring police officers and disallowing honors for those killed elsewhere by police is not political?” Does Cowlishaw believe the armed black man shot and killed by Milwaukee PD on Saturday be bestowed with an honor?
Needless to say, this changes the entire tenor of Cowlishaw’s objection. To begin with, why is honoring the memory of slain police officers a political act? Is it because these officers were murdered during a Black Lives Matter demonstration? Or is it simply because they are police officers?
Whatever the reason, Cowlishaw goes from making a technocratic argument that the NFL shouldn’t exempt any team from its uniform policy because you would have to honor everyone to stating that police officers have killed civilians. Surely this is a political argument on the part of Cowlishaw. In which case, Cowlishaw is essentially arguing that because police officers have killed civilians (sometimes unjustly) the Dallas Cowboys cannot honor the fallen officers in their own community? By this reasoning, because a few U.S. troops behaved badly at Abu Ghraib no sports team can honor American soldiers who served in Iraq. This is moral equivalence at its most absurd.
Surely Cowlishaw is familiar with the 9/11 attacks. For Cowlishaw’s edification, I would remind him that after MLB resumed its schedule the New York Mets donned NYPD, FDNY, PAPD & EMS caps for three regular season games. This would include the game at Shea Stadium against the Atlanta Braves on September 21, 2001 (the first professional sports event in New York City following 9/11) where Mike Piazza hit the most dramatic home run of his Hall of Fame career. If a New York sports team can honor fallen police officers and other emergency personnel in this manner, then why can’t a Dallas sports team do the same? The deaths of 411 emergency personnel (343 firefighters, 60 police officers and 8 EMS workers) were part of the darkest day in the history of New York City (and very arguably the history of this country). The case can be made that the deaths of those five Dallas police officers was the darkest day in that city’s history since the assassination of President Kennedy.
To put this matter into perspective, Dylan Gwinn of Newsbusters points out that the NFL had no objection to Beyoncé performing her anti-police song “Formation” during the Super Bowl halftime show earlier this year:
The NFL allowed that to happen, not in a mere regular season football game, but during the halftime show of the most watched television event of the year. That’s the platform the NFL gives to anti-police activists. What do police officers get from the NFL?
Not even a sticker in a preseason game.
One of the principal aims and objectives of Black Lives Matter is to delegitimize the police. While it might not be the NFL’s intention, allowing Beyoncé to sing her anti-police song during the Super Bowl Halftime Show and its refusal to let the Cowboys honor the slain Dallas police officers both contribute to the delegitimization of law enforcement.
The NFL has fumbled, but it has a chance to recover the fumble by reversing course and allowing the Dallas Cowboys to honor their city’s slain officers in this manner. Even it’s only for one game.
For this to come to pass, pressure must be brought to bear on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. If you wish to respectfully urge him to reverse course, you can contact him by phone at 212-450-2000 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Perhaps some good can come of it.