The lady doth protest too much, methinks. The words may be from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, written over 400 years ago, but the Bard of Avon sure knew people.
At issue is the latest sports National Anthem protest controversy, this one courtesy of actress Debra Messing, and how she used and politized her 13-year-old son for cheap publicity for a misbegotten cause. Messing took her child to a New York Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden, where her son asked if had to stand for the National Anthem prior to the game. The exchange between mother and child as posted on Instagram by Messing went something like this:
“‘Please stand for the Star-Spangled Banner.’
Son: ‘Mom, I want to sit down in protest. Can we do that?’
Me: ‘Yes, honey. We can do that.’
“Who’s crying?” she wrote. “I’m not crying. #BLM (Black Lives Matter)”
Messing, who is semi-famous for starring in NBC’s sitcom Will and Grace and a string of mostly forgettable movies, is also known for her leftist activism. Alas, in a better world Messing’s conversation with her son should have gone like this:
“Please stand for the Star-Spangled Banner.”
Son: “Mom, I want to sit down in protest. Can we do that?”
Messing: ‘Yes, honey. We can do that. We can do that because we live in a free nation. However, we don’t want to do that because we are fortunate and grateful to be living in the United States. The United States has been very good to us personally as well as to the world. We are a wealthy family in part because we live in a free market society where the government doesn’t take and redistribute wealth. Our country has helped save the world from oppression during two World Wars, the Cold War, and now the War on Terror. From the internet to computer to planes and automobiles, our country has exported all sorts of wonderful technology and ideas to the world that makes people’s lives better. We as Americans are free to say and do as we believe, which a majority of people in this world do not have the ability to do so. Standing for the anthem is a small tribute in which we reflect upon what America means to us, and to show respect for our fellow citizens and especially all the people who have fought to preserve our unique way of life that we are so grateful for.”
That I think would have been what President Obama would have referred to as a teachable moment.
But getting back to all the National Anthem protests, it is well past the point where they are muddled and meaningless. When you see someone not standing or kneeling during the anthem before a game, do you know what they are even protesting anymore? Is it to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement? Is it show contempt to police? To express hatred of America? To protest the Presidency of Donald Trump? The National Anthem protest’s specific angst seems to blow in and out each day like the wind. If you are like most, you probably don’t care for whatever cause they are promoting and hate the manner in which they are doing it.
Let’s us also not forget that from Ferguson, Missouri to Baltimore, Maryland the Black Lives Matter movement was berthed on media hysteria and exaggerations and has made matters worse not better. Take Baltimore, where the city was torched and thrown into mayhem because the police were portrayed as racists without any basis in fact. How has Baltimore fared since the police have been unfairly portrayed as the enemy and have been treated as such? Murders and crime have skyrocketed, and now Baltimore residents wish they could have more police in their lives and neighborhoods.
One gets the impression from people like Debra Messing and other American protesters that they are in it just for the photo op and for cheap political theater. Ironically there are places in this world with ongoing protests that have real stakes where citizens risk their lives by taking to the streets and protesting real oppression. Most notably the ongoing protests in Iran, where the citizens are taking on the oppressive Mullahs and in Hong Kong where citizens have been expressing anger toward the heavy hand of mainland China’s Communist Party for taking away its freedoms and autonomy with each passing year.
One wonders what Messing tells her son about the protests in Iran and Hong Kong, and one suspects the answer is absolutely nothing.