Everything is Political so Now Nothing is Off Limits
On Thursday night, the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs kicked off the 2020 NFL season. The Chiefs were on the field for the national anthem while the Texans stayed inside the locker room. Immediately after, the Texans sprinted onto the field to join hands with the Chiefs in a “moment of unity,” and the moment was greeted by a chorus of boos from the fans at arrowhead. Depending on your perspective, the fans were: (1) offering a standard greeting to an opposing team as they entered the field (2) racists whiners booing a possibly beautiful moment or (3) voicing their displeasure that everything is political. When everything is political, beautiful moments tend to get ruined. That is why so many people complain and warn that sports should be a unifier, not a divider and that politics and sport should rarely wed. When everything is political, nothing is sacred, up to and including moments of unity.
The same people who were saying the fans booing the moment of unity were exposing themselves as selfish frauds are also the same people who had nothing to say about NBA players kneeling during the national anthem on 9/11. September 11th is a sacred day for all Americans. It holds a place that is maybe even more hallowed than July 4th in the psyches of Americans.
And yet, NBA players felt it was appropriate to voice their displeasure with the current state of America on that most sacred of days. Not standing for the national anthem on September 11th is just as selfish as booing a moment of unity. Americans were more unified in the moments, hours, and days following the September 11th attacks than just about any other moment in the last 70 years. But because everything is political, even the sacred day of September 11th is not off-limits.
When Everything is Political, Violence is Sure to Follow
Everything is political now: sports, movies, and even supposedly apolitical things like clothing lines and tires. There is currently no reprieve for people who wish to take a breather. The only outlet available right now to escape our politically charged climate is to unplug and go off into the woods somewhere (except if you are on the west coast where the world is literally burning).
This is dangerous. It is dangerous because the vast majority of people are passionate about politics and hold affronts to their political beliefs as personal insults. Therefore, the vast majority of people are constantly on edge right now. You cannot even go to a gym without it being political.
We need breathers. We need a place where we can relax. However, more and more people are purposefully inserting politics into places where it does not belong. And no, you are wrong when you say “sports have always been political.” Literally the most (or second-most) recognizable sporting event in the world–the Olympics–was created with the explicit notion that politics should stay out of sports. Hence the Olympic Truce.
But we have forgotten all of that. Instead of excising politics out of sports and ensuring that fans from all walks of life and all perspectives can enjoy an event, we are now mandating–by league fiat–for that to not be the case. You might think it appropriate when everything is political (including sport), but you will only hold that viewpoint so long as your viewpoint is the flavor de Jour.
This is a Terrible Time to be a Jewish Sports Fan
Go to New York City. There you will find people from every corner of the world. But for all the different sights and sounds of the Five Burroughs, one of the odder sights–for those not familiar with NYC–is the throngs of obviously Jewish families rocking sports gear. American Jews–and specifically Orthodox Jews–love sports. They love New York sports: Yankees, Mets, Knicks, and the Giants and Jets. American Jews love sports.
However, every single time a religious Jewish person turns on a game right now it is like getting greeted with a kick to the groin. In almost every game of every league, there is something touting Black Lives Matter and the black lives matter movement. Yes, we can all get behind equality. That is a message every Jew can get behind, and has gotten behind in the past when black Americans need the support.
But the black lives matter movement and the Black Lives Matter organization is rife with antiSemites and anitSemitism. Many BLM supporters are the reason Jews are 3.65 times more likely to be the victim of a hate crime in American than a black person. So in the oppression Olympics, Jews are the gold medal winners, but instead of finding support when they turn on their televisions, radios, or mobile devices, Jews get a vicious reminder that their suffering is “coincidentally“ ignored. Not only is their suffering is ignored, but many of the same people causing that suffering are being lauded as heroes.
When Everything is Political, Everything is a Battleground
Politics–by its very nature–is a battleground. When everything is political, you are compelling people to choose. For Jewish Americans, and for anybody that does not agree with things like supporting China as they kill Uighur Muslims, allowing sports to get overtly political forces them to choose between their principles and their teams. They should never be made to choose betwixt the two.
To go full “Jew” here, it is shanda to make them do so. To take what should be a fun time–a time that can also work as a stress release valve–and turn it into a moment of pain, suffering, and disunity is an utter shame. But when everything is political, that is exactly what you are doing.
Do you agree with the political philosophy oozings its way into your ice cream, your tires, and your sports? Who the hell cares? That is the point. You should be able to drive on your Goodyear Tires to get some Ben & Jerry’s before watching some NBA and NFL and not have to waste a single moment worried about the political persuasions of each thing along the way. But nope, not in 2020.
In 2020 you need to remember that the chicken sandwich is from Chick-fil-A (traditional marriage supporters), your ice cream is Ben & Jerry’s (supports Israel), and the game you are watching features guys who are calling for the defunding of the police and who support raging antiSemites (both BLM and the BLM movement). So when fans start booing moments of unity, you have to ask yourself, “why are they so angry? What has them so upset?” You might think they are a bunch of selfish, racist, yokels. Sure, that is an option. But they also could be good-hearted people who are simply fed up that one of their rare moments of leisure and fun has been turned into political kabuki theater.
So for their sake now, and for your sake in the future when you do not agree with the politics being pushed during a game, stop making everything political. Let our food be our food, our sports be our sports, and let us all cheer and boo Tom Brady for what he does on the field and not for who his friends are or what hat he keeps in his damn locker. Politics is stupid. And when everything is political, everything is stupid.