Don’t Blame the Kneelers—Blame Those Who Brainwashed Them

The brouhaha over political demonstrations during the National Anthem makes me think of a scene from “Junior Bonner,” a 1972 Sam Peckinpah film about rodeo cowboys starring Steve McQueen. A barroom brawl has broken out during the rodeo’s noontime break, and the biggest bruiser in the joint decides to put a stop to it. How do you make a bunch of drunken cowboys stop throwing punches? Call the cops? Use tear gas? Turn on the sprinkler system?

No, our big guy wades through the melee, approaches the bandstand, and tells the musicians, “I think it’s time to play something patriotic, fellas.” So the band strikes up “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and before you can sing “Home of the Brave,” all those drunks have quit fighting and come to attention. Even McQueen, who’s been necking with his girlfriend in a phone booth, stops, stands up and places his hat over his heart.

That may be the funniest and most light-hearted moment you’ll ever find in a Peckinpah picture. But I wouldn’t pretend the early ’70s were a Golden Age of patriotism. It was the Vietnam era, after all, and even the military was riven with anti-war and even anti-American sentiment. When I saw that movie scene together with a bunch of soldiers and Marines at an Army training camp near Mount Rainier, I heard someone in the audience give a disgusted shout: “Rednecks!” Or maybe he appreciated them, I don’t know. But the point is that the National Anthem once was something that could make people stop trying to stand off against one another and stand shoulder to shoulder instead.

Not like now.

Since President Trump weighed in on the kneeling protests, professional football players seem more inclined than ever to disrespect the flag. You can’t really blame the athletes for their sideline antics, however. They are young men, and no one’s ever taught them any better—not in school, not in college, not in the movies they watch or the songs they hear or the pop icons they worship.

Worse, they’ve been bombarded for years with lies about how Americans invented slavery, about how cruel pioneers made war on peaceful Indians, about how racist cops shoot black men for sport, about how evil Bible-thumpers want to reduce women to baby-making Handmaids, and God knows what else.

The whole idea of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” born as the poem “Defense of Fort McHenry,” is of America as an embattled nation, whose people stand or fall together, along with the flag that represents us all—and that idea is foreign to the generation being produced by today’s culture.

America embattled? Some of those sideline kneelers don’t have any direct memory of 9/11. Most of them were just kids at the time. As for the night a decade before, when Whitney Houston electrified the nation at the Super Bowl with her fantastic rendition of the National Anthem, defiantly performing without fear even as people warned that Saddam Hussein might attempt to blow up the Super Bowl in retaliation for America’s part in the first Gulf War—that happened before many of the kneelers were even born. No one who witnessed it will ever forget how that joyful, triumphant moment swallowed up the fears that preceded it. But the kneelers know nothing of that. Sadly, they can remember nothing like it.

So don’t blame the kneelers. Blame the liars who brainwashed them. Rather than punish the players or try to drive their league out of business, give a big Bronx cheer to the whole boatload of teachers and professors, rap music moguls, Hollywood stars, late-night “comedians,” red-carpet celebrities, left-wing politicians. and America-bashing pundits whose every word is designed to kill any feeling of patriotism, and instead stigmatize it as “chauvinism,” “jingoism,” and “white supremacism.”

Boycott them. Drive them from office. Mock their pretensions, pop their balloons, dry up their revenues, until they are turned out into the street and have to flip burgers for a living. Because those people are the ones to blame.

Don’t try to coerce patriotism out of anyone. Just pray that God and we might kindle its fire in the kneelers’ hearts and in ours, so that we all may someday feel again the joy and love Whitney and all her countrymen once felt for one another, on that January night in 1991.


About Karl Spence

Karl Spence is a retired journalist living in San Antonio. His work has appeared in National Review, the Chattanooga Free Press, American Thinker and at

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31 responses to “Don’t Blame the Kneelers—Blame Those Who Brainwashed Them”

  1. “Worse, they’ve been bombarded for years with lies about how Americans invented slavery, about how cruel pioneers made war on peaceful Indians, about how racist cops shoot black men for sport, about how evil Bible-thumpers want to reduce women to baby-making Handmaids, and God knows what else.”

    • America did not invent slavery, but it did practice it, and it was a profound moral wrong — particularly since the country was conceived, as few others, as a place where “all men are created equal.” It was not replaced by equality, but instead by Jim Crow – a system of law and culture that limited the freedoms and ambitions of African Americans that was, by any understanding of the American idea, also a profound moral wrong. That system only ended about 50 years ago, well within the lifetimes of many of the people leading us.

    • It’s possible the Native Americans were not peaceful, but this land was theirs until European settlers stole and swindled them out of it. What’s done is done, but to act like this wasn’t wrong is to assume rights to the land that the settlers did not have.

    • I’m not sure there’s a widespread idea that cops hunt blacks for sport. What can be said is that blacks are disproportionately the persons shot by police, even when accounting for crime, and even when the person shot turned out to be unarmed. Furthermore, even where such shootings were unambiguously wrong – think Philando Castile, think Tamir Rice — the officers who behaved wrongly are rarely punished. More to the point, this is what’s specifically being protested.

    These aren’t myths. We can debate how much each of these truths actually matters in the story of America, but they aren’t myths. There’s a lot great about America, but a refusal to see – or a mocking of – how it hasn’t been great for some groups of people is not an approach rooted in truth.

    • Hello, Joel! Glad to see you’re on the job. Take care that you don’t spend too much time arguing with conservatives, or, like Dr. Ehrlich working on a cure for tuberculosis, you might become infected with the deadly microbe yourself.

      Thank you for acknowledging that America didn’t invent slavery. Like almost every other people on earth, we did practice it, but unlike any other people on earth, we abolished it at the cost of more than 600,000 lives lost in the Civil War.

      Did you know that Nathan Bedford Forrest, first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, not only quit the Klan but in the last years of his life responded to the night riders’ continued violence by saying that if he “were entrusted with proper authority he would capture and exterminate the white marauders who disgrace their race by this cowardly murder of Negroes”? He even became an apostle of integration, nearly a century before its time. Read all about it in Jack Hurst’s biography, or if you’d like a shorter version, get in touch with me via the email link at my Web site and I’ll send you a copy of my piece on Forrest called “Between Devils and Angels,” which I wrote for the Chattanooga Free Press.

      The right alternative to anti-American propaganda isn’t a corresponding degree of distortion and hostility in the opposite direction; it’s something more “fair and balanced,” to coin a phrase. Here’s an example having to do with the Indian Wars, something I wrote in Chattanooga that happily has been transcribed and posted at the Web site Native News:

      Regarding your last point, maybe it was over the top for me to say cops are accused of killing blacks “for sport.” Perhaps I should have said “wantonly,” “for no good reason,” “out of sheer racist hatred,” or something like that. Those accusations inarguably have been made.

      I discussed the issue briefly in my previous American Greatness post, “Crime, Race, and the Thin Blue Line.” Two days after you posted your comment there, “Snidely Whiplash” took me to task over the Philandro Castile case, which I had mentioned, and I replied to Snidely. Check it out.

      Black Lives Matter is no doubt angry about the Castile and Rice cases, but the cases that got BLM started, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, are at the other end of the scale. The BLM people would have a lot more credibility if they would admit it when they turn out to be dead wrong about something.

      I thank you again for your civility in these posts, but I believe your assertions about the racial statistics on cop shootings are in conflict with what Heather Mac Donald has been writing over at City Journal and in her books. You should study her work thoroughly. It could only do you good.

    • You are wrong. Whites are shot proportionality and actually more than blacks by the police. And the shooting of all is dropping by the year, much less than 20 years ago. Blacks are shooting blacks, in mainly Democratically policed cities. There is no automatic or moral right to own land. You have to hold it. That has been historical fact of life through the ages. One of the first slaveholders was a black. Muslims were the ones who traded the slaves and still are.

  2. While I am all in favor of driving the brainwashers from office, popping their balloons, drying up their revenues – yes please, indeed – I cannot really acquit the present-day youngsters.

    I don’t like Hamlet by William Shakespeare: either the play or the prince. It is the one piece of writing by that greatest of secular bards which strikes me as letting its author and Truth down. Yet the leading character does have a point when his friend Horatio is shocked by his conduct.

    You will recall that the prince’s schoolmates Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have taken him to England with the wicked King Claudius’s secret injunction to that (then) satrapy to have the prince murdered by the authorities there. During the voyage Hamlet has discovered the plot, altered the royal rescript, and turned the tables on them. THEIR heads are struck off as they land on English soil.
    When Horatio demurs at this cold-blooded behaviour, Hamlet rejoins ‘Why, man, they did make love to this employment.’ (Act 5, scene 2)
    What has happened to the famous rebelliousness which used to characterise and is almost supposed to characterise people’s teenage years and young adulthood?

    Why is it the case that after of so many years of being drenched endlessly, monotonously with a leftwing loony conformist orthodoxy – in schools, colleges, the media – a generation has grown up whose notion of Revolt is to hymn ever more loudly and violently the nonsense they have been fed with?

    Why is there not ONE symptom of critical thinking among those so many young people, no impulse to stand back from all the propaganda and ask ‘Hang on, is that true?’ Why is there no normal natural itch among them – if only for its own sake – when one is 17, 18 or 22 years of age, to kick over the traces and reject automatic acceptance of what one has been taught?

    Are they not like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – making love to the employment that the destroyers of western civilization have assigned them? ( And of course there are plenty of folk waiting in the wings all ready with sharp scimitars to cut off their heads in plain ugliest fact.)

  3. 3 factors have coalesced in my thinking / awareness of late.

    Saul Alynski
    Critical Theory
    Yuri Bezmenov

    The first 2 are quite known to anyone looking at this web site. The third, perhaps not.

    Less than 10 minutes to pull it all together. There are other more complete lectures available.

    The perfessers at amerikan universities never gave up on communism. What is happening now is not a coincidence. There are legions of peepul who have studied the methods to overthrow a society. We elected one for president, twice.

    Democracy’s weaknesses are very well understood. Have been for a couple of thousand years.

  4. “They are young men, and no one’s ever taught them any better—not in school, not in college, not in the movies they watch or the songs they hear or the pop icons they worship.”

    You describe the role of parents, which many have outsourced to the public sector and have allowed modern culture to make destruction of the family OK, with social entitlement programs to make it viable. And, yes, I would blame them if only to have the consequences of their behavior serve as a lesson to be learned and not coddled for not knowing any better. These multi-millionaires kneeling in the name of “equality” — please. All those other sources you cite are bastions of an amoral left who just adores these throngs of “useful idiots” and feeds on unrest.

  5. Just a quick point of reference: The “kneeling” while our National Anthem is played actually started with the WNBA in ~August 2016; but then it was picked up by Kaepernick.

    • There is a White National Basketball League? That explains a lot.

  6. i know the kneelers are negroes, but shouldn’t they be held a teensie weensie responsible for their own actions?

  7. Yeah shut up. It doesn’t matter what kind of excuse they are using. No blacks seem to really fit in here, and its not because of anything that actually happened now or historically. ITS ALL RACE. They are not American. America was built by White Western Men and these people are NOT THE SAME AT ALL. Citizenship is a meaningless distinction. They are tribal. Everyone is really. They cannot “get past it”. They are not part of the people who made and built America and THEY KNOW IT. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus and others. They are JUST DEAD WHITE MEN TO THEM.

    • It has changed. There are many blacks in middle class suburbs and high positions, including President (if you call him black, which I don’t). The whole Obama administration was full of blacks and muslims.

  8. Don’t blame gullible ADULT fools for their unacceptable behavior?
    That’s how We got here in the first place.
    Let’s just empty ALL the jails and penitentiaries while We’re at it.

  9. “Don’t Blame the Kneelers—Blame Those Who Brainwashed Them”

    – Are they over the age of 18?

    – Are they mentally retarded?

    – Can they read and write?

    – Do they have access to media (of any type)?

    – Do they have agents with whom they are in contact?

    Unless all questions are in the solid “NO” column, then they’re responsible for their actions.

    • EXACTLY!! Your post reflects exactly what I was going to post. Being a weak minded stooge is no excuse for being a puppet of Kaepernick. People need to think for themselves and be their own man or woman, and take responsibility for their actions. Everybody wants to blame someone, or something else for their downfalls. It’s ridiculous.

      • last monday I got Jaguar XJ from making 4296 bucks thiss month and more than 10,000 bucks lass month . it’s actualy the most-rewarding I’ve ever had . I began this 10-months ago and almost immediately began to bring in minimum 76 bucks per/hr . It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it http://VIPCashCareerPartTimeJobs….

    • They are the Star Trek Borg. Sadly.mommy and daddy let’s them live in the basement with absolutely no responsibilities–mommy cooks for them, does their laundry, and daddy makes sure their basement toilets work.

  10. Sorry, Karl, but this is a war. These man-children have decided to take a stand. It will not due to exempt them from reaping the whirlwind. It’s always comes a shock when you realize that you were wrong. It’s one of life’s great ‘learning experiences’ (assuming you survive your error). It’s an experience I do wish on my worst enemies.

  11. I’m more angry at the owners and Roger Goodell, but I’m still pretty p*ssed at the players, too.

    • Yep, these foolish guys would have done well to nip this kaeperneck and girlfriend’s radical, wandering idiot idea in the bud. If we think the players’ know not what they do, then we sure as heck can hold the league leadership accountable. Roger, time to share that clown nose.

      Disgusted? Let ’em know:

      NFL Corporate Office & Headquarters
      280 Park Avenue Culver City CA 90232
      NFL corporate phone number:
      (212) 450-2000

  12. Karl Spence thinks the kneelers are stooopid who can’t think for themselves.

    • That would be an accurate assessment , however it is our duty to educate the simpletons via a boycott .

  13. Not really, these men – who are of military age – are old enough to know what they’re doing. They’re kneeling to show their allegiance to the Black Lives Matters radicals, who claim their inspiration from the 1970’s Black Liberation Army. The three women who founded BLM worship convicted killer Assata Shakur. They’ve made their bed, now let them lie in it. Don’t blame it on everyone else.

  14. Well, they are given tens of millions of dollars for playing a child’s game and they are still unhappy ! What do they want ?? Since the mid 50’s, these people have been unhappy and now they say they hate this country ! Maybe they will return to their homeland and play for the Niggerian Football League or the Kenyan Basketball Association !

  15. Televised sports is the most politically correct component in all of media. Using highly paid black athletes as a shining example of a multiracial utopia, the leftist kommissars who run the media conglomerates are always eager to promote any enterprise that destroys the historic American nation as a means of preparing the way for the new diversity paradise. No matter how stupid, violent, or boorish these black or white players may be, they make money for the networks and owners while providing cover for the brainwashing of normal Americans. It is an enterprise that has long been criticized on the right. I’m happy to see many others awakening to the true face of “sports”.

  16. The game isn’t about football anymore, it is about the entertainment industry making yuge profits off the sheep. The NFL, and most of the rest of pro sports, has been eaten by the borg. The pro sports industry is nothing more than a useful tool of the left now and anyone not bright enough to figure that out doesn’t have an opinion worthy of constructive consideration.