Before I inundate you with words, please just marvel at this terrible, wondrous creation:
Take a walk around your block. Hug a loved one. Look in the mirror and sigh deeply, for you are a creature of this world—the rotten world that could generate such a tweet. Then come back to your computer or phone.
Okay. Welcome back. We're going to have to talk about that tweet.
If North Korea aims a missile at us, will NFL players kneel or support veterans?
Long, world-weary pause.
Spike Lee: Trump has nuclear codes
We slowly, collectively raise the barrel of the metaphorical revolver to our national temple.
First, let's be fair to CNN—they were more or less just transcribing an incredibly stupid question and an incredibly pointless answer from a “Town Hall” event of the kind designed to broadcast idiotic opinions from both sides of the political spectrum. It was hosted by Anderson Cooper, and it was called “Patriotism, The Players & The President.” (You can watch the whole thing here, though why you would want to, after seeing that tweet, is beyond me.)
So, let's start with the question: “If North Korea aims a missile at us, will NFL players kneel or support veterans?”
I mean…Jesus. Just, Jesus. I'm stealing this quote from a Facebook friend, but it's too good not to use: “At this point, it's probably easier to explain the plot of Inception to children than it is explaining to these grown ass adults how kneeling isn't a slight against the military.”
Let's start there—the fucking protests aren't about the fucking military, the fucking flag, or the fucking veterans. Only stupid people believe that they are. I know that's harsh, but it's beyond frustrating that anybody is still arguing on these terms. The protest started out as a way to draw attention to police violence against black people in America, and it's been co-opted into some vague anti-Trump “unity” thing (as Vice put it, “Brain-Dead Hucksters have Hijacked Colin Kaepernick's Protest”). It was never about the military, in any capacity, even before it got bland as hell. Period.
But this question goes beyond that simple misunderstanding. And I have to repeat it again, because it's so fucking bad: “If North Korea aims a missile at us, will NFL players kneel or support veterans?”
So…the question is this: If Kim Jong-Un points one of his missiles in our direction, which probably doesn't constitute an imminent threat for the moment, though THAT IS NOT THE POINT, this guy wants to know if NFL players, who I would remind you are kneeling to protest police violence or the blowhard-in-chief calling them “sons of bitches,” would stop kneeling in order to support NOT ACTIVE SERVICE MEMBERS who might be threatened by the hypothetical North Korean missiles (but probably not), but veterans, who are no longer active in our military?
Now, at this point I have to mention that the person asking this question lost his son in Afghanistan. His son deserves our utmost respect, and the man deserves our utmost sympathy. But—at the risk of sounding heartless—his loss does not give him permission to help scuttle a social justice movement that has nothing to do with our fight in Afghanistan, and it doesn't excuse him from contributing to the kind of hateful, misdirected rhetoric of white anger, fueled by the most cynical, powerful right-wing voices in America, that makes racial justice so hard to achieve.
I'm sorry, but it's this muddled kind of thinking that makes conservative America the butt of so many jokes. You could program a robot to spout a series of unrelated conservative talking points, and it would sound more intelligent, more coherent. I know I'll be painted as an elitist by saying that, but the lack of cognition here is appalling. It's like every stupid stereotype about red America reduced into one sound byte—scared of its own shadow, ignorant, isolated, and completely fucking brainwashed. Each word has nothing to do with the next—it's just a chain of patriotic-seeming jingoistic noises designed to satisfy an army of fucking simpletons who have forgotten how to think for themselves, or to think critically.
This was probably the best response, because it removes the apparently dopamine-inducing right-wing code words and replaces them with nonsense:
What a bad, bad question, and what a bad representative for this country.
And now the answer: Spike Lee, wearing a pair of red glasses seemingly designed to alienate…everyone?...correctly stared at the questioner like the man had three heads. This is the exact kind of bafflement the situation deserved. But then he failed to point out the stupidity therein and instead chose to approach the question from an entirely different angle, saying that Trump’s access to nukes scared him more than Kim Jong-Un. Which is appropriate, I guess, because it was a way of answering disconnected nonsense with more disconnected nonsense. You can’t really blame Lee for missing “the point,” since the point was gibberish, but was it too much to expect him to shoot down the logic he could identify, and explain that the protest wasn’t about the troops?
Yes, yes it was. Expecting anything redemptive from this exchange is a fool’s errand, and we are all worse off for having witnessed it.