Let’s get back to dealing with real issues

Published 7:38 pm Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A lot has been said and written about the practice of pro football players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem at football games.

And as I sat and tried to think about what to write this week, my inner self told me to stay away from writing about this topic. This is one time I’m not listening, and I will probably pay the consequences at some future date.

First of all, protests during the National Anthem by athletes are not new.

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I go back to the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City when sprinters U.S. sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos stuck their black-gloved fists in the air and bowed their heads when the anthem was played. Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the time were two of the top sprinters in the world, and their appearance in the 200 meters was sure to produce a 1-2 finish for the U.S. But they had a plan. Carlos pulled up and finished third so the men could give their salute to call attention to the plight of blacks in the U.S. When Tommy Smith was asked later if he was proud to be an American, he responded, “I’m proud to be a black American.”

The actions of Tommy Smith and John Carlos raised some of the same objections then as the actions of the football players are getting now. The objections against the sprinters’ actions died down several months later. The country, and the world, had other things to worry about — Vietnam, budgets, terrorists and the general act of living.

I personally don’t have an opinion at this point about athletes kneeling for the National Anthem. I guess that’s due to my experience as a reporter, where I’m taught to look at things objectively and try to see both sides. I know my late Uncle Shelby, were he alive today, would be blood red in the face and spitting mad over the whole issue. My dad would have voiced his opinion against it and then gone back to living his own life.

But the question remains, is what’s going on disrespect for the flag or a move to call attention to the fact that some minority groups in this country are not getting what some people believe is fair treatment.

What’s really going on is a group of people have chosen to practice their right of expression that is guaranteed under the First Amendment to protest something they see as a wrong.

Now that the opinions have been expressed, let’s get over it.

It’s time we grow up and get back to dealing with the real issues in our country.

We have too many problems in this country such as health care, a balanced budget — or any budget at all, education and unemployment that need to be addressed and resolved, and three states and one possession ravaged by storm needing aid. These are far more important than obsessing over what a bunch of athletes are doing.
John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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