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Doubling down on dumbness

By Gary Exelby

You would think people would learn from the mistakes of others. But apparently not.

I had written not long ago of the beating Hollywood had taken over the summer at the box office and in ratings during the Trump-bashfest that was this year's Emmy awards telecast. Among the reason for the drubbing was no doubt the prodigious efforts by Hollywood types to alienate a substantial portion of their audience: those viewers and moviegoers who just happen to have voted for Donald Trump.

Hollywood chose its side, and it got burned.

So now here comes the National Football League and its various players, who have apparently decided what had happened to Hollywood was a fluke. So they have doubled down on the alienation hand.

Numerous individual players as well as entire teams have decided to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem at football games throughout the country.

The aim of doing so, apparently, has been to call attention to ” well, it really isn't clear anymore. As originally planned (so he says) by Eric Reed, who together with Colin Kaepernick pioneered (!) taking a knee was meant to protest "systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system."

Whether what the two allege is true lies beyond the scope of this column. Reed claimed in a Sept. 25 opinion piece in the New York Times (quoted above) that the intent to kneel was "a respectful gesture ... like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy."

However, the protests have morphed into criticism of the president himself. "The kneel will now become a sign of opposition to Trump," journalist David Corn tweeted after Trump took Kaepernick to task for disrespecting the flag during the Aug. 26, 2016 event.

Certainly protesting the president is the right of every American citizen; Lord knows I did enough of it in my own way during the regime of the 44th president (and before him, the 42nd and 39th).

Cursed at the TV/radio. Changed the channel (or just turned it off). Demolished his claimed "accomplishments" on Facebook. Rejected playing public service announcements by him -- with the full backing of my bosses -- when I managed a radio station.

But I never took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem. Why not?

Because, however Reed and Kaepernick have chosen to dress it up, and however much the mainstream media choose to glorify it, doing anything other than standing for the National Anthem (with or without either a salute or a hand over the heart) disrespects the anthem and the flag, in the view of this veteran.

Millions of us served, many fought and tens of thousands died for the flag which is honored by the playing of the National Anthem. And it just rubs many people (like me) the wrong way to see it disrespected thus.

And before somebody gets up on his high horse and tries to tell me I have no right to feel that way, I must point out: if Reed, Kaepernick and those other athletes who choose to mimic them have the right to feel the way they do, then I do, too.

Deal with it.

And deal with similar reactions now manifested by people who used to be fans of the National Football League, but are now staying away in droves from both the stadiums and the television networks that feature NFL games. According to the New York Post on Nov. 22, viewership of NFL games has steadily declined compared to last year since the season began, down one million viewers in total from the previous year for week 11.

And according to www.breitbart.com, ticket sales to games aren't doing very well either. As just one example, tickets to the Thanksgiving game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants were selling at $10 a piece at one point - down from as much as $100 in some cases.

Why? For the same reason Hollywood took such a big hit at the box office over the summer, and why various award shows on TV have scored record low ratings:

People are getting fed up with being force-fed a message they may not want to hear and who certainly don't want to hear it in the venues in which it is force-fed.

And the NFL is paying the price for permitting this kind of disrespect. Just as did the entertainment industry over the summer and fall.

Yes, Kaepernick et al have the right to express their views. But we have the right not to listen.

And perhaps the knee-takers might want to exercise a right they have apparently foregone up to now:

Learn from Hollywood's self-defeating efforts to alienate its fans. Take your protests someplace other than the stadium.

Gary Exelby is a reporter for the Paragould Daily Press. He can be reached at gexelby@paragoulddailypress.com.