This article by retired Air Force Colonel Edward Pernotto is one of the more absurd and fascist-lite pieces of writing in the entire anthem protest discourse. Pernotto starts out by extolling his grandfather who played for a professional football team in 1914, and then moves on to discuss the playing of the national anthem at football games in 1917, and the NFL players who left professional football to fight in World Wars I and II—all of which took place during a time of overt, horrific, murderous racism against African-Americans. With few sporadic exceptions, Blacks were essentially barred by whites from playing professional football until the 1940s. And even then, their opportunities to play football were mired in racist terms and conditions.
Pernotto goes on to recommend that “the NFL owners and players associations agree to make the national anthem part of the game and follow the U.S. Code.” Pernotto is referring to 36 U.S.C. §1301, a statute which is not punitive, and merely provides guidance regarding the actions one may, not must, take during the playing of the national anthem. Pernotto wants Roger Goodell and company to require that “[a]ll employees of the NFL, including owners, staff, officials and players, will render the appropriate respect to the flag during the anthem. If any individual feels they [sic] cannot do so, they will remove themselves from sight and wait until the ceremony is completed. If they persist in protesting, they [sic] should be fined heavily, with the money going to charities benefiting families of fallen military and first responders.”
Here again is the sentiment that these slaves individuals need to be brought back under control by the strong hand of their masters. National Football League football players who have participated in national anthem protests are all grown men challenging racism in America—something that has likely affected all of them at one point of their lives or another. Pernotto has decided not only that he—a white man—should determine the method and manner by which these Black men should protest racism in America, but also that said rebellious negroes should be “fined heavily” if they do not hide their pesky silent protest where they will not sully his efforts to enjoy his football game. How unbelievably entitled.
Pernotto was not done with his absurd recommendations. He goes to say “[i]f the NFL does nothing to resolve this situation, I recommend the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issue the following: A prohibition on U.S. military color guards; no use of service members to unfurl giant flags; no uniformed military presence of any kind at games; and, finally, no flyovers of military aircraft. Oh, yes, and a ban on all military commercials for NFL games.”
The NFL and the Department of Defense (DoD) were already embarrassed in 2015 when the “patriotism for pay” scandal revealed that the DoD paid NFL teams millions of taxpayer dollars in exchange for manufactured displays of patriotism. Thus, keeping official displays involving military members to a minimum is already a prudent course of action for the NFL. Second, while service regulations on the wear of the uniform differ, there is no DoD wide prohibition on military personnel wearing their uniforms to games in their personal capacities; and NFL players not standing for the national anthem would be a nonsensical reason with no relevant military nexus to impose such a prohibition. Finally, DoD public affairs guidance encourages strong connections between the military and local civilian communities. This guidance authorizes the limited official use of government personnel and equipment to facilitate those community relations goals, subject to specific conditions. Again, to eliminate authorized uses of government resources based upon petulant, racist demands that Black Americans cease protesting the injustice is senseless.
Pernotto ends this tantrum with another lesson in obtuseness by stating that standing for the national anthem “show’s [sic] respect to the history of pro football [whose history is racist; plus, why does the history football deserve respect and not, say, the history of Broadway plays?], to the very tenets of our nation [which have yet to be fully afforded African-Americans] and to all those who have or continue to serve [which in spite of America’s continued racism and mistreatment of them, includes African-Americans veterans who have participated in every war this country has fought].
Sigh. Deflection/Derailment Tactic Numbers 1 (Red Herring) and 3 (Silence), ladies and gentlemen.