August 14, 2022

The Problem with ‘Pick a Knee’

‘Pick a knee,” says CNN’s S. E. Cupp, “The one that knelt on a neck or the one that knelt to try to prevent it.” This kind of ugly false choice — either you adopt my favored form of political protest or you support murder! — is meant to bully you into participating in groupthink. Worse, it’s meant to shame the target of Cupp’s exhortation into taking ownership of racism, an evil that may have nothing to do with him.

I find the abuse of black civilians — or, though this is apparently a provocation, any civilians — by the police abhorrent. More than any other group in American life, cops, empowered by the state to use force, have special responsibility to protect life and adhere to the law. But I am no more liable for the actions of Derek Chauvin than is S. E. Cupp or Al Sharpton. I have nothing to confess. The color of my skin is not an indictment of my morality, nor does it strip me of my agency.

If senators want to kneel for nine minutes as an act of contrition, that’s their choice. It is my choice to be embarrassed for them. There is a yawning difference between having a desire to fix the wrongs of the past and taking responsibility for them. Kneeling in front of your fellow citizens in cult-like displays of self-flagellation, the kind we saw in Bethesda and North Carolina, where white people begged for absolution while washing the feet of their black neighbors, is antithetical to the egalitarian ideals we should be striving to achieve.

Most Americans have historical grievances, or we wouldn’t be here in the first place. My ancestors were probably boiling leather to survive under Russian monarchs — their progeny sent to death camps under fascism and their children forced to live under the tedious tyranny of communism. They came here to stop kneeling. It’s true that immigrants also have an obligation to assume the legacy and historical responsibilities of their new country. They do so by swearing to uphold the ideals of the Constitution. Why would we demand that anyone answer for the legacy of Jefferson Davis or the 17th-century slave-trader when we can ask them to celebrate the legacy of John Adams, Abraham Lincoln and the Union private fighting in Antietam to fix the mistakes of the founders? (Then again, even if you’re a direct descendent of General Robert E. Lee, you only need beg forgiveness for your own sins.)

If you have policy ideas that will make life better in African American communities that have been left behind in this country, let’s talk about it. Let’s end qualified immunity. Let’s end the drug war. Let’s end mandatory minimums. Let’s end the power of police unions that protect the worst offenders and teachers’ unions that keep poor black kids in failing schools. Let’s find ways to create more economic opportunities. We can do all of that without condemning our country as fundamentally unjust.

Protest in any peaceful way you like, but some of us see no reason to disrespect the flag, either. Though it’s now largely memory-holed, the original reason Colin Kaepernick — who once wore socks depicting cops as “pigs” and defended Fidel Castro — took a knee was this: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Kneeling may have evolved into a more solemn act, but Kaepernick’s protest was not conceived as an act of respect. Nor do cable news hosts have the moral authority to define it. Kneeling is a tacit admission to a number of contentions that I simply don’t believe: I don’t believe that the United States, a nation conceived and run by flawed human beings, is inherently racist. I don’t believe there is institutional racism in America anymore or that the police, as a matter of policy, are hunting down black men. Murder like that of George Floyd is a rare event. Chauvin was charged with murder, as were his accessories. There is not a single politician in the country who excused what happened.

But the definition of racism is always expanding. Now anyone who disagrees with the political aspirations of Black Lives Matter and its supporters — champions of a hodgepodge of leftist causes — can be accused of being a bigot. Well, most Americans want to find ways to improve everyone’s lot, even if they have different ideas about how to accomplish it. Perhaps those of us who don’t kneel are mistaken in that belief, and perhaps more facts and arguments will change our minds. Smearing us as racists for refusing to engage in mass acts of performative contrition will not.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review and the author of the book “First Freedom: A Ride Through America’s Enduring History With the Gun.” To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at


Last Updated: Thursday, Jun 11, 2020 16:37:48 -0700

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
0 0 votes
Article Rating

This is a demo advert, you can use simple text, HTML image or any Ad Service JavaScript code. If you're inserting HTML or JS code make sure editor is switched to 'Text' mode.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Penny (@guest_1008277)
2 years ago

It’s time ALL black and white start acting like adults instead of spoiled brats enough blame ti go around
Sad one man lost his life yet no one cares if the lives that have been lost since and businesss ruined all out of stupidity and hatred! What has been accomplished not
One darn thing just more hate

S.L. (@guest_1008341)
Reply to  Penny
2 years ago

Well said Penny.

Sharon brooks (@guest_1008397)
Reply to  S.L.
2 years ago

I agree.

Ravagedeep (@guest_1008344)
Reply to  Penny
2 years ago

You put it simple and to the point. Hatred in our society has become propaganda for elite one percent. They will fuel the fires of rage with deceptions of diplomacy, causing a devided America. We must overcome these lies that focus dividety in our country. These communist elite are waiting for the moment to down fall America’s infrastructure and decree marshal law. The actions of hate blinded rage are edging our country closer to instability. It’s time to wake up and see the bigger picture. If this doesn’t desist, and calm isn’t restored, were going to face even bigger problems of agresive force and violence. This time many more lives will be lost and more people will subdue to the crash of our economy, leaving families with children homeless and hungry. Stop being so PC and let go of the past so we can heal our country and move forward to grander times our children will be proud of.

Joanna (@guest_1008578)
Reply to  Penny
2 years ago

Good post Penny!!! Common sense works!!!!!

SGT Preston (@guest_1010668)
Reply to  Penny
2 years ago

Well spoken Penny, and so appropriate.

Just spokane!! (@guest_1010916)
Reply to  Penny
2 years ago

So right, besides its the old souls that keep harping on the pass while our young is doing their best to move on and live the life our Lord God had planned in the beginning! If we don’t learn what He is trying to teach all of us as one , his children then non of us will make it. For we all are His not one or some!!

Mel (@guest_1008286)
2 years ago

great article

Ravagedeep (@guest_1008288)
2 years ago

How can you downplay and degrade absolute truth of the fundamentals Black Lives Matter have displayed? If anything they’re promoting oppression of one race by pushing to achieve superiority of another. Divide and conquer attitude shaped agenda. An forced reporations of white Americans is a form of extortion. Biased as it seems, most white Americans don’t have any ancestry to the slave owners of the past. Most families were migrants seeking a better life for the oppression of tyranny and communism. Placing blame on one culture in society, is blasphemous of the goal you striving to reach. Hypocrisy and the double standards displayed should prove case and point, that you’re muting your own voices with violence and anger, the key elements of hatred. So before you go judging the actions of an oppinionated concern, that in truth, is revealing of the real agenda set forth and witness to the actions being louder than the protest, describe an altered truth to the means. Unregretfully and without guilt, I’m keen to speak for every living being and creature in this beautiful breathing bubble, all lives no matter our size are valuable and are the miricale gif of God. So, I respect your right to protest the horrible treatment of life by the people in authority, and will stand and voice my outrage and concern with the people of America. I won’t however do it by the present terms you deem aceptible. You’re doing the very same thing your standing against. Therefore hypocrisy is the message presented to the people of your, our country. Two wrongs inevitably makes things worse. So, satire isn’t the question here. Reality of your actions are in question.

Bobby Sexton (@guest_1008328)
2 years ago

No matter what you say ALL LIVES MATTER. I grew up with reverse
discrimition. I’ve lived it. I spent 10 1/2 years in the military. The reason i didn’t retire was reverse
discrimination. I kneel to only GOD and JESUS CHRISt. This problem isn’t black and white . This problem is really about honesty.
Democratics fear the truth, they
Really want to be socialist. Why
Can’t they admit it. Look at theie
rhetoric and hate of conservatism.
With this truth being known they
don’t want honest elections.

Mary Grace Farrell (@guest_1008347)
2 years ago

Thank you for a literate piece on the view of the every day American voice

phxgeo (@guest_1008355)
2 years ago

Obviously only certain black lives matter and that is when it is taken by a white police officer. I have been scratching my head for the last 6 years ever since August 2014 when Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, MO. as to when I have heard anything about the black lives mattering when blacks are killed or wounded in Chicago, Detroit, LA Baltimore, NYC or DC by other blacks. Can anyone please help me find any reference regarding these situations. I guess those lives are expendable or disposable. What a disgusting despicable betrayal by black leaders and loony liberal democrats. The media is equally culpable in covering up this injustice and betrayal.

Reggie (@guest_1008371)
2 years ago

Stop voting democrat

Karen Villasenor (@guest_1008374)
2 years ago

Murder of any person is WRONG! It was a horrible thing to watch!!! Police officers allowed it to happen while another one MURDERD George Floyd!!!

However, we MUST keep those emotions in check and STOP FURTHER DESTRUCTION!!! This is not something that ANYONE CAN REPAIR!

We are SO SAD for George Floyd and his family! I have grieved!

We cannot destroy our country or hurt those who work HARD and BARELY MAKE IT!

We and others had nothing to do with this insane situation! Please do not hurt another person!!!!

Barry.w.vann (@guest_1009255)
2 years ago

If Floyd and Brooks wouldn’t have been resisting arrest and obeyed the law, they would be alive today. The bottom line is….the majority of black people don’t want any law and the majority of the white people are scared of them. Grow some balls America and get rid of these terrorists once and for all!

Barry.w.vann (@guest_1009257)
2 years ago

Can you imagine what America would look like if we had no law and blm was in charge!? The whole country would look like the 6 blocks in Seattle does right now. Looks like the only thing that is going to get this country back on track is a civil war……so let’s get rid off the terrorists and communists( antifa and blm) !!!

Susan (@guest_1009324)
2 years ago

If you look all the way to the “top” of BLM you’ll find convicted terrorist Bill Ayers. He’s an old white guy “boomer” (literally) from the Weather Underground. (Google him)The next layer of “Operatives”under him are white, middle class, “college educated” (I use that term loosely) mostly feminist women who are seeking social upheaval, & wanting to be”a part of history” since “Occupy”, “Fight for 15” and “Ferguson” all failed. And their main motive is to “make things better for themselves”. It’s a den of inequity, and every body that contributes to their “cause” knows it. And it has turned in to a Hate Donald Trump anarchist movement. The radical-left wants a race war and they’re on the verge of starting it.

Susan (@guest_1009326)
2 years ago

If you look all the way to the “top” of BLM you’ll find convicted terrorist Bill Ayers. He’s an old white guy “boomer” (literally) from the Weather Underground. (Google him)The next layer of “Operatives”under him are white, middle class, “college educated” (I use that term loosely) mostly feminist women who are seeking social upheaval, & wanting to be”a part of history” since “Occupy”, “Fight for 15” and “Ferguson” all failed. And their main motive is to “make things better for themselves”. It’s a den of inequity, and every body that contributes to their “cause” knows it. And it has turned in to a Hate Donald Trump anarchist movement. The radical-left wants a race war and they’re on the verge of starting it.

Barry w vann (@guest_1009774)
2 years ago

If the radical left wants a race war….by all means let’s give it to them!!!!



Sign Up For The Daily Newsletter


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x