Bill O’Reilly has a problem with Denver Broncos football player Brandon Marshall, who before the Thursday night season opener against the North Carolina Panthers, chose to take a knee for the national anthem. Marshall joins Colin Kaepernick, Jeremy Lane and Eric Reid in refusing to stand as a protest against social injustice.
Marshall said of his decision,
“The message is I’m against social injustice. I’m not against the military or police or America at all. I’m against social injustice and I feel like this was the right thing to do.
“I feel like this is the right platform. This is our only platform to really be heard. I feel like a lot of times people want us to just shut up and entertain them, shut up and play football. But we have voices as well. We’re actually educated individuals that went to college. So when we have an opinion and we speak it, I feel like a lot of people bash us for what we have to say.”
Watch O’Reilly’s rant courtesy of Media Matters for America:
Now, Mr. Marshall is an interesting study as far as being an American is concerned. Not a football player. An American. He was raised in Las Vegas. Had a violent father who went to prison. But he worked hard and succeeded in developing his football skills. Marshall received a scholarship, full scholarship from the University of Nevada. He went to college free. By the way, he was on the same team as Colin Kaepernick who started the national anthem disrespect. Anyway, Brandon Marshall has played well in the National Football League and recently signed a 32-million-dollar contract. So let’s put this in perspective. Poor kid, bad father, develops his god-given skills, is presented with an opportunity to attend college free of charge. Then becomes a professional football player, earning millions in our capitalistic system. Nowhere on Earth could Brandon Marshall have done that but America. Nowhere. To be fair, bad things do happen in this country, in every country, and they must be confronted. But to disrespect our entire system when you have reaped so much benefit from it is fallacious in the extreme. Brandon Marshall and others like him have an obligation to think about what they’re putting out there because some impressionable folks listen to them. Want to improve things? Good. Disrespecting the anthem, not good.
Bill O’Reilly presents a facade of reasonableness, but there is nothing reasonable about his thinking. According to O’Reilly, it is somehow okay for Donald Trump to use the system to his advantage to screw over everybody – and even brag about it – but Brandon Marshall, a product of a system that prioritizes college football, is somehow now owned by that system and has somehow given up his right to speak freely.
As O’Reilly admitted, Marshall is a talented football player. He worked hard at it and succeeded. That is the American way. Nothing was given him. He earned that scholarship. He did not surrender his free will as a result. The First Amendment still protects his right of free speech, just as it does Donald Trump’s.
The Broncos organization recognized in a statement that Brandon has the right to express himself, however they feel personally. That’s what free speech is about, after all, not just a right to speak if their opinions agree with your ideology:
“While we encourage members of our organization to stand during the National Anthem, we understand and respect it being a personal decision.”
The Fox News host talks about the benefits of our capitalist system. Well, the capitalist system is now exacting capitalist vengeance on the player. Less than 24 hours after the game, his sponsor, the Air Academy Federal Credit Union, announced it is severing its ties with Marshall.
The AAFCU said in a statement:
“AAFCU is a membership-based organization who has proudly served the military community for over 60 years. While we respect Brandon’s right of expression, his actions are not a representation of our organization and membership. We wish Brandon well on his future endeavors.”
That’s how our capitalist system works, like it or not. As Marshall pointed out, veterans don’t get a fair shake a fair shake either. And Marshall knew there would be consequences, speaking post game that, “I was like, hmm, they’re going to get on me. At the end of the day, I’m definitely good with my decision.”
It’s ironic, given Trump’s entire campaign being based on an attack against and rejection of the system. It’s okay for a rich white man to be a “rebel,” or at least pretend to be.
It is ridiculous for O’Reilly to assert is it okay for Trump to say a “system is rigged” but it’s not okay for Marshall to speak out against the system. All any American can do is speak their mind and take the consequences, and Marshall’s phone was already filling with hate as he knelt there on the field, exercising the rights and freedoms that flag represents.
O’Reilly apparently holds the capitalist system above the ideals of the United States Constitution, and in his shoddy efforts to shame Brandon Marshall in the name of the system, he succeeds only in shaming himself.
Screen Capture – NBC Sports
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.