Anger at Kneeling Dolphins Protesters Linked to Racism, New Study Shows
Photo by George Martinez

Anger at Kneeling Dolphins Protesters Linked to Racism, New Study Shows

Last September, four Miami Dolphins players joined San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the National Anthem to raise awareness about police brutality and black inequality. And like clockwork, a whole host of critics got irrationally upset about a few people peacefully protesting for civil rights without hurting anybody. The Miami Herald's Armando Salguero opined, "Christians don't take knees on Sunday in protest"; supermodel Kate Upton wrote an extremely long post about the Dolphins; and the police union representing the Broward County Sheriff's Office tried to get cops to stop providing security at Dolphins games.

Black-rights activists called the response racist and offensive. And now science backs up that claim: A study released today shows a clear link between people who don't like African-Americans and people who don't like when football players kneel during the National Anthem.

According to new data from three University of Massachusetts researchers, who provided their info to the Washington Post today, white people who believe negative stereotypes about black Americans are much more likely to get angry when athletes kneel during the National Anthem, compared to whites who have positive views of blacks.

"Racial attitudes had a notable relationship to white opposition to athletes’ protests," the researchers wrote.

To compile their data, the researchers conducted a "nationally representative" online poll of 2,000 people in October 2016. They asked:

Recently, a number of professional athletes have protested the treatment of African Americans by not standing during the singing of the national anthem. Do you support the right of these athletes to kneel during the singing of the national anthem?

Only 34 percent of respondents said they supported the athletes. But the answers differed significantly when broken down by race: 61 percent of black respondents said they supported the football players, while just 28 percent of whites did.

The researchers then asked respondents how they felt about different stereotypes of black people. For example, they asked survey respondents if they thought African-Americans were "lazy," "unintelligent," or "violent," and then asked how those participants also felt about white people. (The researchers also asked about political affiliation, age, gender, and a host of other factors in order to be sure opposition to protesting wasn't tied to any other factors instead.)

And in results that should surprise nobody, the team found that anti-black attitudes and anti-protest attitudes are deeply related.

The study confirms claims from Black Lives Matter activists and also helps explain some of the irrationally scolding, angry responses the four Dolphins players — running back Arian Foster, wide receiver Kenny Stills, linebacker Jelani Jenkins, and defensive back Michael Thomas — received after simply kneeling silently for a few minutes. (For what it's worth, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said he supported the protest.)

Salguero, the Herald columnist, stressed to New Times last year that his comment about "Christians" was made in response to something Foster said, not the protest in general. But that doesn't explain Salguero's needlessly angry column published the same day, in which he scolded the teammates like toddlers for "disrespecting the flag."

You cannot have it both ways when things get uncomfortable. And spare me acting out a protest and then telling me it’s just a way to raise awareness and had nothing to do with the flag you were disrespecting.

There is contradiction in disrespecting the anthem and then calling oneself patriotic.

There is contradiction in saying you are part of a team, part of one heartbeat, and then doing something so completely different from the majority of your teammates that you seem separate and apart from your team.

The four players who kneeled for their cause would obviously disagree with me that what they did was a show of disrespect.

(We'll spare you the rest of the column, which is mostly rambling nonsense directed at black athletes, masked in an unintelligible point about how the protest showed a lack of "teamwork.")

We've reached out to Salguero for comment on the new study.

The findings also raise new questions about the motivations of South Florida's police community, which responded with little but bile after the athletes took a knee. After the protest, Jeffrey Bell, who heads the Broward County Sherff's Office Deputies Association, issued a long statement castigating the players for, again, "disrespecting the flag."

With this said, I can not fathom why the Miami Dolphin organization and the NFL would allow the blatant disrespect of the American Flag and what it stands for during the national anthem. It is a privilege to play in the NFL, not a given constitutional right. The Miami Dolphin players, staff and family members enjoy full police escorts from the Broward Sheriff’s Office on a regular basis. These escorts often involve putting the men and women of law enforcement agencies at risk as they block intersections during peak traffic times in order to expedite the travel time between facilities.

We have buried coworkers who have unnecessarily lost their lives protecting the lives of individuals. Some law enforcement officers even lost their lives while protecting the lives of the very same individuals who were protesting against law enforcement. The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association Local 6020 is seeking the immediate termination of all Miami Dolphin escorts until such time the Miami Dolphins and the National Football League set forth a policy that will not tolerate the disrespect of the American Flag and National Anthem during any sanctioned games or events.

In another unsurprising move, Javier Ortiz, the Miami Police union president, tweeted he agreed with BSO:

For the record, the protesting Dolphins did more than just kneel in solidarity with Black Lives Matter activists: They also held a town-hall meeting with community leaders, team employees, and local cops to discuss civil rights.

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