Letter to the editor: Making sense of the protests

Letter to editor

If I see one more mesomorph stuffed into a sports uniform kneeling, head bowed and holding hands with his teammates, I’m going to start protesting …the games!  I mean, if they want to protest flags and songs they should protest the nazi flag, and maybe a Barry Manilow song.  (Just kidding, Barry). 

I hope they all protest the Las Vegas shooting at the games next Sunday.

I think the tweeting and kneeling by these multimillion dollar sports prima donnas is lazy inaction.  They do not represent all of America or all of the black community.  Their token actions foreshadow the real problem of racial inequality and mistreatment of blacks, and just exacerbates the situation dividing us further apart and discrediting America as a nation of supposedly diverse, free individuals working together, while letting the real culprits hide behind the flag and national anthem.

Here’s how to protest …you DO something!

In 1975 Bob Dylan and mass media communication maestro George Lois teamed up to help a black man in trouble.  Dylan wrote a song about it, ‘Hurricane’.  Professional boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was convicted and imprisoned for murder.  The only problem is he didn’t do it.  He was wrongly accused and convicted on circumstantial evidence.  

To garner public opinion and drive Carter’s defense appeal, Lois organized a rally in Madison Square Garden.  George Lois is the original “Mad Man” of Madison Avenue.  http://www.georgelois.com/  Lois is an American icon, an art director, famous for his role in the advertising industry’s “creative revolution” and his relationships with politicians, movie stars, and high profile sports figures like Muhammad Ali, a man who knew how to articulate a protest, all of whom he has used in much of his popular culture art and advertising work.  Lois is a force majeure with an innate, incorruptible sense of fairness, especially, regarding social justice, racial equality and human rights, and I’m sure he would back the NFL and NBA protesters, or anyone, defending their right to express their beliefs.     

His long time friend, Bob Dylan, joined the cause because Dylan is also a celebrated champion of social justice.  Dylan will be performing here in Utah at the Eccles Center for Performing Arts October 17 & 18http://bobdylan.com/on-tour/

The result of these actions by Lois, Dylan, and many others was the release of Carter through a petition of habeas corpus and subsequently enacted by the courts.  But only after Carter’s wrongful imprisonment, and after he had spent 20 years in jail.  Carter died in 2014 at age 76 from prostate cancer.

These men, Lois, Dylan, understood both the overall big picture problem of race inequality in America, and in a more focused way, in Rubin Carter’s specific problem which symbolized that social injustice.  There is only so much you can do to address the general problem which is fueled by human nature at it’s core.  You can protest, write songs, produce public service commercials, dialogue until you choke on your own words.  You can even pass legislation.  But it is difficult to buck human nature and change the thinking of people with evil in their hearts.

But given a specific problem, matched with creative, intelligent, concerned individuals to solve the problem, it gets solved.  But more important, it sets a precedent applied toward the overall situation.  And this is exactly what George Lois, Bob Dylan, and other like minds did.  

I am concerned that the protests today by our prodigious sports heros may be hurting their own cause.  They’re just protesting ..something ..unclear.  America?  I don’t see any specifics or any specific action.  They are lazily tweeting, kneeling, holding hands, bowing heads, mumbling, some mindlessly and unintelligible, in front of the television cameras in a national venue, all just for the sake of protesting, thinking they are doing their part, thinking they are helping to making the problem go away. 

When people like Bob “point-the-camera-at-me” Costas join in the fun promoting the sports protests in a effort to create a “continued dialogue”, it makes me think this is just a media circus starring every egotistical has-been, will-be, and wannabe looking for some press and “continued dialogue” television face time.  No matter how sincere they may be, or how just the cause, they may be hurting as many people as they think they are helping.

If they really want to help, they should go to Hollywood and protest to the movie studios, demand, they stop portraying young black men as pimps and drug dealers with gold teeth, gold chains, and silver plated shoot-‘em-up 45’s.  Or donate substantial portions of their salaries to specific affected black communities.  Get some skin in the game.  Get serious.  Maybe instead of kneeling for the national anthem Colin Kaepernick could have dedicated every touchdown pass to the memory of a black kid shot on the street by a white police officer.  

The kneeling, tweeting, bowed heads and locked arms protests are foolish and divisive.  What?, they don’t like America ..the national song ..the guy selling hot dogs in the stands ..?  They are confusing a lot of kids and pissing off a lot of people.          

A season ticket holder Pittsburgh Steeler fan says he will not go to any more games, try to get a refund on his ticket, and watch the games on television, rather than have to suffer through this new national anthem debacle.  The guy works hard all week long and just wants to watch his beloved Steelers play ball.  

A long time NFL player who has played for four different teams in his career says that all NFL players sign a contract stipulating proper conduct on and off the field, among other things, and also that they will respect the flag and the national anthem at the beginning of the games.  He admitted that it is not enforced. 

My concern is that no one is acting to actually solve the problem as George Lois and Bob Dylan did, they are just creating controversy, confusion, and more convoluted dialogue toward solving a problem that no one has ever managed to solve, and probably never will.  

Dr. Martin Luther King had the right ideas toward action oriented protests, so did Rosa Parks.  So did George Lois and Bob Dylan focusing their celebrity and talents to solve a very specific related problem.  They did their jobs well and moved forward, gained yards, made progress.  Touch down.  

It’s a hard fought war one battle at a time, but to make matters so much worse, we have a president who continually throws napalm on every problem issue that crosses his desk, runs through his mind, and exits his mouth.

Racial equality and human rights are to be protected and defended.  Period.  George Lois and Bob Dylan knew it then and they know it now.  I want to see that kind of action now, not tweets and kneeling.  America is not hurting the blacks and disrespecting their human rights, people are, bad people, confused and uninformed people.  Let’s address them, individually, one at time, not antagonize half of America that just wants to watch a football or basketball game to relieve the tensions and problems in their own daily lives, and not add to them.   And what about baseball?  World Series comin’ up.  National anthem?

There is a time and place for kneeling and holding hands toward a “continued dialogue”,  and there’s a time and place to play ball.    

Let’s play ball.

— John Kushma is a communication consultant and lives in Logan, Utah.


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  1. Edward Lozzi

    Rubin Carter Wrongly Convicted?? No Way ! He is falsely portrayed as a victim of racism in his fabricated book and film Hurricane by the creation of a fictitious N.J. Detective who is portrayed as a vicious racist. It never happened. Rubin Carter is a two time convicted murderer, convicted batterer, attempted murderer, and dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army for committing felonies. His boxing record was only 7 + 7 his last year, hardly a champion. He was never found innocent of murder. Very important. Never found innocent. After the 2nd conviction for murder (by a mixed race jury and prosecution), and his arrest for beating an assistant half to death, celebrities Bob Dylan and Mohammad Ali dropped him like a hot potato.

    A extremely liberal Federal judge decided to release this monster after almost 25 years of well deserved prison- on a mere technicality. Not for being innocent of murders. He is still recorded as a murderer. His record was not expunged! Carter had everything to win by lying. The film Hurricane, based on Carter’s own book of lies, wrongly shows none of these facts. Victims of Rubin Carter, still alive today sued Universal pictures and now a screen notice admits that the film is only “based” on Carter’s story and not actual facts.

    Many African Americans feel that this is all about racism, especially if they read Carter’s racist book and then see the outrageous and stirring lies in this movie. In fact, the juries and trials were mixed race. The facts of this case and the facts about the real murderer Rubin Carter are at http://www.graphicwitness.com/carter This site was set up by the actual court reporters who covered the trial in the courtroom.

    Rubin Carter made a living in a disturbing world of hypocrisy by having disingenuous seminars and book signings. He continued to bamboozle editors with his inaccurate press releases. He was actually a man who stood over a pleading grandmother and pumped her with shotgun shells then turned on others until the bullets ran out- killing three.

    Edward Lozzi, Friends of The Victims of Rubin Carter Los Angeles New Jersey
    Friends of the Victims of Rubin Carter
    Los Angeles + New Jersey

  2. John Kushma

    Mr. Lozzi,

    Thank you for this opportunity to clarify the point of my letter regarding the recent NFL protests. The Rubin Carter reference was just to show how a proactive approach to protesting works better than an inactive one. The personal truth about Rubin Carter is what it is, and so is the public perception, but at this point it’s either reconciled or not between him and his maker. You may be right, he may have been a dicey character, no role model for kids or America.

    My point about the football protestors is precisely that. Many of them have been accused and convicted of violent crimes against their own people ..abused their wives, girlfriends, children ..drugs, guns ..the hypocrisy is overwhelming. They are a disgrace to their uniforms, their team, the NFL and America. They are hardly role models. Yet there they are, brothers in the most violent sport on earth, kneeling, locking arms, heads bowed, weeping for America and the wrongs America has espoused.

    Maybe the kneeling players should be protesting some of their own for their digressions, and the victims whose lives they have affected, and the poor role model they have projected for America and American youth.

    It’s a double edged sword to say the least. So, maybe the best way is to just play football on Sunday and leave the weeping, kneeling and tweeting for the rest of the week.

    John Kushma

    • John Kushma

      Mr. Lozzi,

      Thank you for this opportunity to clarify the point of my letter regarding the recent NFL protests. The Rubin Carter reference was just to show how a proactive approach to protesting works better than an inactive one. The personal truth about Rubin Carter is what it is, and so is the public perception, but at this point it’s either reconciled or not between him and his maker. You may be right, he may have been a dicey character, no role model for kids or America.

      My point about the football protestors is precisely that. Many of them have been accused and convicted of violent crimes against their own people ..abused their wives, girlfriends, children ..drugs, guns ..the hypocrisy is overwhelming. They are a disgrace to their uniforms, their team, the NFL and America. They are hardly role models. Yet there they are, brothers in the most violent sport on earth, kneeling, locking arms, heads bowed, weeping for America and the wrongs America has espoused.

      Maybe the kneeling players should be protesting some of their own for their digressions, and the victims whose lives they have affected, and the poor role model they have projected for America and American youth.

      It’s a double edged sword to say the least. So, maybe the best way is to just play football on Sunday and leave the weeping, kneeling and tweeting for the rest of the week.

      John Kushma


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