The Razorback women’s basketball team will all stand for the National Anthem for the remainder of the season, the Traveler student newspaper reports.
Six players kneeled before an exhibition game to display solidarity with national demonstrations about police use of force against black people. It triggered a fearsome public outcry that has ranged from simple disagreement, to abusive comments to legislative threats of financial retribution against the university.
It seems clear that the angry outcry (at a time of tight money) pushed an effort to find an alternative outlet for symbolism. Chancellor Joe Steinmetz has announced a program on campus to talk about such issues. The Razorback players say they will join Project Unity to “engage members of the community and law enforcement, to strengthen mutual trust, respect and understanding,” according to a press release sent out by the athletic department.
The players have emphasized they meant no disrespect to the military or the US of A. Of course they didn’t. It’s only the demagogues and haters who try to turn difference of opinion into a slam on troops. The last refuge of scoundrels has always been false patriotism. The National Anthem is about more than troops.
“As I stated last week, we took a knee to bring awareness to the social injustice that we recognize in our society,” sophomore guard Jordan Danberry said in the release. “It was not our intention to disrespect the flag or the military. We have heard from many of our fans, and we wanted to repeat that we have great respect for our military and our veterans who have served our country.”
When this was announced yesterday, neither players nor Coach Jimmy Dykes, who’s been supportive of them, took questions. Nobody dares stray from the established talking point and risk riling Trumpansas.
As I’ve said previously, no matter what the bullies who’ve now silenced them think, the Razorback Anthem women won. They captured national attention. The university (including a coach and athletic director) defended the First Amendment and expressed some understanding of the honest feelings that motivated the women. Maybe, just maybe, a few people might have been enlightened a bit about what it feels like to walk in the tennis shoes of a young black woman.