Gordon Monson: Burgess Owens misunderstands American athletes who seek a better America

Criticizing one’s country for its shortcomings is not the same as loathing it

(Screenshot | YouTube) Utah Rep. Burgess Owens speaks during a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee meeting. California Rep. Hakeem Jeffries attacked Owens over his vote to overturn the 2020 election in favor of Donald Trump.

It’s amazing to some — and it shouldn’t be, considering the blindness of others who for whatever reason cannot find their way to seeing the real meaning behind the action — that there are still people who don’t grasp what’s actually happening when athletes don’t stand and salute or hold their hand over their heart during the playing of the national anthem before a football or basketball game, or any kind of game.

There was a time long ago when I didn’t understand it, either. But enlightenment eventually came. Awareness arrived.

By now, though, it’s tired and lazy when that comprehension fails, accusers so easily categorizing those with genuine and legitimate concerns, people of all races and ethnicities, regarding the way some Black Americans, too many, are treated, have been treated, mistreated, in one way or another currently and for hundreds of years in this country.

Just because some Americans seek a way to draw attention to that need for recognition, for adjustment, for change, for a better way of treating people of all colors and, in this case, Black Americans, doesn’t mean they don’t love the United States of America. Maybe they love it just as much as anyone else, maybe more.

Those who do want justice, not injustice.

They want correction, not insurrection.

It’s remarkable that people — Black and white — who seek improvement inside our nation, improvement for all, are often accused of being unpatriotic and, even worse, some kind of ingrate, some kind of threat.

This is part of what Burgess Owens, a man who represents the state of Utah in Congress, said during a recent Judiciary Committee meeting, questioning the patriotism of Democrats who viewed things a bit differently than he does as it pertains to requiring the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited before those meetings.

He was reflecting back on his time as an NFL player, when he said:

“We have guys making $50 million today” who will “not stand for the flag because they’ve been taught by their adults not to love our nation.”

That assessment is damaging enough coming from a dude down at the bar who’s knocked back a fistful of Buds, talking sports with his buddies, it’s even more unfortunate coming from a congressman arguing with his non-buddies at the Capitol.

First, the fact that athletes make a lot of money in this blessed land is nothing more or less than the American Way — work hard, stay determined, fulfill potential, get to the top of your profession, fulfill your dreams.

Second, the fact that athletes who make a lot of money in this blessed land do so without forgetting where they came from and the people they knew and know of before and after their own climb is nothing but admirable.

Third, the fact that they don’t stand for the anthem, as mentioned, has nothing to do with not loving our nation, rather it has to do with looking at what’s true in our nation, what’s been true for a long, long time, a major fault that needs fixing, and wanting to draw attention to it.

Especially when there are tragedies involved, when the injustice comes from individuals who are meant to keep the peace.

That doesn’t mean the country is to be hated or unloved. It means the country, a fantastic country that can be loved and admired and appreciated, has some serious issues that have not yet been overcome.

Just because a group of people criticize something doesn’t mean that something is loathed.

Fourth, as for being “taught by their adults,” where did those adults find their perspective? From experience, you think? From “their adults” before them and their experience? From those adults before those adults and their experience, all the way back through the years into adults who suffered under the cruel aspects of legalized slavery?

Look, I know Burgess Owens is Black and that I am not.

He has his ideas, I have mine.

But those athletes on the field making $50 million and some who make far less have their ideas, too. And to suggest that they’ve been brainwashed into believing things that are fictitious and that if they have major concerns about certain aspects of what happens inside their country, that they do not love it, is ridiculous.

Labeling them and their positions as anything other than well-thought-out, categorizing them as monolithic-non-thinking America-haters is sleepy, at best, and willfully, deceitfully disingenuous, at worst.

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.