“Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
The words are those of the late writer and social activist James Baldwin. When tweeted by football player Colin Kaepernick the other day to mark Baldwin’s birthdate, you had to wonder who Kaepernick had in mind.
Was it the 32 owners of NFL teams who have conspired (my word, certainly not theirs) to keep Kaepernick out of football? Or, was the former San Francisco 49ers star aiming higher, perhaps all the way to the White House?
Kaepernick’s tweet came after the Baltimore Ravens owner, Steve Bisciotti, asked fans to “pray for us” as the team’s coaches dared to even consider signing the controversial quarterback. Kaepernick is blacklisted because, as a 49er, he joined a movement against police brutality by once showing up at practice wearing socks with a cartoon that depicted cops as pigs and, more publicly, by taking a knee at games during the National Anthem.
The fact that several other players joined Kaepernick doesn’t seem to matter. Nor does the fact that NFL owners have eagerly hired various wife-beaters, bar-brawlers, gun-toters and drug-abusers. NFL owners have proved repeatedly that they are both ignorant and powerful.
The same day, on a larger and far more important stage, the Trump Administration revealed its xenophobic plans to sharply reduce legal immigration. Trump would cut the number of immigrants in half under a proposed system that discriminates based upon age, ability to speak English, and earning power.
It is the complete antithesis of America’s founding principles.
This from a president who has already sought to bar visitors from Muslim-majority countries, and slammed the door on many refugees from war-torn regions. This from a man who campaigned against illegal immigration while insisting that he supported the legal pathway that has for decades created our nation’s diverse social fabric.
Trump’s proposed changes to immigration law are touted as a way to protect the jobs of low-income Americans. In fact, most economists say that is nonsense. Moreover, industries such as agriculture and tourism would suffer greatly under Trump’s plan.
Trump, the wealthy career businessman, is trying to operate government much as the NFL owners he so admires run their teams. Play to the base -- which is to say, the fans. Bar those who are different -- not just in appearance, but in terms of culture, politics and style.
In the words of James Baldwin, “The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.”
Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.