Jeneé Osterheldt

‘Tar and feather them’: Marcus Peters’ anthem protests bring out the hate — and love

These NFL players protested the national anthem in Week 1

Colin Kaepernick started the movement to sit out the national anthem last year as a way to protest racism and inequality. For their first games this season, several more NFL players followed his lead.
Up Next
Colin Kaepernick started the movement to sit out the national anthem last year as a way to protest racism and inequality. For their first games this season, several more NFL players followed his lead.

“You are exactly why tall trees and ropes were made,” Jeff from Montana wrote to me, and then he called me a “nigger loving idiot.”

Jeff thinks that because I wrote a column in defense of the Chiefs’ Marcus Peters and national anthem protests, I deserve to be lynched. I’d like to dismiss him as a cowardly troll. But he boldly signed his first and last name (which I am not revealing here). He wanted me to know where he lives. And before you discount this as a non-issue, know lynching is not a thing of the past.

Last month, an 8-year old boy who is biracial like me was hanged from a tree by white teens in New Hampshire. He survived, but police are protecting the perpetrators — “Mistakes they make as a young child should not have to follow them for the rest of their life,” Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase said. But it’s fine that their terror will forever haunt the little boy they teased for being black and then lynched.

A look at the more than 1,000 public comments on The Star’s Facebook page in response to my column shows a lot of folk can’t fathom the humanity of brown and black people. I was called a baboon, a knuckle-dragger and all manner of slurs. See for yourself the hate dividing our country:

“Tar and feather them,” Jim Stanley wrote.

From Kristina Coughlan: “It’s 2017. If you don’t like America, leave. You can emigrate anywhere else these days. Half of Africa just shows-up in Europe. Trump should start a ‘Return to Your Roots’ fund in which we pay niggers and shi*libs to leave the US. It would be worth every penny and we’d recoup the money on prison costs alone.”

And Jim Daykin posted his solution: “There’s 38 million blacks in the US. A Boeing 777 has about 350 seats. So, to take them back to Africa — that’s about 109,000 flights. It would cost about $600 a passenger or $210,000 a plane. That’s a total of $23 billion, which is nothing. The US military budget is $500 billion a year and we spend $75 billion a year to run a prison system, in which blacks are a third of all inmates. So, this would pay for itself in a year.”

Josh Hall is with the good ol’ boys, writing “I mean if these uppity blacks would just know their place and do as the white people tell them everything would be peaceful.”

But humanitarians still exist:

People like Brian, a multiracial commander who wrote me and said, “As a military officer, I swore an oath, and I respect our country and our flag. That being said, seeing the injustice and, frankly, the racism is disturbing and at times discouraging for me. I am a minority myself … so it’s hard for me to justify defending the injustices taking place on a daily basis. Seeing the players sit, kneel, raise fists, or any combination of the three doesn’t bother me in any way, shape, or form; rather, it inspires me to keep defending their right to protest.”

Jean Ellen Mynatt Oltvedt posted: “These men are Americans too and have as much right to protest the treatment of people, particularly their own, as anyone else. These are nonviolent protests as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. requested of us. I’m proud to support them in their quest for true equality! They are truly embracing the American way! I feel sorry for those who don’t or won’t understand this.”

And Leah Armstrong Anderson understands you can protest and still respect the military: “I read so many comments equating the flag with the military. The flag represents our country, INCLUDING the military and the LGBTQ community and Muslims and immigrants and African Americans and everyone else who lives here under this flag. The military does not have a monopoly on the flag of the United States. It stands for freedom for all who live here, and there are some whose freedoms are being denied.”

This is why former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last year started kneeling during the national anthem. This is why Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters sits. This is not a show of disrespect to the military or the country. It’s a call to action to ensure our nation starts to live up to the promises of liberty, equality and justice instead of symbols, songs and pledges about them.

Jeneé Osterheldt: 816-234-4380, @jeneeinkc