Some in the NFL will fight antisemitism, and some apparently won’t
On Sunday, amid a troubling spike in antisemitic comments from one specific high-profile public figure, Patriots owner Robert Kraft purchased commercial time during NFL games for a spot that speaks out against hate. In the five days since then, antisemitism has continued to be a topic in pro sports, thanks to one specific high-profile athlete.
The subject landed on the pro football radar screen last night because one specific former NFL player chimed in with tone-deaf at best commentary that confuses the concept of free speech with full and complete diplomatic immunity.
In lieu of naming names, since that would either give them what they want or invite accusations of an effort to “cancel” them, we’ll focus instead on those in the NFL who are using sports to send positive and non-harmful messages to society at a time when our society needs as many positive and non-harmful messages as it can get.
On Monday, for example, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft explained publicly the decision to fund advertisements aimed at ending hate and building bridges.
Appearing on WBZ-FM (via Sports Business Journal), Jonathan Kraft said that his family has “always tried to use the platform” to “call out hate and inequality where we see it.” He pointed out that the Patriots were the first team to support same-sex marriage, and that they have spent significant time on addressing the “issues around the structural racism in our country, specifically as it relates to the criminal justice system.”
Jonathan Kraft explained that the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism was “something we started three years ago just with all the rise of antisemitism online and people not really understanding what that word even means and to call it out and try to explain that this is just like any form of unadulterated hate.” The family decided, given the recent discourse regarding antisemitism, that it would be “nice to see the country galvanizing around it and this would be a way to continue the conversation.”
Also, Robert Kraft pointed out to Peter King of Football Morning in America that Jewish people make up only 2.2 percent of America’s population, “and we get 57 percent of the hate crimes in America.”
“It’s rising,” Robert Kraft told King. “In the late thirties and forties, what was going on in Germany is going on now in America. The Kanye West thing has brought it to a head. Doing this ad was a way to make non-Jewish people understand what’s happening. We need all people, not just Jews, to speak out. . . . I hope that people who aren’t Jewish understand it’s in their interests, in all of our interests, to preserve the basic values of our country.”
That’s what it comes down to. The basic values of our country. And while freedom of speech is one of our basic values, hatred of others based on race, religion, and other inherent factors that make us different from each other is not a basic value. It is a basic stain.
And while that stain may be even more stubborn than cabernet on cashmere, we need to be aware of the red dot -- otherwise, it will grow and spread and eventually take over.