Justin's note: It’s one of today’s most controversial topics. Everyone’s talking about it. Even Donald Trump’s getting up in arms over it…
I’m talking about the recent NFL protests.
I still can’t help but wonder if people should even care about this. So to make sense of this, I called up Doug Casey…who I knew would have an interesting take on this matter…
Justin: Doug, I can’t wait to get your take on the recent NFL protests. But first tell me what you think of the National Anthem. Is it a worthy tradition?
Doug: I don’t see what sporting events have to do with nationalism. I don’t think they should go together.
The idea of playing a national anthem at sporting events or other gatherings is foolish and dangerous. It elevates the notion of the state, it keeps the presence of the government in front of people. It’s almost as bad an idea as having kids pledge allegiance to the flag at the start of the school day—another fairly recent innovation.
I looked into the history of this, and the anthem apparently first started being played sporadically at baseball games, during World War 1. It only turned into a tradition during WW2. Needless to say, during the ’30s, the Germans, the Italians, and the Russians always used their anthems to get the crowd thinking in the mode of “nationalistic citizens” watching the home team battle the enemy team, as opposed to sports fans just out to watch a game and have a good time.
Playing the National Anthem before a game is a bad idea. But every country in the world does it now. I think the crowds generally dislike it as a distraction and a waste of time, but nobody will say anything for fear of being lambasted for being “unpatriotic.” It’s groupthink in action.
Apart from the fact that anthems all sound discordant, and grate against the ear drum. They’re all basically military music—which is itself a contradictory term. I’ll only except the Marseillaise—which really is a noble tune, but inappropriate for US audiences.
Ultimately, it’s up to the team and stadium owners. If they want to do it, that’s their business. But it’s become such a tradition that—especially in view of the US being constantly involved in a war somewhere—it’s likely going to be impossible to eradicate. It no longer matters that it’s a bad tradition—it’s now a tradition.
And let me go further. I think that it’s in very bad taste and negative influence for the US government and the US military to use football games for military display. Flying fighter planes around and having military bands marching, is much more what I’d expect of the Germans in the ’30s than an ostensibly peaceful country in today’s world.
That said, I think that it makes sense to show respect for things like the National Anthem. They’re part of the national ethos. Disrespecting them upsets a community at a very gut level; it’s unwise, like telling someone his mother is ugly and has low morals.
Justin: Are you saying NFL players shouldn’t protest by taking a knee?
Doug: Well, anybody has a right to do anything, as long as it doesn’t aggress against other persons or their property. But just because something is legal and moral doesn’t mean it can’t also be stupid.
I’m not even sure what point these players are trying to make. In some cases, these athletes are making tens of millions of dollars a year. These guys are young, rich, famous, good-looking and generally on top of the world. They’re not subjects of “discrimination.”
So, why are they doing this? Do they feel that they’re actually in some danger of being shot? The answer is no, unless they’re hanging out in the ghetto, or acting out as thugs somewhere—some of them do. There’s certainly no reason to think these guys are moral paradigms. The rates of spousal abuse and off-field violence in the NFL—which is about 70% black—are way above the norm. The guy who started this nonsense, Colin Kaepernick, is actually just a scam artist. A crybaby looking for attention.
Frankly, I don’t care what they do or feel. It’s foolish and in bad taste for them to use their athletic platform to say whatever they’re saying. It’s unclear to me exactly what they’re trying to say.
Justin: You’re right, Doug. Colin Kaepernick was the first player to make this protest. He did so last year before a preseason game. And he kneeled to take a stand against police brutality and racial injustice.
Now you have entire teams doing it. Could these “showings of unity” repair race relations in this country?
Doug: No. Instead, they will damage race relations further.
The problem is that people are genetically programmed to be suspicious of those of a different race or even a different community.
A couple hundred thousand years ago, you’re out hunting a deer. If you met somebody else out there hunting that deer, and he wasn’t part of your immediate clan, he was probably an enemy. There’s a good chance that he was going to kill you after the deer goes down. The more different he was, the greater the odds violence would ensue.
Racism isn’t abnormal or unnatural. It’s actually a primitive survival characteristic. It’s perfectly normal, from an evolutionary or genetic point of view. In fact, birds of a feather flock together, and like attracts like. If you’re walking down a lonely city side street at night, who’s more likely to give you trouble: Some young Jews going to a chess club meeting, or some young blacks going to a bar?
Of course, we discriminate, based on whatever factors are relevant. It’s stupid not to. But race is just the first filter. There are many others. The key to intelligent and moral action is to treat people as individuals, not as members of groups, whenever possible. Just the opposite of what so-called “identity politics” is all about. They see people primarily as members of racial, ethnic, linguistic, sexual, or other groups.
I prefer to deal with people as individuals. If they’re black, homosexual, Muslim, or what-have-you that gives me more information about them—information that may or may not be relevant. Only fools and idiots disregard facts because they seem politically incorrect.
And that leads me back to what these players are doing. It’s part of the whole identity-politics movement.
They don’t see other people as individuals. They see them as members of groups. And when you see people as members of groups, you’re asking for conflict.
The solution is to see people as individuals, not as members of groups. But these guys see themselves as members of a group—they’re actually being overtly racist. Even the white guys on the team—they’re feeling, not thinking. Showing solidarity with their black teammates, even though the whole exercise is idiotic on every level.
Like I said, though racism is natural, it’s increasingly rather stupid in today’s high-tech world. These guys are being counterproductive—but perhaps they’re harbingers of the future. A guy I used to know, Michael Hart, used to come to our Eris Society meetings in Aspen. One, among other books, he wrote, was The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History. A speech he gave one year was about how the US was going to break up into smaller countries, and part of it would be on racial lines. At the time, I thought that unlikely. Now I think Michael may have been right…
Justin: Should NFL owners be able to fire employees who engage in these protests?
Doug: Absolutely. Look, you’ve got a right to your political opinions. Or any other opinions. But if you work for an organization, you must act under the terms and conditions that are set down. If you don’t like it, quit.
If the owner of the team doesn’t like your actions, opinions, beliefs, attitudes, or just the way you look, he has every right to fire you, for any reason.
You don’t own your job. The two of you must arrive at an agreement as to how you’re going to relate. Giving workers “rights” that don’t exist is only a cause for even more conflict. Relationships must be based on pure voluntarism.
So, it’s perfectly fine to fire somebody for any cause, or no cause at all, and that includes their beliefs and opinions—or race or religion. Beliefs, opinions, race and religion aren’t sacred, nor should they be grounds for legal action.
The only place where people are “equal” is in a court of law. Anything goes in commercial relations. You don’t have a right to your job. The very concept is both morally repugnant and economically stupid.
Justin: So, this sort of seems like a non-issue. And yet, everyday Americans are losing their minds over this. What do you make of that?
Doug: I’m afraid that although the average person may or may not do tolerably well running his own life, he’s totally incompetent at things beyond his personal life. They know vastly more about the Kardashians, sports, and maybe astrology than anything of importance. That’s an argument against democracy, of course, which is a bit off-topic at the moment.
The problem is that most people don’t have the knowledge they need for making “public policy” decisions to start with. And when they’re confronted with decisions, or have to form opinions, they do it on the basis of what they feel, not what they think. And they don’t know the difference.
Justin: What about Donald Trump? Should he concern himself with this?
Doug: Well, Donald Trump is not a libertarian. He’s an authoritarian.
On top of that, he’s a nationalist. So, as a jingoist, of course he’s upset over this—but it’s unseemly to be running around hooting and panting like a chimpanzee.
I find it inappropriate. He shouldn’t have anything to do with it at all. It’s none of his business, either as a private citizen or as president. But he clearly wants to proclaim some diktat on the matter that everyone has to obey.
NFL football is a private sporting event. It’s between the players and the owners. Let them work it out. It’s got nothing to do with the US government.
Frankly, I’d rather see the Salvation Army band than the Marine Corps band. They’re less militaristic and less likely to get people riled up looking for a war. Even if they happen to play “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
Justin: Well, I think that covers about everything I wanted to ask. So, thank you for sharing your insights again, Doug.
Doug: You’re welcome, Justin.
Justin’s note: Doug will be speaking at the New Orleans Investment Conference, October 25–28.
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Today, another reader writes in with more on Doug’s recent interview on Catalonia’s independence:
I’m a Crisis Investing Spanish subscriber. Recently I received Doug’s opinion on Catalonia.
The Catalonian nationalist movement is being backed by people like George Soros. We are afraid this might end like Ukraine’s Maidan protests—this is a possibility.
The other possibility is that they will change the constitution and build a smaller cage for people in Catalonia.