Author: Bryan Myrick (Page 1 of 33)

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Column | A coalition of “Even If” defenders of Roy Moore will sacrifice everything to gain nothing

Would you sacrifice your own daughter to achieve a greater good?

The wolves are circling around Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was among the earliest Republicans inside the Beltway to call for the candidate to step aside after on-the-record accusation were published by the Washington Post that Moore engaged in inappropriate relationships with very young girls when he was in his 30s. The most serious accusation is from Alabaman Leigh Corman who said she was 14 and Moore was 32 when he pursued having a relationship with her and eventually initiated sexual contact.

A former law firm colleagues of Moore from the time of the accusations has said that it was “common knowledge” that Moore dated teenagers.

On Monday, Gloria Allred – the Babe Ruth of sexual harassment litigation – stood by her client, a fifth accuser who said Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16.

Since last Thursday when the story broke, the list of Republicans calling for Moore to step aside has steadily grown. New allegations are likely to accelerate that trend, but Moore has shown no indications that he will yield.

Despite the swelling pressure to lance Moore from the body politic, the lightning rod former Alabama chief justice has plenty of defenders.

There are those who question the timing or veracity of the stories, or dismiss them as outright fabrications by a conspiring media.

There are those who believe that no decision about Moore should be made until he’s given “due process.” (National Review senior writer David French has excellent thoughts on why this is wrong and why the differences between legal judgment and societal judgment are significant and important.)

And, of course, there are also the motley crew of miscreants who a) offer warped and illogical interpretations of Christian teachings in a way that tolerates or normalizes sex with children, or b) bizarrely argue that any victim who keeps their abuse secret is actually an accomplice to the crime and thus victimizing the assailant. (Take a moment to regroup if your mind is spinning. And, yes, this last thing really happened.)

But there is one faction of the Moore defense that will push a simple and seductive line of reasoning. Let’s label them the “Even If” Coalition, and call them out for the simple, seductive, and poisonous logic they’re peddling.

The pitch starts with a seemingly pragmatic existential imperative: “Even if Moore did these things – which may be horrible – we have to stop Democrats from taking over. Vote Moore. Save America.”

It’s a powerful appeal because it’s founded a real fear. The stakes are very high. Every flipped seat in Congress is one step closer to a Democratic majority, one that will more likely organize around an even more socialist set of unifying principles than the last time they held the government.

There’s one big problem, and conservatives need to face it honestly. The surge of pressure to vote for Moore states the explicit danger without spelling out the implicit transaction; for those who are in the “Even If” camp, there’s a hidden sacrifice of humanity proposed that is more than just disturbing.

The “Even Ifs” may not fully recognize that the transactional rallying cry of ‘Vote Moore, Save America’ is only part of the bargain they’re offering. The very insertion of “even if” implies some amount of doubt as to whether the allegations are false, as Moore asserts. This is why conservatives need to continue their criticism of the “even if” rationalizers. If the accusations might be true, doesn’t that logically mean that the lost innocence of four girls is being viewed as an acceptable sacrifice?

But If one of the girls accusing Moore was your daughter, sister, niece, or granddaughter, would you be comfortable exchanging her sanity for a seat in Congress? I suspect that most of those making this argument would not be, but that they haven’t considered a hidden spiritual cost of their political calculus. Is electing Roy Moore to the U.S. Senate worth that cost? Or, more probably, is it worth going to the end of the line for a candidate who is more likely to lose, and in doing so foreclose on other options to hold the seat?

To make matters worse, Moore’s recalcitrance is keeping this ugly rationale alive among some opinion leaders and rank-and-file on the right.

Debate over whether he should leave and if he stays in the race whether he should be supported keeps the “even if” argument active, and Moore’s run to high ground – direct appeals to evangelical voters that not opposing pro-abortion Democrat Doug Jones means the end of Alabama and the Union, in that order – adds cacophony to a much-needed character and morality debate within the broader conservative movement.

“Even If” Republicans who do choose to support Moore might claim to be holding their nose. They may envision self-soothing scenarios in which Moore would never actually serve and the party could appoint a worthy successor. Still, there’s no way to get completely bury the act of supporting a candidate while accepting that he might be guilty of a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old. The further darkening of the soul of our body politic will have been abetted and publicly so.

If the whole problem of a spiritual void still doesn’t concern “Even Ifs,” the downstream political effect should. Swing voters in suburban purple districts may decide to punish this kind of moral ambiguity by sending a message and destroying Republican candidates in the 2018 midterms, just as they appear to have done to send an anti-Trump message in the November election just past.

Fear of Democrats regaining control is valid and real, to be sure. They have become a party that appeals to extremes, too often sits by when freedoms are being suppressed, and seeks more power over our day-to-day choices. If Moore wins, however, the world doesn’t look any safer for Republicans as our would-be protectors. Having Moore in the Senate makes the task of holding the body harder, not easier.

If we have to pick our poison, we’d be smart to sip the toxin that may wound us, but avoid the cup that will surely kill us slowly from within.

[Image: AP]

Mercer Island Reporter yanks endorsement of city council candidate Joy Langley

On the eve of Election Day, the neighborhood weekly newspaper serving the community of Mercer Island has pulled its endorsement of city council candidate Joy Langley.

From the Mercer Island Reporter:

The Mercer Island Reporter Editorial Board retracts our endorsement of council candidate Joy Langley since she was unable to verify as of press time that she has a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.

Langley has maintained that she is a Cornell graduate, even after a thorough search by the registrar’s office of records produced a statement by the university that “no record” could be found of attendance or graduation for Langley.

In the endorsement retraction article, the Reporter quotes from a Nov. 6 letter from Cornell University’s associate legal counsel. The university’s attorney makes clear that Langley was asked to provide a number of details regarding her time at Cornell, but that she did not do so. The Marker obtained a copy of the letter. It was written in reply to a New York City attorney who had requested a retraction of the Cornell senior media relations officer’s public statement about the absence of records for Langley.  The letter implies that a summary of information was provided to Cornell, but was insufficient to prove Langley’s claims of attendance.

While I appreciate your effort to provide information supporting your client’s claim that she has a Cornell degree, your summary of information does not provide any additional details to enable a further search of University records.

We undertook a diligent investigation before Mr. Carberry made his statement, which included searches of University records and direct communications with your client. She was requested to provide the name of her advisor at Cornell, the names of any courses she took, a copy of any Cornell transcript she has, a legible copy of the diploma she identifies as having been issued by Cornell, or any other evidence she may have to document her enrollment at Cornell, and she provided none of the requested information.

 

 

 

 

Mixed bag for GOP in data firm’s analysis of turnout battle in pivotal 45th LD Senate race

Washington state-based political data intelligence firm Voter Science posted a snapshot analysis on its blog Sunday evening of how things looked based on ballot returns reported from the Secretary of State. For Republicans hoping to hang on to the critical seat, there’s a mix of good and bad news in what their evaluation finds.

(No real spoiler here. The election in the very purple East King County district will almost certainly be decided by swing voters.)

To generate its findings, Voter Science matched returned ballots against to its own database of voters that have assigned a party identification based on a mess of available information.

The result? According to data models, the GOP has turned out a greater percentage of Republican voters compared to Democrats with their base. That may sound great except that there are far fewer Republicans than Democrats in the 45th. The math could get dicey, and the battle over swing votes will be decisive, as Voter Science explains:

[The 45th legislative district is a] predominantly Democrat district.  In ‘14 and ’16 house races, Democrat’s average victory in LD 45 has been around 58%.  The district also voted over a 2:1 for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Kim Wyman and Andy Hill are the only Republicans to have won this district. …

Of voters identified as GOP, 28% have voted. Of voters identified as Democrats, 23% have voted.  Of voters identified as Independents, only 14% have voted.  So while the democrats may have raw volume of numbers, the GOP has driven higher turnout amongst their base.

 

[Full disclosure: The author of this piece has a minority share in Voter Science, but had no involvement in producing the analysis itself.]

Two days until Election Day, Cornell controversy still dogs Mercer Island candidate Joy Langley

Candidate for Mercer Island City Council Joy Langley claims that she is a graduate of prestigious Cornell University. The university states it has “no record” that Langley either attended or received a degree from the Ivy League school.

Langley has sailed through the controversy while bailing water by offering a smattering of statements to the media and battening down the hatches to keep key endorsers on board.

An email Langley sent to supporters on Thursday urged them to give her the benefit of the doubt and overlook allegations.

“I have been forthcoming about my credentials and professional qualifications,” Langley wrote. “I assume that there’s been an administrative error regarding my undergraduate matriculation.  I am working to resolve that error and to get back to the work of reaching out to voters to connect about the issues that matter to them.”

In statements to the media, Langley has maintained that privacy restrictions she placed on her records are a reason for the absence of public information. Some may find flaws in that explanation; Cornell could not produce any records even after she made a direct request and Langley has herself publicized her Cornell alumni affiliation.

On her campaign website FAQ page, Langley tells the story of moving “the east coast to complete my undergraduate studies in Philosophy and Political [S]cience at Cornell.”

The voter pamphlet statement for Langley lists “MA Political Management, George Washington University; BA Philosophy Cornell University.”

Another page on her website tosses into the mix her time at Ithaca College (this is not disputed), stating she “concurrently received dual degrees from Cornell University and Ithaca College in Philosophy and Political Science.”

And although on Thursday a Cornell degree had disappeared from her LinkedIn page, now her profile once again lists a B.A. in Political Science from Ithaca College and a B.A. in Philosophy from Cornell University.

The Cornell University campus newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun, also reported that Langley does not appear in the 2004 Cornell yearbook.

Langley has not responded to our recent requests for information, though she did answer questions from the Seattle Times. The Times article in which her comments appear is worth reading because it includes the only statement of its kind – a friend who says that they went to Cornell with Langley.

In a phone interview, Dan Dimendberg, a partner with the San Francisco political consultation firm TBWB Strategies, said he went to Cornell and also to George Washington University with Langley. He said he has known Langley for years, and that he’s familiar with the stalking incident from her Cornell days.

TBWB Strategies is also Terris, Barnes and Walters, a San Francisco-based firm with a nearly 15-year record of paid work in support of Democratic campaigns in Washington state. The firm has not done work for Langley’s campaign, but they have been active in Washington politics during this election cycle. Terris, Barnes and Walters has been paid $41,507.41 by Planned Parenthood Votes WA PAC through the end of October for direct mail pieces, including more than $8,000 for mailers intended for voters in the hotly contested 45th legislative district state Senate race, according to disclosures filed with the Public Disclosure Commission.

Most of Langley’s endorsers hanging in, treading carefully, but one walks back support

According to sources, concerned island residents have been putting pressure on the individuals who have endorsed Langley, prodding them to reconsider, or even rescind their backing, in light of the lack of clear answers.

On Friday, a letter circulated that was signed by seven of Langley’s endorsers – Mercer Island Mayor Bruce Bassett, Deputy Mayor Debbie Bertlin, Councilmembers Dan Grausz, state Senator Lisa Wellman, state Representative Tana Senn, state Representative Judy Clibborn, and Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett.

The missive from local civic leaders wagged a finger about the “rancor and vitriol against Joy,” and though it acknowledged the controversy over Langley’s Cornell degree has unresolved questions, they asked for patience in determining the facts.

“We should allow Joy the time needed to clear up this matter,” the letter states.

But one of the letter’s signers has already changed his mind. In a Sunday morning post titled “Enough is Enough past 2” to the NextDoor.com website, Grausz announced he was rescinding his endorsement.

“Under the circumstances we now find ourselves in, I have come to the conclusion that there are too many unanswered questions for me to maintain my prior endorsement of Joy Langley,” Grausz wrote. “I want nothing more than for Joy to refute what is out there and truly want to believe that she will do so.”

Another prominent Langley endorser is Rep. Adam Smith, Democrat representing Mercer Island and the Washington state 9th congressional district. Smith told the Marker by phone on Friday that he would stand by his endorsement, at least for now.

“I’ve worked with Joy on a number of issues and have a good working relationship with her. She’s a smart, capable woman with long ties to the local community,” Rep. Smith said.

Asked about the definitive statement by Cornell University that there is “no record of a person named Joy Langley … attending or graduating from this institution,” Smith wasn’t willing to disbelieve Langley’s assertion that the absence of records was the result of a clerical error.

“Until such time as more information comes out, I have no reason to change my endorsement of Joy.” Smith told the Marker. “With just [days] until the election, there just isn’t time to learn more.”

Cornell University: ‘No Record’ of Attendance or Graduation by Mercer Island City Council Candidate Joy Langley

Candidate for Mercer Island City Council Joy Langley has been at the center of a blooming controversy since Monday over accusations that she has falsely claimed to have earned a degree from Cornell University.

Since the allegations surfaced Monday, Langley has strongly maintained that she is a Cornell University graduate in an interview to the Mercer Island Reporter and a statement posted to her campaign website.

Nevertheless, Cornell University stated Wednesday afternoon that an extensive review of archives found no record that Langley attended or graduated the prestigious university. Their most recent exhaustive search followed two previous explorations by the university registrar’s office.

Furthermore, the university states that Langley never made any request to Cornell to keep her records private, a fact that seemed to contradict her own statements. From the MI Reporter:

Langley told the Reporter that the National Student Clearinghouse did not confirm whether she had a degree from Cornell … because Langley chose to keep her student records private.

The complete statement from Cornell University’s senior director of media relations reads:

“After receiving numerous inquiries and speaking directly with Ms. Langley, Cornell University re-examined its digital and paper archives, at the university and college level, and can confirm that we have no record of a person named Joy Langley or Joy Esther Langley attending or graduating from this institution.

“We can also confirm that the Office of the University Registrar has never received a request to make private any records related to Ms. Langley.”

On Wednesday evening, the Marker reached out to the Langley campaign for comment, but had not received a response at the time of this publication.

UPDATED: Dispute Over a Candidate’s Cornell University Pedigree Flares in Mercer Island City Council Race as Election Nears

[Developments occurring since this story was published can be found here.]

[Story note: Since our story was first published on Monday, the Cornell University media relations department has reasserted that the school has no record that Joy Langley either attended or graduated from the university. The official also stated that the registrar’s office has not been in contact with Langley. The story has been edited to include these details where appropriate.]

If there is a hierarchy in the universe of alumni – and there is – earning the right to call yourself a Cornell University graduate puts you in the higher tiers. The achievement is prestigious, coveted and can be a door-opener to coveted leadership opportunities in business, government, and politics.

It makes sense then why candidate for Mercer Island City Council Joy Langley chose to engrave membership in the Cornell alumni into her voter pamphlet statement and on her campaign website. Even a letter from key endorsers name-drops Cornell in the sweet spot of their pitch to island voters.

There’s just one question that continues to nag a group of Islanders – did Langley really earn a degree from Cornell?

A controversy about the veracity of her Cornell claim has roiled below the surface for weeks and broke into a very public boil Monday as the details of allegations that she did not earn a Cornell degree – and statements from the candidate – were reported in the Mercer Island Reporter.

The Northwest Daily Marker attempted to gather clear facts to defuse suspicions, but what we found failed to put the questions completely to rest.

Last week, the Marker submitted a request for records through National Student Clearinghouse, the website that Cornell University contracts with for degree ownership verification. The result of was that clearinghouse could not verify any degrees earned at Cornell by Langley.

On Monday, Langley told the Reporter that the lack of information available through the clearinghouse was because she had chosen to keep her student records private. (Note: The Reporter endorsed Langley.)

The Marker then reached out directly to the Cornell University Registrar, and our inquiry was forwarded to a senior media relations official.  On Monday, after checking with the registrar’s office, the official stated the university has “no record of anyone by that name attending or receiving a degree from Cornell University.” In a follow-up email, the same media relations official re-confirmed as follows:

Cornell University has no record of a person named Joy Langley or Joy Esther Langley attending or graduating from this institution.

Langley also told the Reporter that she plans to produce more information, but that her records were in a form of bureaucratic lockdown.

Langley said she would request her transcripts as proof of enrollment at Cornell, but was told that a freeze had been placed on the documents…

It’s unclear who at Cornell informed Langley of the “freeze” on her records.

“The Office of the University Registrar has likewise received no request from, nor engaged in any correspondence or conversation with, Ms. Langley on this matter,” the Cornell media relations official wrote.

The Marker asked a spokesperson for Langley’s campaign if the candidate would ask the university to make her records available. The campaign did not respond, and instead referred us to the Cornell Registrar’s website and a page on privacy laws.

In another email obtained by the Marker, the media relations official states that his staff has not received any inquiries from the Mercer Island Reporter. From the Reporter article:

The Reporter is still working to independently verify Langley’s credentials. Questions about Langley’s degree are being fielded through Cornell’s office of media relations.

As of now, the only documentation Langley has provided to the Marker has been a link to a photo posted to a back page on Langley’s website. Inset into the larger image is a small photo of a Cornell diploma that does bear Langley’s name and the date of May 30, 2004.

Langley also published to her campaign website a statement responding to the accusations, and suggesting that her opponent tacitly approved of “negative attacks” and “character assassination.”

According to Langley, her undergraduate credits were split between Ithaca College and Cornell University and earned her two separate degrees. From the Reporter:

“I entered Cornell as a sophomore due to AP credits (Sage School, Arts and Sciences) and concurrently enrolled at Ithaca College (Humanities and Sciences),” [Langley] responded. “I was able to graduate in four years with a degree from each institution.”

An exhaustive search was unable to find any online footprints corresponding to Langley and Cornell University, while a substantial amount of ephemera tying her to Ithaca College was easy to find.

As a student at Ithaca College, Langley was a college athlete and a participant in student government. Her name appears in contemporary blurbs about Ithaca’s women’s crew team. In another digital artifact – the April 11, 2002 edition of the Ithaca College student newspaper “The Ithacan” – Langley is mentioned as being an Ithaca sophomore and a member of Solidaridad, a student government party that “used titles of spokesperson rather than traditional titles of president and vice president” to refer to its leadership. The Ithacan reports that Solidaridad was disqualified from fielding candidates in the 2002-2003 student elections, though a reason for the disqualification is not given.

In real and political terms, Mercer Island occupies valuable ground. Interstate 90 connects Mercer Island by bridge to ultra-liberal and solidly Democratic Seattle to the west and a more moderate, Republican-ish Bellevue to the east. It is a home for many wealthier Seattle expats who have been drawn to its slower pace, neighborhood feel, and strong community support for excellent K-12 education.

Those who follow the Mercer City Council note that it has maintained a delicate political balance despite pressures within its changing voter base. The seat Langley is hoping to win is a part of that balance.

New CNN Ad Brands the Network as ‘Facts First’ News. Not So Fast, CNN.

CNN is not fake news. Neither is it 100% fact, but that is what the 24-hour news network wants the public to take away from a new advertisement that was tweeted on Monday, the latest slap in a passive-aggressive bickering war with Pres. Donald Trump.

The origins of the feud between Trump and CNN are difficult to trace, but Trump’s use of the news organization as a whipping post began during the 2016 presidential election. Even before Trump took the oath of office, it was clear that his relationship with CNN was exempt from his casual promise to be more presidential. During his first press conference since being elected, Trump singled out CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, pointed a finger and proclaimed, “Yewww are fake news.”

When the president’s rebuke is interpreted using the fuzzy word-feelings dictionary of our new tonal social language he’s correct, but on substance he’s wrong as usual.

Yes, the CNN hosts have obvious points of view, but the truth is that on most topics each show convenes panels of experts to advocate all sides, and the underlying reporting is based on facts that are all too often inconvenient to the narrative being put out by the Trump administration. That’s as fair and balanced as a typical Fox News show – in some cases more so.

But in other cases, CNN strays and this is where Trump’s minimalist critique still holds up and their claim fails to stick. For example, allowing distinctions to be erased between attempted hacking of US election systems, foreign-based misinformation campaigns, and changing actual votes to fraud a presidential election is counter to any goal of getting to the truth. Editor of the Daily Wire Ben Shapiro writes:

For months, we heard nothing but the story from CNN that the Russians had “hacked” the election. That wasn’t fact, but narrative. The problem with CNN isn’t that they’re fact-free — they’re not, and many of their reporters are excellent — but that they have a bad habit of conflating their opinions with the facts in the same way as any other outlet. The only difference: they fib about doing so, as many in the pseudo-objective media do.

So no, the ad doesn’t work. An apple is indeed an apple, but CNN has been in the business of slicing, dicing, juicing, and mixing that apple with bananas in order to fit its preferred political outcome.

And on a number of issues, CNN does promote the idea that sometimes an apple is a banana, or more precisely that a banana must be called a cantaloupe if that’s what the banana chooses. Put another way, the father of modern psychology Sigmund Freud was attributed to have posited, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” It is equally true that a cigar is never a flower, but CNN has helped to promote that kind of fallacy in the debate over the rights of individuals to self-identify their gender and compel others to recognize their choice.

CNN may be completely unaware that there is a list of these protected “facts” enshrined in their reporting. Suggest to CNN host Don Lemon that it could be reasonable to be offended by anthem protests, or that we should not debate gun control or police shootings by using cherry-picked data and talking points. Or meekly interject to any CNN host that although science shows trends of change in our climate, drastic and sweeping policies could be ineffective or even harmful. In those cases, and on the matter of human sexuality, CNN has moved ahead of the facts to chisel some of its beliefs into stone. Their facts are not so much facts as deeply held beliefs; they may be based on some supporting evidence, but almost always disregard conflicting data.

And there’s the question of CNN’s “facts” in how it chooses words to be used and repeated in the framing of issues. The word “access” has been grossly redefined by the English-to-MSM Dictionary used by CNN. The resulting divergence in a lexicon of debate on policy ensures that communities in different thought bubbles do not have a common point of reference.

King County Elections Did a Good Thing With a New Video About Voting Rights

It’s easy for Washington state conservatives to tee off on King County Elections, but a good thing should be called out when a good thing is done.

Elections Director Julie Wise’s office did a good thing when they greenlit a new video intended to encourage more voter participation. In fact, their message is one that many conservatives should be able to get behind: universal suffrage is a reality because of the blood, sweat, and tears invested by many generations of Americans.

The video uses images and text to bring viewers forward from the time of the American Revolution through an expansion of voting rights that despite occurring far too slowly and in opposition to darker forces within the American public, were nevertheless fought for and should be acknowledged and used because they are valuable. Watch for yourself.

The video is surprising because the message is elegantly simple and undeniably patriotic. It implicitly reinforces the steps the country has taken on voting rights and affirms that history to voters in minority groups who are most likely the intended audience. The piece doesn’t lean into partisan sloganeering – scaremongering minority voters that we are just one election away from Jim Crow and systemic disenfranchisement – but affirms that achieving universal suffrage is a part of our common history.

Now, this isn’t to say that this one good deed lightens the great karmic burden on King County Elections. It was after all the machine that in 2004, under the management of Director Dean Logan, oversaw the magical transformation of a Dino Rossi victory on two vote counts into what was to be a two-term Christine Gregoire governorship. More recently, it was the agency in charge of a painful and predictably slow validation of more than 70,000 signatures on a petition to ban government-sponsored illegal heroin sites. There will undoubtedly be new outrages. Momentum is growing in Olympia on the proposal to make Sound Transit board members stand for election and be accountable for the tens of billions in taxes and fees they spend. The potential for professional wrestling-grade monkey business in such elections would be incredibly high.

For now, watch the video, judge for yourself, and please sound off in the comments below.

Dear Seahawks, Isn’t it Time for That Apology?

It’s ironic that a sport like football that is all about taking things head-on in a physical sense can’t seem to translate that smash-mouth approach to how it approaches moral matters.

Whether in the NFL’s habit of tut-tutting past an endless string of stories about players in legal trouble, or failing to organize around the very basic idea that abusing women will result in swift and sobering punishment, or slipping meekly away from the nova-like moment of leaguewide anthem protests, the amassed megatons of brawn appear weak.

Specifically, directly addressing the understandable offense taken by reasonable people over the protests should be a relatively light lift in whatever units are used for measuring apologies. Nevertheless, the NFL seems content to move on without directly addressing any of it.

The team I’ve loved since the time we both were kids in the mid-1970s, the Seattle Seahawks, seems especially happy to pretend as though the whole thing was a bad dream. Pushing the whole episode down the memory hole is a mistake. True fans have an amazing capacity to carry grudges. There are Hawks fans who continued to despise one-time owner Ken Behring – the man who actually packed up the headquarters in preparation to take the team to Los Angeles – until the day he died.

And ask former Starbucks CEO and Seattle Supersonics owner Howard Schultz whether the city has fully forgiven him for what many feel was an act of betrayal in allowing the team to be sold out and moved to Oklahoma City.

To be sure, the Seahawks have responded in some ways based on the public’s reaction. In Week 5, Seattle Seahawks fans witnessed a pre-game ceremony that didn’t look much different than what was typical prior to Week 4. Players standing. Some locked arms. Some hands over hearts. And at yesterday’s Week 5 match-up against the Los Angeles Rams, even the team’s standout anthem protester, all-pro defensive end Michael Bennett, stood with the team for the first time this year. Hurrah.

There’s just one problem: the leaguewide protest action of three weeks ago was less peaceful speech and more political punch. That blow was felt a broad enough swath of Americans that it shouldn’t be dismissed as the overreaction of right-wing-variety snowflakes. The Seahawks organization was a leader in the effort and neither the team nor the league have stepped up to acknowledge the message they sent, perhaps inadvertently, to fans.

“Look, we put everything back the way it was before. Good! Right?” mewed the league hopefully.

Not so fast. Diehard Seahawks fans who took the slap may deserve something more than an unspoken agreement to not slap them again. If the team wants to win back any respect from those fans, it’s going to have to make some effort to address the slap. Own it, recognize the insult, and let’s move on. We can start by breaching the great divide of perception that persists between protesters and those who see the protests as inextricably aimed at the flag.

At last mention, Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll still contends that he doesn’t believe the protests were a “denigration” of the flag and in the aftermath has defined such acts as a way to “stand against hate and dehumanization and equality for all people.”

The hyper-compartmentalization by Carroll and others to separate the protest from the only other thing happening at that time is still quite stunning. Keeping those blinders strapped on also prevents a rapprochement with alienated Hawks fans. That fan resistance isn’t pouting or intolerance or snowflakery.

Consider that you are attending the wedding of a Catholic friend. At the penultimate moment of the ceremony, you stand, turn your back to the altar, and profess your disapproval of the Church’s position on same-sex marriage. Consider then that you explain to your friend that you weren’t actually being disrespectful of their beliefs, their church or the sanctity of their moment. Consider then that you just lost a friend, perhaps for life, save for one last-ditch act. You do the right thing, suck it up, and make an honest and contrite apology.

Of course, professional sports are not a religion; neither is national pride. The point is that scheduling matters when it comes to how context will be interpreted. Planning a protest to suggest inequality and racism are woven into the American DNA is one thing. Having it coincide with the presentation of said nation’s flag is bound to be seen as intentional. Making it a league statement pits fans who vehemently disagree against the league. It’s fitting that a protest over the freedom to protest has unleashed in some disaffected fans the freedom to choose pumpkin patches, long walks, or reading a book over watching sports, as the decline in ratings appears to show.

So, Seahawks, is it time yet to begin the healing? As one seriously committed lifelong Seahawks fan, I’d like to see something happen. There is only so much entertainment one can squeeze out of a pumpkin patch. I can take a long walk any other day of the week.

Speaking only for myself, I’m not asking for a guarantee that all players will stand for the anthem, because compulsory respect isn’t actually respect at all.

Furthermore, I certainly don’t want players who were initially involved in the anthem protests to be pressured into abandoning whichever cause they were supporting. In fact, the only silver lining to be found here would be an honest opportunity to listen and learn from each other, to challenge preconceptions, get to a common set of facts about the issues at hand, and find some common objectives based on things we can all agree need to change.

Individual actions were not ever really a breaking point issue for me or most other fans. I know that because we were doing okay as recently as four weeks ago. Sure, it was the kind of “doing fine” that involved some tolerance that American football had become ever more soaked in the liquor of liberal politics, but it was easy enough to grind your teeth, roll your eyes and ignore it. And then the individual kneeling metastasized into a leaguewide action.

For the entire NFL to unite in a protest action was markedly different from the isolated player protests. Everything changed the moment it happened. It became a “thing.” To defuse it requires recognizing what it was to many people and some clear, public commitment to make it clear that protests are fine, but not those that coincide with a moment we reserve for respecting the flag. Individual acts of disrespect will still be distasteful, but easy to ignore without the appearance of endorsement by the entire team or the league as a whole.

We’ve given a lot of time, money and emotion to support a team. A simple sign of respect in reciprocity for all of that seems like the least we can ask.

[Ed. This story was corrected to indicate that Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett stood during the singing of the national anthem before the Oct. 8 game against the L.A. Rams.]

[Photo credit: AP]

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