LeBron James is one of the most celebrated professional basketball players in the history of the game. There is no doubt that he has surpassed many of the basketball legends of old, but it appears he may not be satisfied with his success.
Recently, the athlete commented on the debate over National Football League (NFL) players kneeling for the national anthem before games. Instead of providing a well-reasoned assessment of the situation, James decided to engage in some good ol’ fashioned race baiting.
James decided to engage in some good ol’ fashioned race baiting.
In a recent episode of “The Shop,” an HBO show the basketball player hosts, James accused NFL team owners of embracing a “slave mentality” towards their players.
“In the NFL they just got a bunch of old, white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality. And it’s like, ‘This is my team. You do what the f— I tell y’all to do, or we get rid of y’all,’” he said.
After lamenting the travails of “slaves” who are paid millions of dollars to play a game, James heaped praise on National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver, who has supported political outreach efforts in which basketball players have engaged: “It doesn’t even matter if Adam agrees with what we are saying, he at least wants to hear us out. As long as we are doing it in a very educational, non-violent way, then he’s absolutely OK with it.”
Is America One Giant Plantation?
It appears that James might be out of touch with the lives of most Americans. He fails to understand that the rules placed on NFL players are the same as the expectations of average individuals in the workplace. Most employers do not allow their workers to engage in political activism on the company dime.
When was the last time you saw a software developer refuse to write code because he wanted to march against injustice in the streets? Are salespeople allowed to preach to their clients about the benefits of socialism instead of pitching the company’s product?
Of course not. And the same principle applies to NFL players. The National Football League is essentially a business, and as such, they expect their employees to do the job for which they were hired.
The organization has not prohibited its players from engaging in political activism when they are not on the field. Indeed, many players do more politically than just advocate for their causes by placing their knees on the grass. They are active in their communities, and they work with various organizations to effect real change.
The notion that NFL players are similar to slaves is absurd. A player’s relationship to their team owner is the same as any employee’s relationship to their employer. Some companies may not have a problem with their workers engaging in political activities on company time. But most do, and this does not mean that those who work for them are slaves – especially if they are paid salaries that surpass that of average Americans.
But the main difference between NFL players and actual slaves is that these overpaid prima donnas can walk away anytime they like. Not so with those who suffer slavery.
A Problem with Slave Metaphors
Why would LeBron James use a slavery analogy to describe the NFL situation? The answer is sadly all too obvious. It’s an emotionally-charged issue, and it is sure to further ingratiate him with an audience that has never seen a slavery analogy that they don’t love. Unfortunately, slavery analogies – whether being used by the left or the right – do nothing to promote dialogue about issues Americans believe are important.
Reasonable people can disagree on NFL protests without resorting to ridiculous metaphors that are designed to demonize the other side. James, like many on the left, does not seem to be interested in discussing real issues without resorting to baseless name-calling – an integral component of the progressive left’s approach to discourse, which relies more on smearing those with whom they disagree than on finding common ground.
For decades, the left has found success in applying this tactic. Unfortunately for them, the strategy is finally losing its potency. It turns out that you cannot bring someone to your side by insulting them, nor can you badger them into acquiescing to your demands simply by calling them a bigot. American society does not benefit from these types of statements, but it is not likely that the progressives will learn this lesson anytime soon.