Friday, September 21, 2018


Kneeling for anthem bad PR move

  • Anthem-Policy-Dolphins-Football-1

    Wilfredo Lee

Nobody asked, but …

• Hopefully protesting NFL players will resist the urge to take a knee during the national anthem as a new season begins next month. It’s a losing proposition in the court of public opinion for several reasons.

First, the anthem is a time for fans to honor America and those who have bravely served and sacrificed so we all can enjoy our freedom. To do otherwise, to many, shows a blatant disrespect for that sacrifice.

Second, the NFL is a for-profit business, and anyone who has ever worked for a business knows you give up certain free speech rights as a condition of employment. You can’t openly badmouth your company or do anything else deemed harmful to the company without facing sanction. Shunning the anthem clearly harms the NFL’s image.

Third, most of us have trouble taking seriously someone who will earn more money in a year or two than we’ll see in our lifetimes claiming how unfair things are. You know what’s unfair? Forking out $25 for parking, $100 or more for a ticket and $11 for a beer at an NFL game.

If protesting NFL players want to get the public on their side, they should fan out on their days off and ride along with the police to build better relations. Nowhere might this be more helpful than Chicago, where two weekends ago 71 people were shot and 12 died. Last weekend “only” 33 people were shot.

• When the Pablo Center at the Confluence opens next month, hopefully folks will remember the decision in 2003 by RCU and then-CEO Charles Grossklaus to locate the company’s headquarters on the other side of the confluence. That project jumpstarted the entire North Barstow Street developments, public and private, and changed attitudes about what downtown Eau Claire and our rivers could become.

• Speaking of the arts, it’s great to see the plethora of outdoor free music offerings again this summer at Owen Park, Phoenix Park and River Prairie. But none of it would be possible without so many talented musicians in our midst to provide the entertainment, some of whom no doubt work other jobs before grabbing their instruments and jamming out in the evening. A tip of the hat to them all.

• Just when we had started to forget about how much we get nicked for gasoline around here, all it takes is a trip somewhere else to be reminded. Last month a drive over to Green Bay found gas available for $2.65 a gallon, 27 cents cheaper than our $2.92 (at the time). Multiply that by every driver who fills up, and you’re talking serious money.

• The recent episode of airport worker Richard Russell stealing, flying and finally crashing an otherwise unoccupied Alaska Airlines turboprop near Seattle reminds us that all the airport security measures in the world can be futile if someone on the inside flips out. We can all empty our pockets, take off our shoes and coats, walk through scanners and have our luggage inspected, but we can’t get inside the heads of baggage handlers, mechanics, flight attendants, inspectors and even pilots. Fortunately, Russell only did harm to himself.

• Let me see if I have this straight. President Donald Trump slaps a tariff on steel and other products coming here from European Union countries. In response, the EU retaliates with tariffs on some U.S. products, including Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

In response to that, Harley-Davidson announces that it will increase production at a plant in Europe to stay competitive in that market. Trump then calls for a U.S. boycott of Milwaukee-based Harleys in this country.

I’m no expert on economics, but two things seem clear. First, Harley-Davidson is making a rational decision in the wake of a trade war that Trump foolishly started. Second, if this exact same thing happened, but the person in the White House was Barack Obama instead of Trump, Fox News talking heads would be going ballistic. What are H-D officials supposed to do? Watch their overseas business dry up?

• Mixing American governance with reality TV doesn’t seem like a good idea, which Omarosa Manigault Newman is proof. President Trump and Manigault Newman worked together on “The Apprentice,” and Trump brought her along to the White House after he was elected. After it became apparent she was unfit for whatever it was she was supposed to be doing, she got the ax, but not before taping conversations with a hidden recorder in the White House high-security “Situation Room.”

Now she’s doing what you’d expect a reality TV “star” to do: Write a book about Trump titled “Unhinged,” do interviews with anyone willing to listen and claim that Trump is a racist and unfit to be president. In response, Trump, predictably, has called Manigault Newman a “low-life” and other such pleasantries.

How’s that for “draining the swamp?”

• The high school football season opened this weekend, and by the time it ends the weekend of Nov. 15-16, the teams reaching the playoff finals will play 14 games, the same number NFL teams used to play before increasing to 16. That seems like a lot of football for high school students, not to mention having to start practice in early August.

Huebscher is a contributing columnist and former Leader-Telegram editor.

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