On 9/11: Our Police, Football, Nike – Who is “Sacrificing Everything”?

“Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1John 3:18

Sports apparel giant Nike’s wants to inspire us with their new ad campaign, which features former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick with the message “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”, implying Kaepernick’s inability to land an NFL job is because he holds true to his beliefs. Just to remind us, his belief that apparently cost him his NFL career began in August 2016, when reporters asked him why he refused to stand during the national anthem. He told the media he chose to sit “to protest the oppression of people of color in the United States and ongoing issues with police brutality”.

This past week on the 17th anniversary of 9/11, MSNBC interviewed New England Patriots player Devin McCourty to explain his support of Nike’s ad and the ongoing protest against police brutality by the “NFL Coalition”. McCourty made this statement: “On a day like today, where we’re talking about 9/11, it’s the equality of what people went through when they tried to save lives, it’s the same thing we are trying to fight for.” These NFL players embrace Nike’s message of sacrificing everything and see themselves as on the same level as the 9/11 first responders. Let’s take a look at two first responder heroes, both police officers, and you tell me if these NFL players have a valid point that they belong side-by-side with such heroes.

On September 11, 2001, NYPD Officer Kenneth Tietjen commandeered a taxi and drove to ground zero. When he arrived, he rushed into the North tower and rescued many people, leading them out to safety. After he had brought several others out from the building and the conditions quickly grew worse, he and his partner realized they only had one respirator left that was now required to be able to breathe in all the smoke. Officer Tietjen smiled at his partner, said “Seniority rules”, took the respirator and rushed back into the tower-just before it collapsed. Police Officer Tietjen, an American hero, sacrificed everything that day.

Police Officer Thomas Jurgens was trained as a medic in the Army before becoming a police officer. On September 11, 2001 he was inside the first tower of the World Trade Center when he was warned by radio transmission to get out as fast as he could because the tower’s structural integrity was failing. The last transmission from Jurgens was simple: “There are people here who need our help.” He died in the tower collapse. Police Officer Jurgens, an American hero, sacrificed everything that day.

But there is something that trumps all the rhetoric from Nike and the NFL Coalition on the belief of police brutality as the basis for their “sacrifice”: is it true that police brutality is rampant in America?

In January 2018, black Harvard Professor of Economics Roland Fryer Jr. released a study of thousands of police-related incidents at the ten large police departments in California, Florida and Texas. Here is his conclusion: “On the most extreme use of force – officer-involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account.” Professor Fryer admitted that the finding that there is no racial discrimination in police shootings, is “the most surprising result of my career.”

Dennis Prager also refuted the claim of police racial brutality by using data:

“In 2015, of the 990 people shot dead by police, 93 were unarmed and 38 of them were black. Of the 505 people shot dead by police thus far in 2016, 37 were unarmed and of them 13 were black. Given that blacks murder and rob more than whites — they committed 62 percent of robberies, 57 percent of murders and 45 percent of assaults in the 75 biggest counties in the country in 2009 (despite comprising about 15 percent of the population in these counties) — an unarmed black is less likely to be killed by police than an unarmed white.”

Now, what about the very positive statistics of our law enforcements’ efforts? For example, New York City has over 30,000 police. In 2013, only 8 people died from police gunfire – the lowest in 40 years! And all of 8 of these victims were armed with either a gun or a cutting instrument. The media never reported this outstanding performance in one of the nation’s most dangerous cities. And less than 350 murders occurred in New York City in 2014, the fewest in 50 years and down from the average of 2,200 in the early 1990’s. Most of these potential murder victims were black. That means thousands of black lives have been saved in the past 20 years by New York’s finest – our police force.

As our bible verse this week says, real love for others isn’t in what you say. It’s based on action – sacrifice – and in telling the truth. “Sacrificing everything” cannot be hijacked by Nike and the NFL. On September 11, 2018 – 17 years after 9/11 – it belongs solely to our first responders. And America’s police force is a positive force for good, risking their lives daily as they do their jobs. NFL players are not in their league.

“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance”, Article #313 – September 15, 2018

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