Proverbs 23:23 “Buy the truth, and don’t sell it. Also, wisdom and instruction and understanding.”
Two years ago, on the 17th anniversary of 9/11, Nike featured 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. His belief that cost him his NFL career began in August 2016, when he explained his reason for refusing to stand during the national anthem: “to protest the oppression of people of color in the United States and ongoing issues with police brutality”.
MSNBC interviewed NFL player Devin McCourty on his support of Nike’s ad and the protest against police brutality. McCourty said “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.”
Now, on the 19th anniversary of 9/11, this movement in professional sports has grown to also include the NBA, MLB and MLS, all embracing Nike’s message of sacrificing everything, on the same level as the 9/11 first responders. But is this TRUE? Let’s look at two examples of 9/11 first responders, both police officers.
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.
One thing is true:
by comparing themselves to our 9/11 heroes and our police, professional athletes do not understand the meaning of sacrifice.But there is a bigger issue at the core of protests by professional athletes we must address: is it TRUE that police brutality against people of color 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.”
What about the positive statistics behind our police? In New York City, the site of 9/11, there are over 30,000 police. In 2013, only 8 people died from police gunfire – the lowest in 40 years! All 8 of these victims had a weapon. The media never reported this outstanding performance in one of our most dangerous cities. 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.
In our bible verse this week, King Solomon reminds us that the most important thing to buy, and hold onto, is the TRUTH. The truth is that professional athletes are protesting an issue (systemic police racism) not supported by the facts and involving very little sacrifice, while our 9/11 heroes and our police have and do risk the ultimate sacrifice for a cause that is true and honorable – protecting all our lives. On September 11, 2020 – 19 years after 9/11 – we must commit ourselves to holding onto the TRUTH wherever it leads.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #415