This Is An Elegant Fucking Civil Rights Master Class From Beto O'Rourke, Sit And Get Learned!
Texas candidate for US Senate Beto O'Rourke went viral yesterday. Like, more viral than he did a few days ago when he skateboarded in the parking lot of a Whataburger to make fun of Ted Cruz calling O'Rourke a "triple meat Whataburger liberal," as if that were somehow a devastating insult instead of limp word salad with Stupid Dressing. But that was nothing compared to the reception for a video of O'Rourke giving a thoughtful, smart answer to a question about those football guys taking a knee during the National Anthem, and why it's not an "insult" to the flag or veterans, but instead one of the most American things a group of Americans could do.
Here's a video of O'Rourke's answer to a question from an audience member who said he comes from "a family of veterans," at a town hall in Houston on August 10. The man wanted to know whether O'Rourke agreed that the players' taking a knee was incredibly disrespectful to the flag, the troops, and America. And wow, what an answer!
Where a lot of politicians might try to avoid the question, O'Rourke actually contends with it, and while making clear he respects the questioner, he also says nobody's less American for having different views on the matter -- which is where some politicians might cue "Kumbayah" and call it a day. Instead, he rejects the premise outright: "My short answer is no, I don't think it's disrespectful." And then he launches into his longer answer, mentioning Taylor Branch's history bestseller Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63, and we're already in weird territory because here's a US Senate candidate talking about a book? How refreshingly unusual!
And so O'Rourke recites the litany of civil rights milestones, even noting the movement of the '50s and '60s only secured "better -- because they didn't get full -- civil rights for their fellow Americans." And Crom bless him, he even points out that these too are the heroes who fought to ensure all Americans' rights, not to take anything away from veterans, but damn it's good to hear a candidate willing to say that
The freedoms that we have were purchased not just by those in uniform -- and they definitely were -- but also by those who took their lives into their hands riding those Greyhound buses, the Freedom Riders in the deep South in the 1960s who knew full well that they would be arrested, and they were, serving time in the Mississippi State Penitentiary.
And among those heroes, O'Rourke adds, are those who take a knee in protest of the killing of unarmed black men, teenagers, and even children who "are being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement, without accountability and without justice."
Of the NFL players and their protest, O'Rourke says,
I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights anytime, anywhere, any place."
And that's the real meaning of patriotism, Charlie Brown.
We should add that the video above isn't quite the one that went viral; the one that went big on Twitter was this thing from Now This News, which added a bunch of unnecessary glurge-y music that actually diminishes the effectiveness of the answer if you ask us (and you did, because here we are).
Ted Cruz, as if compelled to prove why he's the least liked member of the Senate, decided it would be real smart to portray O'Rourke as an out of touch liberal who hates the national anthem. Completely blowing off all those examples of civil rights troublemakers, Cruz tried to get some mileage from O'Rourke's conclusion, because what sort of monster would ever think protest solved anything?
"When Beto O'Rourke says he can't think of anything more American (than players taking a knee), well I got to tell you, I can," Cruz said to loud applause.
As an example, Cruz noted that service members on military posts around the nation routinely salute the flag and stand at attention whenever the anthem is played.
Yeah, Ted, O'Rourke definitely said he's against the flag and military service, you cheap lying idiot. If anything, Cruz's pissiness seems like a really bad strategy: It's bringing even more attention to the video, and O'Rourke comes out looking like a statesman who's ready to bring people together. It's unclear whether Cruz will get much mileage out of flogging the flag fetish -- it certainly does the job for some folks -- but a whole lot of people on Twitter who seemed lukewarm on O'Rourke are talking about him now like he's the Bill Clinton of 1992 or that charming Obama fellow of the 2004 Dem convention. Or at the very least, like he's the guy to finally flip Texas blue for the first time in ages.
In other words, get ready for Cruz to ask where O'Rourke was really born. Or not, because it wasn't Canada.
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[Texas Monthly / Caller Times / BuzzFeed News]
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.