USA Today columnist Nancy Armour recently published a deeply wrong, racist, and offensive column in which she claims that Tom Brady “has gotten an undeserved pass for his past support of Donald Trump” because he is white. Contrary to Armour’s claim, Brady has not gotten a pass because he is white. He has gotten a pass because, well, he did nothing wrong. As difficult as this may be to comprehend for those who subscribe to the intolerant ideology of political correctness, people have the right to endorse any political candidates they want. It is disturbing that expressing support for Trump is presumed to be something morally wrong, for which a person deserves to be punished.
“How mighty white of him,” Armour writes with respect to the fact that Brady once had a MAGA hat in his locker and endorsed Trump in the 2016 election. “Brady’s ability to enter and exit the debate at his choosing, to shield himself from accountability, is the height of white privilege. As this country grapples with the far reaches of systemic racism, look no further than Brady, for whom the expectations, and allowances granted, will always be different.”
The column also quotes author David Leonard, who says that “Whiteness is the benefit of the doubt… He reaps the benefits that we as white Americans reap each and every day in different contexts.”
Silly me. I thought that whiteness was a skin color. Both Leonard’s allegation and Armour’s “how mighty white of him” comment are blatantly racist.
Armour’s column is based on an idea first put forth by Shannon Sharpe on his Fox Sports show. The talk show host alleged that Brady “got a pass” for having praised Trump, while a hypothetical black athlete who praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan would have been “canceled.”
I disagree with this claim. In today’s society, white athletes, and white people in general, are overall subjected to harsher criticism than their black counterparts. Additionally, public figures who express support for right-leaning causes or candidates are criticized much more harshly in our society than those who express support for left-wing causes and candidates. As evidence of this, one need look no further than the near-unanimous support across all professional sports for the Black Lives Matter movement. Not once has any athlete, or public figure, been criticized for supporting this movement, despite the fact that its supporters have perpetrated widespread and horrific destruction of cities, businesses, and irreplaceable works of art.
“Brady has been allowed to divorce himself from it while Black athletes are made to own their views in perpetuity,” Armour writes of the QB’s past Trump support. “There is no end in sight to Colin Kaepernick’s blackballing, even though his protests to bring attention to police brutality of Black and brown people have proven to be an alarm we should not have ignored.” This contention ignores the fact that Kaepernick’s behavior – wearing socks depicting police officers as pigs and demanding (successfully) that Nike stop producing a patriotic sneaker with a Betsy Ross flag on it – is reprehensible and his “blackballing” therefore completely justified. And the fact that despite this behavior, Kaepernick is hailed almost unanimously as a hero and a victim of unjust treatment, while Brady is harshly and incessantly criticized, as the existence of Armour’s column demonstrates.
Armour describes it as a privilege that Brady has not been asked about his views on the January 6th protest and that he is “not asked to speak for white America.” She writes: “Even Brady’s aversion to talking about politics or current events is itself a form of privilege. Like other white athletes, Brady is seen as an individual in a way minority athletes never are.” Leonard echoes these sentiments, saying: “Seeing sports and living sports as an uncontested space is the privilege of whiteness. It’s the privilege of being a man. It’s the privilege of being a heterosexual athlete. That is a luxury that Black athletes and other marginalized and disempowered athletes have never been afforded.”
First of all, there is no such thing as “white America,” and it is racist and think and speak in such terms. Additionally, I disagree with the allegation that minority athletes, female athletes, and gay athletes are never seen as individuals. I also disagree with the claim that it is a privilege and a luxury to be seen as an individual or to have the choice of whether or not to discuss current events. Being able to express one’s views on politics and current events, or alternatively, to opt not to do so, is a right, not a privilege.
Armour closes by criticizing Brady’s “moral cowardice.” She writes that “celebrating what he’s done while turning a blind eye to what he has not is a privilege Brady does not deserve.” Actually, it is Armour who is demonstrating moral cowardice. And having one of the nation’s most well-known and widely-read newspapers as a platform from which to spew her pompous, mean-spirited, racist nonsense is a privilege that she does not deserve.
Thankfully, Fox Radio host Clay Travis had some sensible words to say about this situation. “Do [74.2] million Americans who voted for Donald Trump have to answer for their support?” he asked. “That’s what America is. It’s a democracy. I voted for Donald Trump… Nobody ever has to apologize when they support a Democratic or left-wing politician in the world of sports. Why in the world should Tom Brady have to apologize for supporting the former president of the United States? I think that’s what makes American sports so fantastic. It cuts across our racial, our ethnic, our socioeconomic, our political divisions and brings us all together. And I hope on Sunday we can all sit down, grab a beer, have some nachos, and enjoy one of the greatest games of all time regardless of who the politicians are supported by the players on the field.”
Amen to that.