‘Business Report’ Publisher: A sad day in America

What happened in Las Vegas is almost beyond comprehension. How could 58 people be murdered and almost 500 injured while enjoying a country music festival? This was one of the saddest days in our country’s history—and an example of pure evil with no apparent reason by a lone gunman. Please pray for the victims and their families.

Of course, it was also sad to see many rush to exploit this tragedy for political gain without consideration for the grieving families. Disgusting.

Once again, a national tragedy turned political. CBS attorney Hayley Geftman-Gold got fired for her outrageous comments. A Facebook post by her said, “If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing. I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters.”

Two questions come to my mind after witnessing all this. First, is there any place anymore that is safe from such evil or madness in the world? And secondly, are there any boundaries that remain for civil discourse, respectful disagreements or public debate—or have politics and the internet destroyed that? And I direct this at Democrats and Republicans, whites and blacks, young and old—and the President Trump: This daily “act-react” on social media doesn’t seem to provide solutions—just angry noise and fuel to the fire of division. America must do better.

Respect for our nation

I know everyone has an opinion on the recent protest by NFL players who knelt during the national anthem. I believe the players are wrong, and find it disrespectful and an inappropriate forum to express one’s personal politics. Sure, I believe in the First Amendment, but fans pay good money to come see a football game, not attend a political rally by athletes, many of whom I’m guessing didn’t even vote in the last election.

I believe the players are wrong, and find it disrespectful and an inappropriate forum to express one’s personal politics.

Instead of kneeling or raising a fist, what if the players just turned their back to the flag and gave “the finger” to the fans. Wouldn’t that be protected speech? Would the TV cameras show that? Would the team owners join them? Or would some say, “Well, that’s offensive.”

I—and millions of Americans—believe players kneeling during the anthem is giving “the finger” to our nation and all that it stands for. In addition to players, fans are not excused from being respectful of the flag and anthem by standing, removing hats and being quiet during the anthem—a tradition that should unite us.

However, there are those who disagree and view this controversy as the ultimate respect for America and its values. They argue that what is remarkable is that we have the freedom to do these things. While I value the freedom and acknowledge the right, I believe it is wrong and an abuse of the privilege by those who have the field for sport. Should others who disagree with players have time on the field to hold signs and protest players during pre-game in front of the cameras and America?

Ironically, lost in all the controversy are the reasons behind Colin Kaepernick’s initial protests: police brutality and social injustice in America. Many would be willing to have that debate, but he chose the wrong venue to protest and turned fans into enemies. No player, politician or person is bigger than the flag and anthem. Only God himself. It appears most of the player’s recent protest came from mere reaction to a hostile speech and tweets by Trump.

If the players want to protest, they should take it outside and out of uniform, and hold press conferences or even marches on Monday morning. Don’t try to cash in on the captive football audience and exploit your access to the national TV cameras in what becomes cheap political theater. Why not put some effort into it if your beliefs mean that much to you. Work the streets, not the gridiron.

I wouldn’t go to church and expect the pastor to protest about a bad restaurant experience instead of preaching. And I wouldn’t go to the symphony and be pleased to see each musician take a knee or lock arms in protest and then have the conductor lecture me on how to vote. While the First Amendment would allow it, I am here for music. That’s what I paid for. The NFL is about football.

I still am not sure what the players think they have accomplished—or intend to. There has been no dialogue resulting in better understanding—just mostly anger.

I still am not sure what the players think they have accomplished—or intend to. There has been no dialogue resulting in better understanding—just mostly anger. Fans are burning jerseys and turning off their TV sets and going crazy on social media. Respect for the NFL and its brand is in decline, and that is to be expected.

Just ask former NFL quarterback Kaepernick, who started the protest. He later wore the socks with police “pigs” to practice. He also wore a T-shirt to a postgame press conference with communist Fidel Castro’s photo on it. (How did this further his cause?) He has that freedom and right in America, which despite its faults, is the greatest nation on earth. But he also has learned, you reap what you sow.

Another test for Baton Rouge         

Will Baton Rouge “think different” and consider all the talent available in America to lead our metropolitan airport—or just do what we often have and promote the No. 2? Metro Councilman Trae Welch, a member of the airport commission, a year ago said a national search committee would be selected. He misled us. Now he says, “We’ve had a 16-year search with Ralph (Hennessy) under Anthony (Marino). We’ve seen what he is able to do. Why do we need a search for someone who isn’t from here?” Others in town seem to have their reasons.

Airport commissioners like Jim Ellis (served three years as chairman), Andrew McCandless (chairman until he resigned amid this controversy) and Cleve Dunn Jr.  (current chairman)—who have all worked with Hennessy for years too—disagree with Welch and feel a national search is in order and Hennessey can be a candidate. So does Metro Councilwoman Barbara Freiberg, who will bring the item to the council for a vote.

The chamber also supports a national search, and BRAC President Adam Knapp said, “The airport is a critical asset to the
future of the business community and the region’s economic competitiveness.” I agree and believe the citizens deserve a national search.

Vote on Oct. 14

Election day is this Saturday. You may have to vote in the morning due to an afternoon game at Tiger Stadium, or road trip to Jackson, Mississippi, for Jaguar fans. Regardless, find the time to make your voice heard.

Decisions will be made for state treasurer, Public Service Commission, Baton Rouge City Judge, one EBR school board race and and three amendments to our state constitution.  Study the candidates and issues and exercise your right to vote.  My recommendations to voters are listed here.


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