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  • Writer's pictureMichael Johnsen

Stand against racism, why kneel?

Racism is abhorrent, at all levels.

The death of George Floyd sparked a global outcry against police brutality and inspired the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The police officer responsible has since been convicted and sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison, although he is appealing the conviction.

Mr Floyd may not have been a model citizen but that’s no reason to use deadly force.

Since this tragic event, BLM has used social pressure to encourage, or shame, many high profile people such as athletes, to ‘go down on one knee and raise a clenched fist’. Both symbols of fighting oppression and racism. At least, that’s what we are meant to believe.

The raising of the fist dates to the early 1900’s in times of political tension and ideological battles.

Michael Johnsen Opinion
In 1936, a Parisian crowd demonstrates its support for the Popular Front, a coalition of socialists, communists, and other anti-fascist organizations. Photograph by Robert Capa, International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos. Source: National Geographic - James Stout, 2020

But critics of the symbol note its origin and long use with communist movements – a history so fraught that, until recently, many left-wing protesters hesitated to use the iconic image.

"It is a symbol used by movements that establish oppressive systems, as every system established along Marxist lines has been," Murray Bessette, a former professor of government at Morehead State University and now with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, told Fox News.

Where does the take a knee movement come from?

It started during the American football pre-season in 2016 when the San Francisco 49ers’ black quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat instead of standing during the national anthem.

By the fourth game, the gesture, which he said was intended to raise awareness of police brutality towards African Americans, had become a national talking point.

I understand the sentiment, I cannot understand the attitude.

If you don’t kneel and raise your fist, you must support racism. If you’re not racist and won’t do what we say, you will need to explain yourself. And while you’re at it, we will use our influence to cancel you from society.

Under enormous pressure and blindly following the double standards of cancel culture, Cricket South Africa announced a directive for all team members to take the knee, after the team was criticised for not having a uniform stance prior to a match against Australia.

As a result, South African cricket star Quinton de Kock pulled out of his side's eight-wicket Twenty20 World Cup win over the West Indies.

He did so in opposition to the edict from Cricket South Africa that the team was to kneel before the game.

Stand against racism, why kneel? by Michael Johnsen
© Provided by ABC Grandstand Quinton de Kock (left) was replaced as captain by Temba Bavuma (right) in March. (Getty Images: Gareth Copley-ICC)

As someone who sees nothing but the person, regardless of colour or background, I cannot understand why the political ideology of those that profess to be ‘progressives’, demonise other people for showing their support in different ways.

I would not ‘take the knee’, just as I would not treat anyone else different to myself.

Having spent decades looking after other people, providing opportunity, giving a lift to those that need it, I have seen the good in most and I trust people’s judgement on their matters, and I will stand with them.

I don’t need to be bullied into kneeling or any other gesture, to simply treat everyone with respect.

Michael Johnsen


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