It’s already common knowledge that football coach Mike Ditka isn’t the biggest Colin Kaepernick fan in the world. But Ditka went one step further in a discussion about the NFL protests on Monday, stupifying the internet with his statement that America hasn’t seen any oppression in the last 100 years.
The former football coach and commentator chatted with Westwood One’s Jim Gray while the Chicago Bears prepared to face off against the Minnesota Vikings. And during the conversation, Ditka shared some of his political views on kneeling during the national anthem in the NFL, questioning whether players should even bother doing it.
“Is that the stage for this?” Ditka said, the Chicago Tribune reports. “If you want to protest, or whatever you want to protest, you’ve got a right to do that, but I think you’re a professional athlete, you have an obligation to the game.”
Ditka argued that players weren’t showing “respect for the game” when they kneeled, just “respect for their own individual opinions.” He thinks players should protest on their own time, instead of shining a light on police brutality and systemic racism before football games.
“If you don’t respect our country, then you shouldn’t be in this country playing football,” Ditka said. “Go to another country and play football… If you can’t respect the flag and the country, then you don’t respect what this is all about. So I would say, adios.”
Ditka’s patently conservative opinion on the matter seems to stem from his views on social injustice in the U.S. During the pregame show, he admitted that he doesn’t believe there’s oppression in America, although he admits that he just might not be looking hard enough.
“All of a sudden, it’s become a big deal now, about oppression,” Ditka said. “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of.”
Of course, that isn’t true. At all. And yet, Ditka, a white man, went on.
“I mean, I don’t see all this, the social injustice that some of these people see,” Ditka said. “I don’t. I know my dad worked in a steel mill and he brought home a paycheck and we ate dinner every night together. We didn’t have anything, but we didn’t need anything because we had a family. That was a good time in America. I would like to see us get back to that.”
Sounds a lot like Ditka wants to Make America Great Again. After all, he supported President Donald Trump in 2016, so his nostalgia for the 1940s isn’t exactly surprising. Twitter, though, isn’t taking very kindly to Ditka’s opinion, pointing out that he’s been alive for everything from Rosa Parks’ arrest to Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
Mike Ditka said there hasn’t been oppression since 1917 😑😑😑
Jim Crow ended in 1964 pic.twitter.com/r9t65BkI48
— Juice Man 🇺🇸 (@juicekan) October 10, 2017
MIke Ditka: There hasn't been any oppression over the last 100 years.
Ditka was 16 when Rosa Parks was arrested and 29 when MLK was shot.
— Donald J Orwell (@DonaldJOrwell) October 10, 2017
Says "There hasn't been racial oppression in 100 years", goes on to tell minorities what they have and haven't experienced –#MikeDitka
— socialism with parmigian characteristics (@RUDESPEAKER) October 10, 2017
Then, of course, there is the right now. Right now, there is still a lot of discrimination in the workplace, in housing, in the judicial system, in the prison system against people of color, against women, against the LGBTQ community, against religious minorities, and against people with disabilities—and some of this has even been sanctioned by the federal government. Black citizens are regularly shot by police, LGBTQ Americans have been targeted and killed, sex workers are stigmatized for their trade, and even Ditka’s own sport has faced racism and homophobia from coaches and players.
But apparently, Ditka doesn’t see any of that. I wonder what could be causing his blindness?