Where to start? It is tempting to go straight to the January 6, 2021, Capitol uprising, with the House committee investigating those events holding a prime-time hearing on Thursday. This sad day was a deadly threat to our democracy. Del Rio reduced it to “a dust”. We will come to that.
But what emerges from Del Rio’s words and actions is the dividing line he wants to draw between the protests that rocked the country two summers ago because police continue to kill black people and the protests on Capitol Hill that were fueled by baseless claims of a stolen election. It’s hard to tie the two together, but Del Rio pulled it off.
Review: On Monday night, he responded to a tweet about a Brookings Institution report that claimed to tell the “full story” of what happened on Jan. 6 with the following tweet: “Would love to understand” the whole the story “.why the summer of riots, looting, fires and destruction of personal property is never discussed, but it is ??? #common sense”
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday after an off-season COs workout, Del Rio didn’t back down. Instead, he grabbed a shovel and started digging.
“What did I ask? Simple question,” Del Rio said in comments he later issued a narrow apology for. “Why don’t we look into these things if we’re going to talk about them?” Why don’t we look at these things? … I can watch pictures on television – people’s livelihoods are being destroyed. Businesses are set on fire. No problem.
“And then we have a dust in the Capitol, nothing burned, and we’re going to make it a major deal. I just think it’s sort of two standards, and if we apply the same standard and that we’re going to be reasonable with each other, let’s talk about it. That’s all it was.
First, his apologies. It said, in part, “Referring to this situation as dust was irresponsible and negligent and I’m sorry.” A good start. But what he never acknowledged was the offensive idea that the violence in these two cases is of similar origin.
The summer of 2020 will go down as one of the most important racial reckoning points of the past 100 years. The violence Del Rio refers to stems from one of the most horrific facts of American life: that the color of your skin affects your likelihood of being abused or killed by the police who are sworn to protect us. It reached a boiling point because of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but who was predeceased by Breonna Taylor in Louisville; who was predeceased by Stephon Clark in Sacramento; who was predeceased by Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota; who was preceded by Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Walter Scott in North Charleston, SC, and Tamir Rice in Cleveland.
The list is longer than that, and the anger that spilled over this summer has been simmering for decades. It was based on real lives wrongfully lost. I’ll never know what it’s like to live with this fear and this rage. Neither did Jack Del Rio.
But we can try to understand and listen – to have a discussion, as Del Rio suggested. That’s what the Del Rio team did after 29-year-old black Jacob Blake was shot and killed by Wisconsin police. On that day in August 2020, the then Washington football team canceled practice to hold a team-wide discussion on racism and social justice.
“[Team president] Jason Wright and I have been working this afternoon to develop a response that has the right balance between the business of football and being really mindful of the social injustice we have witnessed with this latest incident in Wisconsin,” the official said. Coach Ron Rivera in a statement at the time.
It remains a prominent problem in American society. This remains a top issue for the NFL and many of its teams. It’s a central question for Wright, the team’s first black president. It’s no coincidence that earlier this week the Commanders chose the theme for one of their home games “Inspire Change,” when FedEx Field hosts black-owned businesses for a holiday market. Among other things, the protests following Floyd’s death have forced the majority-white groups that run NFL teams to listen to their majority-black players.
This is the workplace in which Del Rio is supposed to be a leader. Instead, he wants to compare the violence that erupted after generations of inequality and oppression – both entrenched and infuriating issues – with the violence that followed the misconception that the 2020 election was stolen. to President Donald Trump.
Reduce the horror of Jan. 6 – lawmakers and their staff standing against doors and rushing through hallways as armed crowds broke through barriers and blockades – to “a dust” in which “nothing burned is a level of misjudgment that Del Rio doubled down on Wednesday. But linking it to the riots that followed the murder of a black man at the hands of police – a death that followed so many others like him – is so offensive it borders on disqualification.
Condemn violence in all its forms. But differentiate between fact and fiction, between systemic failures and vast conspiracies.
Del Rio boss Rivera ducked the chance to publicly rebuke his defensive coordinator on Wednesday.
“If it becomes an issue, a situation, then we’ll have that discussion,” Rivera told reporters before Del Rio addressed them. “But for now, it’s something I’ll deal with when it happens.”
It happened. What must Wright be thinking? We do not know yet. A spokesman for the commanders declined to comment when asked for the team president’s reaction.
“I love the fact that I’m American, and that means I’m free to express myself,” Del Rio said.
In effect. The government cannot – and should not – have the right to go after Del Rio for what he tweeted on Monday or what he said on Wednesday. His employer, however, is another matter. Jack Del Rio represents the Washington commanders. It’s up to the leadership of the franchise — over Wright and over Rivera — to gauge whether that’s the message they want to send to their locker room and their fan base.
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