People who work in sports are not obligated to “stick to sports,” even when you disagree with them. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has no such obligation, though the comments he made after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas that took the lives of 19 children and two teachers showed a nearly complete misunderstanding of modern politics and how they work… and more importantly, how they don’t work.
“I’m not going to get into some political rant,” Smith recently said, per Josh Kendall of The Athletic. “Part of me thinks our political process is broken. On both sides. It has been hijacked, in my opinion, by extremists. I think there is a lost art to compromise. I’m an independent thinker, appreciate everyone’s opinion. There’s a lost art to debate, but I’m going to stay out of the political debate because that’s now why I’m concerned. It’s more as a parent, father, husband, son, a concerned citizen. I believe in the people of this county, and I think it’s a shame the leaders, and I don’t care about your politics, that you can’t find a compromise solution to keep military grade assault weapons out of the hands of mentally ill people.”
While Smith’s idea that military-grade assault weapons should not be in the hands of mentally ill people, the current conversations regarding gun control and regulation aren’t as nuanced as Smith would like them to be. The concept of politicians reaching across the aisle to work in concert on bills and laws that protect the public? Those days are gone. You often hear that America is more polarized than it has been at any time since the Civil War, and there’s a lot to that. As to the idea that extremists on both sides have ruined any chance of compromise, it’s hard to find an “extremist” on the Democrat side of things you can point to.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat who supports more common-sense gun laws but opposes rule changes to the filibuster that might actually make things happen, recently had this to say.
MANCHIN on gun talks: “I’ve never been in this frame of mind, I can't get my grandchildren out of my mind.”
Manchin said talks this time around feel very different.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) May 26, 2022
Manchin said that “It makes no sense why we can’t do common sense things to try to prevent some of this from happening. It’s just unbelievable how we got here as a society.”
And yet, about the filibuster: “You would think there’d be enough common sense. The filibuster is the only thing that prevents us from total insanity.”
One might argue that we’re closer to total insanity than we’re completely aware.
Republicans have a far more problematic history on this subject. Thoughts and prayers are always on schedule when these mass shootings happen; action is quite a bit more scarce.
As for Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas… well, the history isn’t good.
Here is what Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been doing to protect your children: pic.twitter.com/bikGxDn1dy
— Liam Nissan™ (@theliamnissan) May 27, 2022
Why is this so? Protection of the second amendment has long been a Republican talking point. Beyond that… sometimes, it’s as easy as following the money.
Senators bankrolled by the NRA:
Mitt Romney: $13,648,000
Richard Burr: $6,987,000
Roy Blunt: $4,556,000
Thom Tillis: $4,421,000
Marco Rubio: $3,303,000
Joni Ernst: $3,125,000
Josh Hawley: $1,392,000
Mitch McConnell: $1,267,000
Ted Cruz: $176,000
An absolute disgrace.
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) May 25, 2022
The purpose of this article is not to go down this particular rabbit hole; that’s not our job at Touchdown Wire. But when an NFL head coach points to a rot in political discourse, blaming it on extremists from “both sides,” it does beg the question: Which extremists have done so on one side, and which have not on the other? And how often does this happen regarding all potential laws?
In January, Manchin was encouraged by some prominent football names, among them Nick Saban, Paul Tagliabue, and Oliver Luck, to support the Freedom To Vote act. He eventually did, though the legislation failed when no Republicans supported it.
As mass shooting after mass shooting happens, the question becomes altogether more important. It is both sides, or one side against the other?