September 27th, 2017

On anthems and demonstrations: remember the 1968 Olympics?

Being as old as I am, the bended-knees of the NFL immediately brought this incident to mind:

For those of you who weren’t around back then or who’ve forgotten, here’s what it was all about.

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes. There’s a lot of rhyming between the late 60s/early70s and now, isn’t there? One big difference, though, is that Smith and Carlos acted during a time when the struggle for black civil rights still had quite a way to go (for example, the landmark Voting Rights Act had only been passed in 1965). Another difference is that they were disciplined heavily by the Olympics as a result. Still another difference (and one that I doubt most people remember; I didn’t) was that they had some specific things they were protesting, and some specific demands, in addition to their more general complaints about racism:

As people railed against Apartheid in South Africa and racial segregation in the United States, Smith and Carlos raised their fists to show solidarity with people fighting internationally for human rights. They were booed and forced out of the Games by the president of the International Olympic Committee at the time, Avery Brundage. The third man on the podium, a white Australian named Peter Norman, was vilified by his home nation for wearing his OPHR badge in solidarity.

As a member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) he originally advocated a boycott of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games unless four conditions were met: South Africa and Rhodesia uninvited from the Olympics, the restoration of Muhammad Ali’s world heavyweight boxing title, Avery Brundage to step down as president of the IOC, and the hiring of more African-American assistant coaches. As the boycott failed to achieve support after the IOC withdrew invitations for South Africa and Rhodesia, he decided, together with Carlos, to not only wear their gloves but also go barefoot to protest poverty, wear beads to protest lynchings, and wear buttons that said OPHR.

Some people…(particularly IOC president Avery Brundage) felt that a political statement had no place in the international forum of the Olympic Games. In an immediate response to their actions, Smith and Carlos were suspended from the U.S. team by Brundage and voluntarily moved from the Olympic Village. Brundage, who was president of the United States Olympic Committee in 1936, had made no objections against Nazi salutes during the Berlin Olympics. The Nazi salute, being a national salute at the time, was accepted in a competition of nations, while the athletes’ salute was not of a nation and so was considered unacceptable.

A mere four years later, in 1972, there was a similar protest by two American athletes, sometimes called “The Forgotten Protest.” They went a bit further than Smith and Carlos:

The 1972 Olympics Black Power Salute was a political protest by two US Olympic runners Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett…

Both runners refused to stand for the US National Anthem. They subsequently stroked their beards, and twirled their medals as they left the stadium. The crowd booed both runners for their display.

The Associated Press noted that the casual behavior of Matthews and Collett during the playing of the anthem as “disrespectful”…

The pair were banned from future Olympic competition by the IOC; since John Smith had pulled a hamstring 80 meters into the final while leading and had been ruled unfit to run, the USA were now unable to field a team in the 4 × 400 m relay and were forced to scratch from the event.

The visuals:

These sorts of displays ended; I’m not sure when, but I think some time during the 1970s. In recent years, black athletes have stood tall and proud while accepting their medals. I haven’t done research on whether there might have been some isolated protests during the ensuing years, but I don’t remember any of note until Colin Kaepernick decided to revive the genre and change the body language into a kneel.

Here’s some trenchant commentary on today’s NFL goings-on:

[NOTE: Of course, there were other much more sobering events at the Olympics of 1972 that grabbed headlines from Matthews and Collett].

28 Responses to “On anthems and demonstrations: remember the 1968 Olympics?”

  1. Griffin Says:

    Michael Bennett of the Seahawks has done the black power fist thing a few times this season. He fancies himself a champion for equality when he’s not driving around in his Rolls Royce and spending his $10 million a year salary that is. Funny how equality can sometimes be very arbitrary.

  2. Griffin Says:

    And Bennett was a huge Bernie Sanders supporter too. So tools around in a Rolls and makes millions of dollars a year and lectures us non stop about all of the problems of the country and is an avid supporter of a socialist for president. Can’t make this stuff up sometimes.

  3. miklos000rosza Says:

    The guy in the video here is good. He gets better and better the more of it you see.

  4. Cornflour Says:

    I just learned about an alternative to the NFL.

    Here’s a statement from The LFL (Legends Football League) about protesting the flag and anthem:

    “The LFL recognizes everyone’s First Amendment right to protest, but our nation’s flag and anthem are far too sacred. Too many fellow Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice, so that our flag and anthem continue in all its majesty.”

    The LFL used to be called the “Lingerie Football League.”

    Here’s a Youtube link to their anthem statement:

    Maybe Neo could do a fashion analysis. Something for everyone.

  5. parker Says:

    As the man in the video laments, what have these sports millioares done to benefit the people in the ‘hoods’? Or am I unaware of black professional players foundation for black youth?

  6. Oldflyer Says:

    Some defend this as exercising their First Amendment rights to “free speech”. I don’t know whether that is pure ignorance, pure hypocrisy, or a little of each.

    I wonder if anyone can remember when a citizen, or even an illegal alien, was prosecuted for speech, or symbolic actions? I can’t.

    I feel strongly that a Nation’s symbols matter; and that disrespect for the symbols is disrespect for the nation as a whole. So, in my mind, these actions are not trivial. While punitive governmental response is not appropriate, there is no reason that employer’s should tolerate such behavior while on the job. If they do tolerate it, then the market place will have a voice. The irony that pampered millionaires, who are in the entertainment business, are at the center of this foolishness has been noted.

    As for the earlier Olympians. I understand that they acted in a time when there were legitimate grievances. On the other hand they agreed to represent the country internationally, and they received generous benefits for doing so. I have no respect for their actions either.

  7. steve walsh Says:

    Who is that guy in the video? Amazing clarity.

    His most salient point is this: people do this because it is trendy.

    The folks doing the protesting, such as it is, risk nothing by their protest so they are, in my assessment, cowards. Put something you value at risk, then I’ll listen to your protest.

  8. Dave Says:

    you have the free speech to cruse at my mom too doesn’t mean it is appropriate

  9. Cornflour Says:

    On a more serious note, I can vividly remember the Mexico City Olympics. I was young and a pretty good miler. Lots of people look back on that time as the golden age of American track and field, and I was enthusiastic like only a teenager can be.

    I was also very anti-war and pro-civil rights. Even so, when I saw John Carlos and Tommie Smith raise their fists, I had no sympathies at all. It was stupid and misguided, both then and now.

    Much of this is symptomatic of a broken culture. For many black athletes, nothing’s more important than building street cred. In the past, as their talent inevitably faded, some tried to become professional radicals, paid by universities or NGOs. But today’s NFL and NBA athletes are so rich, they’ll never need another paycheck, so political posturing becomes a way to keep up the ego and the cred.

  10. Gringo Says:

    But today’s NFL and NBA athletes are so rich, they’ll never need another paycheck

    Not a few of those highly paid athletes- both black and white- end up bankrupt.

    The speaker in the video was eloquent.

  11. J.J. Says:

    To the young man in the video: Preach it brother! A great deal of wisdom for a young man. Wish that I had been as wise at that age.

  12. Bill Says:

    I need to watch the video. I will. Only have a few moments now, but wanted to respond to this

    The folks doing the protesting, such as it is, risk nothing by their protest so they are, in my assessment, cowards. Put something you value at risk, then I’ll listen to your protest.

    There’s a very reasonable case to he made that Kaepernick is unemployed today because of his stance. With all the backlash players kneeling are risking their jobs.

    In fact the President of the United States is urging owners to fire the sons of bitches

    I think they are risking something. You may disagree. If I were a player, especially a marginal one (the average NFL career is only a few years) it would certainly enter into my calculations.

  13. Yankee Says:

    This taking a knee nonsense with the NFL is wrong on so many levels. Respectful behavior during the national anthem is firstly a basic civic activity that binds a nation together. Taking a knee is being intentionally divisive.

    Secondly, the football stadium is not the forum for speech-making or criticism. The players are supposed to be there to play football and win the game. The spectators are there for entertainment; the game is a diversion from life, including politics. Taking a knee politicizes the sport and insults the fans.

    It’s appalling that many figures in sports, the media, and politics are ignorant of the requirements of basic civility. These demonstrations signal a decline in social cohesion, national unity, and a shared culture, as well as an understanding of appropriate behavior.

    Civility, patriotism, and sportsmanship are all far more important than this. Those are virtues to be celebrated, not these divisive protests.

  14. Mike K Says:

    Try going to work and protesting something. You had better be there on time, sober and in uniform. This is going to bite soon. Season tickets are sunk costs until next spring and many are bought be corporations that are as cowardly as anyone. As TV ratings drop, though, advertisers buy ads and most have guarantees of rating and audience size. When we see requests for refunds, all hell will break loose. I predict it will be soon.

  15. Oldflyer Says:

    Gringo, those who end up bankrupt do so as direct result of their own profligacy. Even the marginal ones make enough to provide a firm financial base. I wonder how many folks know how generous the NFL retirement package is? Almost like the Congress. I had a flight attendant who was engaged to an NFL lineman, a reserve at that, who retired after a couple of years because he just didn’t want to do it any longer. “It” being going to practice and sitting on the bench during the season to be ready. She was furious at his terminal dumbness, because in just another year or two he would have earned a life pension.
    Bill, you give them credit for thinking beyond the next joint, and calculating anything longer than–whatever. See the discussion about bankruptcy. It is true, however, that if there are any rational ones, they are trapped in a group- think, lock-step environment. Note the subsequent apology from the Steeler who ended up apologizing for straying from the herd.

  16. steve walsh Says:

    Hey Bill, very reasonable response but I think a couple of facts argue against your point of view:

    1. Kaepernick was under contract with SF and decided to opt out of his contract (as was his right to do so). It has also been reported that he turned down a couple of offers of employment in the NFL. So he is out of work by his choice.

    2. The NFL team owners, unanimously I think, support the players in this protest, so the players are risking little, if anything, by protesting. It seems to me they would risk more by refusing to join the protest (see: the player in Pittsburgh that left his protesting teammates in the tunnel so that he could respect the flag and anthem).

  17. neo-neocon Says:


    See this, this, this, this, this, and this. It’s my impression that a great many professional athletes give back to the community. It’s not necessarily well-publicized, but I’ve certainly heard about it, and I’m not really much of a sports fan.

  18. neo-neocon Says:



  19. parker Says:

    Ok, some give back, but taking a knee is not giving back…. taking a knee is saying hate your country and there has been no progress in race relations. It does exactly the opposite. Personally I blame Obama.

  20. Mr. Frank Says:

    The young man in the video is Brandon, Tatum, a Tucson cop and former college football player.

  21. brdavis9 Says:

    Fans in the stadiums are not reacting well to this …but the broadcasters are not showing the reaction of the fans.

    I’m tellin’ yez, the Deans skipping MNF this past week isn’t just an anecdotal snippet (well it is, but).

    It’s a sea change.

  22. arfldgrs Says:

    Kill the boer, kill the boer, anything left to say, kill the boer..

  23. arfldgrs Says:

    Black woman OWNS NFL NARRATIVE!

    thanks peggy

    on afrika now communist

    The South African farm attacks (Afrikaans: plaasmoorde; “plaas” = farm, “moorde” = murders) are an ongoing trend of violent attacks on farmers in South Africa. Between 1994 and March 2012, there had been 361,015 murders in all of South Africa and between 1990 and March 2012, there had been an estimated 1,544 murders on South African farms of which 208 of the victims were Black.

    South Africa’s Malema tells backers to seize white-owned land, defying court

    ‘Bury them alive!’: White South Africans fear for their future as horrific farm attacks escalate

    NEARLY every day, horrific acts of rape, torture and murder are carried out on a community under siege. WARNING: Graphic.

    LAST month, British woman Sue Howarth and her husband Robert Lynn were woken at 2am by three men breaking into a window of their remote farm in Dullstroom, a small town in the northeast of South Africa, about 240km from the nearest capital city.

    The couple, who had lived in the area for 20 years, were tied up, stabbed, and tortured with a blowtorch for several hours. The masked men stuffed a plastic bag down Mrs Howarth’s throat, and attempted to strangle her husband with a bag around his neck.

    The couple were bundled into their own truck, still in their pyjamas, and driven to a roadside where they were shot. Mrs Howarth, 64, a former pharmaceutical company executive, was shot twice in the head. Mr Lynn, 66, was shot in the neck.

    Miraculously he survived, and managed to flag down a passer-by early on Sunday morning. Mrs Howarth, who police said was “unrecognisable” from her injuries, had multiple skull fractures, gunshot wounds and “horrific” burns to her breasts.

    “Sue was discovered amongst some trees, lying in a ditch,” writes Jana Boshoff, reporter for the local Middelburg Observer newspaper. “Her rescuers managed to find her by following her groans of pain and then noticing drag marks from the road into the field.

    “Her head was covered with a towel. Her eyes were swollen shut. She was partially clothed with just scraps of her shirt remaining. Her breasts and upper body was bloody. The plastic bag, shoved down her throat, took some effort to remove because her jaw was clamped down tightly.

    “How she managed to breathe with the bag in her throat remains a mystery. One of her rescuers later recalled how Sue was unresponsive except for the constant groaning. Whilst the man ran back to the road to see if an ambulance has not arrived yet, she managed to curl one of her arms around her breasts in a last attempt to protect herself.”

    She was rushed to hospital and placed on life support, but died two days later. Due to her British nationality, her murder attracted an unusual amount of overseas media attention.

    if you want to see how she looks

    “The average murder ratio per 100,000 or the population in the world is nine, I believe. In South Africa, it is 54. But for the farming community it is 138, which is the highest for any occupation in the world.”

    In 2010, high-profile ANC member Julius Malema sang “Shoot the Farmer, Kill the Boer”, which Genocide Watch describes as “once a revolutionary song, but now an incitement to commit genocide”.

    AND its inspiring african america…
    Racial Apartheid in America
    Apartheid In America Looming? Please No | HuffPost
    Modern American Apartheid, Insidious and Undeclared
    United States, Israel opposed Mandela, supported Apartheid
    How is the United States not the original Apartheid state?

    Do note, that the idea is all white countries are apartheid states of some sort, as they llike jews are not to have a home.. or arent ya getting the hint? (the left is siding with the superior numbers to lead the winners… world wide, what is the numbers?)

    but hey
    excuse me while i crawl into an oven like my family did last century, or were shot, or had their entrails wrapped around a tree while alive.. – anything less is racist dont ya know and white supremecist… dont ya know..

  24. Bill Says:


    A more generous interpretation would be that they don’t hate their country and that they know race relations have improved, but that we’re not done solving the problem of racial animus in this country.

    As a white person, the biggest hurdle I had to get over recently was the belief I held (pretty firmly) that we are now a post-racial society and that there isn’t a problem anymore, and anyone who thinks there is is just “buying into victim mentality”

    I mentioned this a number of time on the other thread – a really good thing to do is talk to a couple black friends, people you know (not statistics, not generalizations) and ask them what they think about all this – from the general to the specific. Then (here’s the hard part) – just listen.

    I’m not saying you’ll agree, or that will fix anything. Heck, they might agree with YOU. But for me it was challenging to hear some things.

    GB on the other thread (someone I respect) repeatedly said the black community in America needs to “look in the mirror”. That is undoubtedly true. However – and please hear me out on this – I believe we all do.

  25. arfldgrs Says:

    Mike K Says:
    September 27th, 2017 at 8:30 pm
    Try going to work and protesting something.

    No problem, i am in academia, they let us go if we had pussy hats… now the ladies have lots of them… (funny, but somehow they think you can get ahead in equality – but i guess logic is not this groups strong suit (dont say that to them, they may hurt you. wont change anything, but their continued ability to ignore themselves))

    However the caveat is that i can only protest what they agree with… otherwise… they will do something… yes, its all illegal, but like the academic dragged off the plane for being a liar about allergies to force removal of a service dog… (boy was she surprised they took HER off the plane -by force.. saying, im an academic… like that is a monopoly card!!!)

  26. arfldgrs Says:

    Smith and Carlos acted during a time when the struggle for black civil rights still had quite a way to go (for example, the landmark Voting Rights Act had only been passed in 1965).

    yeah, long way BACK to what THEY and women HAD that the democrats took away and had to fight to get back (While blaming the people who got it back for them!!!!!!!!!!)

    When the 19th Amendment was formally on August 26, 1920, women already had full voting rights in 15 states, most of them west of the Mississippi River. [it was a states right thing. the federal took the vote away from the states… and the ladies fought to have federal votes in sufferage, ie. big goverment and undid states rights… which now is doing what?]

    For instance, single women owning property “worth fifty pounds” were allowed to vote in New Jersey between 1776 and 1807 before the right was restricted to white males. In 1838 Kentucky allowed widows with school-age children to vote in school elections, and Kansas followed in 1861.

    wait… feminists say women couldnt own property
    and despite the 7 sisters they couldnt go to college
    no harvard degree as we ignore radcliffs existence

    Women’s suffrage, however, was still nearly nonexistent when in 1869 William Bright, a saloonkeeper and president of the upper house of the Wyoming Territory, introduced a bill granting all female residents 21 years and older the right to vote. The bill passed both houses of the all-male legislature and was signed into law on December 10, 1869, by Republican Governor John Campbell.

    “Wyoming is the first place on God’s green earth which could consistently claim to be the land of the free!” declared women’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony. The neighboring territory of Utah quickly followed Wyoming’s lead by passing women’s suffrage in February 1870. The Western territories of Washington and Montana passed similar measures in the 1880s.

    Even after the adoption of the 19th Amendment, Wyoming continued to blaze a trail for women in politics when Nellie Tayloe Ross was elected the country’s first female governor in 1924

    but they couldnt hold office, but they did (even before the romans)…

    next the truth on this bs

  27. arfldgrs Says:

    1776 Only people who own land can vote
    Declaration of Independence signed.
    Right to vote during the Colonial and
    Revolutionary periods is restricted to pr
    operty owners—most of whom are white male
    Protestants over the age of 21.

    [but there were free blacks, like prince whipple, the ones that fought in the war, and even nasty ones like nat butler in the south who had a plantation and would bait them to resel them back!! they trusted him cause he was black, and they shouldnt have. there were also white slaves – indentured, and otherwise… ]

    1787 U.S. Constitution adopted. Because there
    is no agreement on a national standard for
    voting rights, states are given the power to
    regulate their own voting laws.

    so it was as said in the constitition, a states right issue
    which is why they had to manipulate to get control of the vote from the states… (a long line till today when you cant change candidates.. Trump being an obvious anomoly thye thought couldnt happen!!!)

    George Washington elected president.
    Only 6% of the population can vote.

    1790 Naturalization Law passed.
    It explicitly states that
    only “free white” immigrants
    can become naturalized citizens.

    [want to guess what groups? you have to guess, because when its inconvenient you dont get the roll of who voted or not on wiki, and you have to look it up!]

    1848 Women’s rights convention held in Se
    neca Falls, NY. Frederick Douglass, a
    newspaper editor and former slave, attend
    s the event and gives a speech supporting
    universal voting rights. His speech he
    lps convince the convention to adopt a
    resolution calling for voting rights for women.
    [notice how it ignored their being able to vote in 19 states… blacks could vote too…but the issue is always couched as women voting, or blacks voting, when actually it was to change the constitution to negate states rights – and wilson changing the law forced that issue!!!! as a progressive wanting to implement philip dru administrator, there could be no power other than federal]

    The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ends th
    e Mexican-American War and guarantees
    U.S. citizenship to Mexicans living in the
    territories conquered by
    the U.S.

    1856 North Carolina is the last state to remove
    property ownership as a requirement to
    vote. [no more states rights on voting, no more way to protect wealthy property from voters deciding it belongs to them, and the road to marxist communism started. communes like moses harmons sex thing, sanger, and all those would start to appear now that the federal has all the power of all the votes and does not have to deal with a greater power in the states, now made LESSER]

    1868 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution pa
    ssed. Citizenship is defined and granted
    to former slaves. Voters, however, are ex
    plicitly defined as male. Although the
    amendment forbids states from denying any ri
    ghts of citizenship, voting regulation is
    still left in the hands of the states.

    ah… SO THIS is why the democrats murdered blacks in the south… under this they became citizens, many owned property… women who owned property could vote too.. but that meant the progressive men and their wives and famillies would lose control

    so they started murdering blacks (and poor whites) to prevent htem from voting and changing the democrat power structure in the south (That they kept till the radical republicans later on pushed civil rights for all people. but at the FEDERAL LEVEL taking powers)

    1870 [six more years till hayes tilden and the democrats reign of terror hanging, mutliating, murdering, torturing, blowing up blacks in the south!!!!!! TO PREVENT THEM FROM VOTING IN THE HAYES TILDEN ELECTION

    1872 Susan B. Anthony is arrested and brought to trial in Rochester, New York, for attempting to vote in the presidential elect ion. At the same time, Sojourner Truth, a former slave and advocate for justice and equality, appears at a polling booth in Grand Rapids, Michigan, demanding a ballot but she is turned away.

    [remember they could vote already in other states. so they were doing this in the liberal progressive NY!!!!!!!!!!!!]

    1876 The Supreme Court rules that Native American
    s are not citizens as defined by the 14th
    Amendment and, thus, cannot vote. [blocking them from the hayes tilden election!!!! where the republican wanted what? more of this. and the democrat wanted what? control]

    1882 [after hayes tilden called and the history changed and people like eliza pinkerston and her congressional testimony were erased from the mind… ]
    The Chinese Exclusion Act bars people of Chinese ancestry from naturalizing to become U.S. citizens.

    again, democrats now a party antibellum, wanted to stop these other colors from having votes… and doing to them what they are doing now…

    1887 Dawes Act passed. It grants citizenship to
    Native Americans who give up their tribal affiliations [i suggest looking up who came up with the idea of bribery here]

    1890 Wyoming admitted to statehood and becomes
    first state to legislate voting for women in its constitution.

    its still a state right…

    1890 The Indian Naturalization Act grants
    citizenship to Native Americans whose
    applications are approved—similar to th
    e process of immigrant naturalization.

    1912-13 Women lead voting rights marches
    through New York and Washington, D.C.

    1919 Native Americans who served in the militar
    y during World War I are granted U.S.

    1920 29th amendment 19th Amendment passed, giving women right to vote in both state and federal elections.

    [where did the 15th go in this story? and timeline at TIME [1870]

    1922 – Asian≠White≠Citizen Supreme Court rules that people of Japanese heritage are ineligible to become naturalized citizens. In the next year, the Court finds that Asian Indians are also not eligible to naturalize.
    [actually caucasians born in asia werent allowed to, nationality confused with morphology for the same reason darwin and his bird beaks but, asian is a nationality, not a race – is it any wonder we are confused and attacking each other?] – Guess which party?

    1924 The Indian Citizenship Act grants citizens
    hip to Native Americans, but many states
    nonetheless make laws and policies which
    prohibit Native Americans from voting.
    [many states? who runs them? guess]

    1925 Congress bars Filipinos from U.S. citizenship
    unless they have served three years in the
    Navy. [dems still havent elected and black folk yet, but we have revel for ages and others on republican side voting against these things. once they win, dems play ingratiate and so on]

    1926 State violence used to prevent people
    from exercising their right to vote
    While attempting to register
    to vote in Birmingham, Alabama, a group of African
    American women are beaten by election officials.
    [which party? oh, and what happened to hayed tilden?]

    tired, have to go.

  28. Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup » Pirate's Cove Says:

    […] Neo-neocon jumps back to the late 1960’s for protests […]

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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