I’m finding it pretty hard to hate the black NFL players who for more than a year have protested what they believe is the unfair way black people in this country are treated by some — not all — law enforcement agencies and officers. On this point, I think a few questions are in order. Don’t official statistics maintained by responsible agencies in this country show that black Americans are, in fact, far more likely to be unfairly treated by law enforcement officials than white people? Aren’t they far more likely than white people to lose their lives in instances where an officer uses deadly force against them? If that is so, isn’t it reasonable for black athletes who regularly give white sports fans enormous satisfaction to ask something in return, namely, to take them seriously when they ask American society to pay attention to what happens to young black men in their encounters with law enforcement officials?

Isn’t it also pretty reasonable for them to view the unnecessary death of a young black person in such an encounter far more important than the singing of a patriotic song or the reverence for a mere flag? And why shouldn’t they use such patriotic ceremonies as an occasion to ask America to give them and their fellow Americans a fair shake and every bit the same full and fair reasons to love their country as white Americans? Isn’t it pretty hypocritical for white Americans to ask to pay more attention to a patriotic ceremony than to the very lives of young black people whose lives are lost?

There are many more questions I could ask, but I will cease with these questions. Isn’t it the job of a U.S. president to represent all Americans and never, ever, to use his tongue to make profane public insults of young black athletes in this country? Isn’t it a fact that no U.S. president has ever— not once, not ever — used the power of his office to single out private individuals for personal slanders in the way our current president did the other day? Don’t all Americans — white and black — have a right to ask and deserve more from their president than this kind of shameful spectacle?

— David A. Lee, Ottawa