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America, a land of liberty and justice for some

By Leonard Pitts Jr., Tribune Content Agency on

Steve Loomis is angry.

Loomis, the head of Cleveland's police union, is using words like "hypocritical," "ignorant," and "offensive," and you might, for a wishful second, convince yourself he's talking about that day in 2014 when two Cleveland police skidded to a stop in front of a 12-year-old black boy playing with a toy gun in a park and instantly shot him to death.

Or about how they failed to render first aid and roughed up and handcuffed his teenage sister when she ran to him.

Or about how prosecutors declined to try them for the shooting.

You might, in other words, let yourself hope you were seeing some belated moral fortitude.

But no, Loomis was just talking about a football game.

In a statement made all the more amazing by the fact that it came from a police representative in the city where Tamir Rice was killed, Loomis told Cleveland.com last week that he's upset that members of the NFL's Cleveland Browns refused to stand for the national anthem during a recent preseason game. In response, he said, police, who had been scheduled to bear the American flag into the stadium this Sunday during pregame ceremonies, will refuse to take part.

Let us pass lightly over the fact that, in protesting a refusal to participate in a patriotic ritual, Loomis is refusing to participate in a patriotic ritual. It is more instructive to consider this in the context of all that has happened in the year since Colin Kaepernick ignited a wave of mostly (though not solely) African-American athletes protesting America's inequities and iniquities by refusing to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner."

As you may recall, his jersey was burned, he was savaged online, and singer Wayne Newton(!) said that if he didn't like it here, "Get the hell out." As the new season begins, Kaepernick, who was then with the San Francisco 49ers, finds himself mysteriously unemployed and unemployable. Meantime, Tucker Carlson of Fox "News" recently assured us there is no racism in football. Now, there is this.

And one can't escape a suspicion that the real offense here is ungrateful black men acting uppity, forgetting their place. In all these protestations, there lurks a furious hiss of aggrievement. "How dare they?" it demands.

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