Stephen Curry has had his name in the center of the swirling vortex of controversy that is President Donald Trump’s Twitter account — the president called out Curry and said he rescinded an invitation to the White House for the Warriors (trying to beat them to the punch, they were going to vote not to go).
Curry, like a lot of athletes (particularly in the NFL), have heard from fans who think they are disrespecting the flag, the nation, and veterans by protesting during the anthem, whether by locking arms (as many NBA teams do) or kneeling (an issue that would have faded by now if it wasn’t useful for the president to fan those flames).
On Veteran’s Day, Curry took to the Player’s Tribune in a thoughtful piece that calls for a real discussion of veterans’ issues — and flag protests are not on that list.
One of the most rewarding conversations that I’ve had this year was with a veteran — it was just the other night, actually. My wife, Ayesha, held the opening for her restaurant, and we all came out to eat dinner there and support her. And one of the guests who came in that night was a man named Michael, who was there with his wife. He came up and introduced himself, and we just got to talking.
He happened to have served in Afghanistan — and he told me about how much he had been through, both physically and mentally, just in trying to transition back into society, and into his daily life. He offered some advice to me, about how I could help to raise awareness about some of the serious issues that veterans are going through — for example, with the Veterans Affairs medical system, and how its administration is broken. And he educated me on demographics — telling me about how less than 1% of the population today serves in the military, which makes it a real struggle for veterans, as a political constituency, to get the representation that they need….
We hear all the time on TV and social media about “supporting our troops.” But it’s not just about saluting them or thanking them for their service at the airport — and it’s definitely not just about how we observe the national anthem. Michael told me that our veterans need real action. They need real help with medical services, and access to jobs, and readjusting to society….
So that’s why I’m writing this — that’s my plea to y’all for this Veterans Day: Let’s please not get lost in another one of these endless debates about who means what when they’re doing what, or who is disrespecting whom.
Instead, let’s respect — let’s celebrate — our veterans, by having a conversation about the actual ways that we as civilians, as their fellow Americans they’ve fought to protect, can hold up our end of the bargain. Let’s talk about the broken VA medical system, and traumatic brain injuries, and PTSD. But let’s also talk about homelessness, and unemployment, and mental health, and, yes, racial inequality.
Let’s talk about how we can do better, to make their lives easier.
Go read the entire article from Curry.
We are a nation that loves to be angry right now, and with that, we are easily distracted. Politicians across the spectrum see more short-term value in riling up their bases and using that anger than having rational conversations, ones that lead to —gasp! — compromise and real progress (not that compromise is always an option, see the Civil War as an example). Washington is deadlocked, but with virtually all of the House of Representatives in safe districts politicians can play to the fringes with little consequence. If change that will help veterans and other Americans is coming, it is coming from the bottom up.
We can and need to do better.