There have been a few articles ripping Josh Howard over the past few days, so I thought that I'd try to present his side of the story here. Let me preface this article by saying that I don't agree with what he said.
I love America, and I'm truly appreciative of all the opportunities my family and I have been given here. But I feel like the firestorm that Josh Howard's comments have started is a little overblown, and I'm going to try to justify his mindset, at least a little bit.
First of all, I have heard the argument that the responsibility lies not on Howard, but on the culture of the NBA. I don’t believe this, and I think that it is unfair to other NBA players to put them in the same boat. He was the one who made the remark; he is the only one responsible until someone else comes out with a similar comment. I would be willing to bet that the majority of NBA players are very respectful of this country and recognize the opportunities that it has given them.
In Howard’s defense, his comment was not malicious; he was simply expressing his point of view on respecting the National Anthem. For the record, he said he didn't celebrate The Star-Spangled Banner because he was black. He didn’t say he hated America, he didn’t say he thought America should no longer exist. He was simply utilizing his freedom of speech, which is one of the most important rights we have as Americans.
Are we seriously prepared to take every disrespectful comment by Americans about America as high treason? We are all frustrated with some aspect of American life, and it is not illegal to express it. Granted, Howard’s comments were not particularly insightful, but they did bring to mind an important issue in American history, the treatment of minorities.
Keep in mind that this National Anthem is the same one that we have had since the days of segregation and slavery, the days of Native American genocide, and the days of Japanese internment camps.
Can we really expect minorities to completely respect this anthem when it has in the past symbolized discrimination and racism? African-Americans have been treated unfairly by this country for so many years, and we expect them to have complete respect for our national symbols?
I don’t get how this works; we’re allowed to bully them and discriminate against them for two-hundred years, but God forbid one of them makes a negative remark about the National Anthem.
I know that Josh Howard probably hasn’t experienced much of this racism, and most of his opportunities are due to this country, but he still identifies himself as a black man, and that means that his history with this country has been troubled.
So, to sum it up, was what Howard said really that bad? In my opinion, he was simply attempting to exercise his right to freedom of speech and express a fundamental imbalance in this country’s history.
Did he put it eloquently or choose an appropriate moment to protest? Probably not. But I believe that the motive behind his comments was plausible and understandable. You might not agree with what he said, but Josh Howard is no villain.