Today in politricks: Conservative social media accounts are pushing a fake image of the Seattle Seahawks burning the star-spangled banner in their locker room in an attempt to stoke more anger toward the NFL.
And it seems to be working.
The photoshopped image shows Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett in the center of a locker room burning the American flag as his teammates and coaches cheer him on. As BuzzFeed News reports, the fake photo has been circulating around Twitter and was shared by the Facebook group Vets for Trump.
The original image is easily searchable on the Seahawks’ website and, in fact, was shared in January 2016 by the team’s social media account:
Many commenters on the Facebook page of Vets for Trump, which captioned the photo with a call to boycott the NFL, have pointed out repeatedly that the post is photoshopped, linking to the original photo, as well as pointing out inconsistencies in the photoshopped image:
If there’s fire, why isn’t there smoke? Especially in an enclosed space? And why would the Seahawks’ locker room, a multimillion-dollar facility, not have sprinklers—which would obviously be triggered by a “burning flag”?
While some acknowledged that the photo was fake, they maintained that kneeling during the national anthem was disrespectful. Still others didn’t seem to care whether the photo was real or not.
“This is what happens when people idolize a bunch of supposed hero’s [sic] instead of giving back to the true Americans that are willing to die to defend our country. Boycott now,” one commenter responded early on.
When multiple people pointed out to him that the image was photoshopped, the same commenter doubled down: “Fake or not, when they take the knee it’s the same difference,” he said.
Just days earlier, an incident involving Bennett had gone viral. That Facebook post, which, unlike the one above, was based on something that actually happened, was shared by a woman who had come across the Seahawks defensive end pulled over on the side of the road, talking to veterans.
The woman, who described herself as “torn” over Bennett and the Seahawks’ stance (they opted not to participate in the national anthem at all last Sunday), said that Bennett embraced her when she approached him. According to her, the two ended up talking for more than 20 minutes about the protests over racial injustice.
So why were Bennett and the Seahawks targeted for this egregious photoshop and not, say, the New England Patriots, the Dallas Cowboys or the Washington, D.C., football team?
The answer seems obvious, but it’s necessary to revisit. Bennet has been outspoken about racial injustice and is currently the target of a smear campaign by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department after he accused LVMPD cops of violating his civil rights.
The Seahawks, as an organization, also made it clear last weekend that its refusal to participate in the national anthem wasn’t just to demonstrate “unity” as an organization.
“We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country,” the Seahawks’ pregame statement read, one of the few that acknowledged what the original protest by now-former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was about.
“Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf,” the organization wrote, “we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms.”
Read more at BuzzFeed News.