Listen: I’m not one to tell NBA athletes that they should just “shut up and dribble” rather than speak on social and political issues, and apparently, neither are Fox News hosts—so long as the athlete is saying all the white people-friendly things and shouting down people who speak on American injustice and oppression.
On Monday, Swiss-born Boston Celtic Enes Kanter officially became a U.S. citizen and legally changed his name to Enes Kanter Freedom. Now, if I were a petty man, I’d point out that Kanter basically jacked Ron Artest’s name changing steez and he’ll likely be praised for it by the same white people who called Artest ridiculous when he legally changed his name to Meta World Peace—fortunately, I’m not a petty man.
Anyway, Kanter (his momma named him Kanter, I’m calling him Kanter) made an appearance on the white nationalist spank bank network that doesn’t even report news about foxes and sat down with Fox News host and professional disgruntled white man Tucker Carlson to declare that Americans shouldn’t talk bad about America because, like white Americans in general, Kanter has apparently convinced himself that America is the world’s only free nation. (I mean, he was literally born in Switzerland, but whatever.)
Now, to be fair, Carlson—the white man who is such a raging white supremacist that ex-KKK grand wizard David Duke got big mad at him for stealing his shine—prompted Kanter’s statement with a loaded and leading question.
“It seems that people who move here from countries that are not free appreciate the freedoms here much more than a lot of us who grew up with those freedoms. Have you noticed that?” Carlson asked.
“People should feel really blessed to be in America,” Kanter responded. “They love to criticize it but when you live in a country like Turkey or China, you appreciate the freedoms you have here. I feel like they should just keep their mouth shut and stop criticizing the greatest nation in the world and they should focus on their freedoms and their human rights and democracy.”
Here’s the thing: Like Carlson, Kanter has only ever seen the privileged side of American life. Kanter is a white-adjacent Turkish man who moved to the U.S. at age 17, lived in the upscale neighborhood of Simi Valley, California, attended prep schools and already had a Nike shoe deal while playing basketball professionally. Who is he to tell Americans who have had a different experience that they should just shut the hell up and breathe in America’s exclusively free air?
Kanter has certainly been outspoken when it comes to oppressive nations like Turkey, where his parents are from, but he conveniently ignores the fact that there’s an entire racial population in this country whose collective lived experience involves constant racial abuse and profiling, police brutality, systemic racism and a history that, up until a small handful of decades ago, revolved around slavery and legally-sanctioned second-class citizenship.
America is chock-full of Black people, Muslims and Latino immigrants who don’t know what the hell white people and Kanter are talking about when they identify the U.S. as the end all, be all nation of freedom and liberty.
The fine folks on what right-wingers consider to be “woke Twitter” had a field day dragging Kanter and his off-white nonsense.
Like I said, I would never suggest that athletes “shut up and dribble,” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain people who would do well to simmer down, check their privilege and shoot the damn ball.