Mike Ditka is a grumpy old man. In recent years, his cranky, curmudgeonly attitude has only become more and more obvious, as the former Bears head coach has struggled to reconcile his stubborn political and social views with the realities of an ever-changing world.
For example, consider Ditka's stance on the expression of solidarity orchestrated by certain St. Louis Rams players last Sunday, when certain members of the team held their arms in the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" position popularized by Ferguson, Mo. protestors. Speaking with the Chicago Sun-Times, Ditka characterized the action as embarrassing:
“It’s a shame this thing has come to this,” Ditka told the Chicago Sun-Times for his weekly feature column. “The shame of it is, I’m not sure they care about Michael Brown or anything else. This was a reason to protest and to go out and loot. Is this the way to celebrate the memory of Michael Brown? Is this an excuse to be lawless? Somebody has to tell me that. I don’t understand it. I understand what the Rams’ take on this was. I’m embarrassed for the players more than anything. They want to take a political stand on this? Well, there are a lot of other things that have happened in our society that people have not stood up and disagreed about.
“I wasn’t in Ferguson. I don’t know exactly what happened. But I know one thing: If we dismantle and limit the power of our policemen any more than we have already, then we’re going to have a lot of problems in this country.
What do you do if someone pulls a gun on you or is robbing a store and you stop them? I don’t want to hear about this hands-up crap. That’s not what happened. I don’t know exactly what did happen, but I know that’s not what happened. This policeman’s life is ruined. Why? Because we have to break somebody down. Because we have to even out the game. I don’t know. I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.”
There are a lot of things we could clear up about Ditka's stance. The idea that policemen have been limited in any way over the past decade; Ditka's insistence that Rams players shouldn't protest on the grounds that "there are a lot of other things that have happened in our society that people have not stood up and disagreed about"; his bull-headed insistence about knowing what's right and wrong despite not knowing "exactly what did happen": all of these angles in Ditka's argument are completely ludicrous, almost to the point of being terrifying.
But, more importantly, why are we asking Mike Ditka what he thinks about Ferguson? What did we expect him to say? Instead of getting a 75-year-old man's take on a complex issue of race and oppression, we should just be putting him to bed.