Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers may not have led his team to victory in Sunday’s game, but he proved to be a total class act in the post-game press conference.
The NFL chose to honor the victims of the Paris terror attacks with a moment of silence held before each and every game. It was meant to be a time for fans to mourn the loss of life, send positive thoughts to the French people, and reflect. For most, that’s what happened. One fan in Green Bay, Wisconsin, however, decided to use the quiet stadium to spew hatred towards Muslims. In the middle of the moment of silence, he could be heard shouting “Muslims suck” loud enough that the players on the field took notice.
After the game, the man’s hateful outburst still clearly weighed on Rodgers, who stopped taking questions about game strategy and performance to slap down the “fan” and disavow everything he stood for.
Rodgers with commenting at the end about the moment of silence, fan in stands who said something prejudicial. pic.twitter.com/mZJkKJf0Ii
— Matt Johnson (@MattJ_onNFL) November 15, 2015
After applauding the decision to hold a moment of silence, Rodgers told reporters:
“I must admit I was very disappointed with whoever the fan was who made a comment that I thought was really inappropriate during the moment of silence. It’s that kind of prejudicial ideology that I think puts us in the position we are in today.”
Rodgers couldn’t have handled it better. Rather than ignore the hatred, Rodgers faced it head on and pointed out why it’s not okay. The same kind of dehumanizing prejudice that leads to a person shamefully yelling “Muslims suck” during a moment of silence also motivates extremists to rationalize killing innocents in the name of their religion, or cause, or ideology. The world doesn’t need more “us vs. them,” despite how tempting it is to look for easy scapegoats during times of fear.
The right-wing media has spent the last few days gleefully stoking anti-Muslim sentiments and outbursts like the one seen during this football game are likely to continue. It’s important that influential people stand up to that unacceptable behavior and call it out. That’s what makes Rodgers message so important for people to hear. Blatant prejudice never looks good in the light – turning the focus on it can only help disrupt the cycle of hate.
Feature image via Patheos