When White Men Keep Lists of “No-Good Niggers”

A Pennsylvania fire chief used a slur against black NFL protesters for sitting out the national anthem — just like Donald Trump.

Do you have a “list of no-good niggers” that you keep around the house? Maybe you use the notes app on your phone, or even a Google Doc?

Paul Smith has a “list of no-good niggers.” He’s the chief of the Cecil Township Fire Department, about 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh. On Sunday, he felt so comfortable announcing to the world who had just been added to his “list of no-good niggers” that he posted it as a status on his Facebook page.

We’re not quite clear on how exhaustive a list Smith has built over the years, but this much we do know, thanks to the Facebook post: Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has now found himself on Smith’s list. What’s strange is that Smith didn’t put Tomlin on his “list of no-good niggers” — instead, Tomlin put himself on that list.

“Tomlin just added himself to the list of no-good niggers,” Smith wrote. To be clear that he wasn’t fooling around about Tomlin being on his list, Smith finished off his post with, “Yes I said it.”

The Intercept reached out to Tomlin to see when and how he added himself to Smith’s “list of no-good niggers,” but we have not heard back yet.

Later, after the post, Smith offered something of an apology and said he simply couldn’t help himself, offering something of an explanation along the way. “I was frustrated and angry at the Steelers not standing for the anthem,” Smith texted a local reporter — and when Smith gets angry and frustrated, black men add themselves to his “list of no-good niggers.”

We also learned something from Smith’s apology: Tomlin added himself to Smith’s “list of no-good niggers” during the unprecedented NFL protests over the weekend, when more than a dozen teams and about 200 players participated in some form of demonstration in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback, began kneeling during the national anthem last season to voice his objections to police brutality against black people in America. When Kaepernick came under particular fire in recent weeks and especially over the weekend, it unleashed a wave of support from his former colleagues in the NFL.

Tomlin’s Pittsburgh Steelers did not emerge from the locker room on Sunday during the national anthem. That seems to be how he landed himself on Smith’s “list of no-good niggers.”

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers stands on the sidelines during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stands on the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 24, 2017 in Chicago. Tomlin was the subject of a Facebook post by chief of the Cecil Township Fire Department Paul Smith.

Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Yet Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll or Tennessee Titans Coach Mike Mularkey did not add themselves to Smith’s list. Or, if they did add themselves, Smith simply forgot to write a Facebook status about it. Those two coaches, both white, also chose to keep their entire teams off the field during the national anthem on Sunday, as did Tomlin, but doing so seemed to only earn Tomlin a spot on the “list of no-good niggers.” (Tomlin suggested he kept his team off the field to avoid having them kneel during the anthem, “to remove ourselves from the circumstance.”)

On Friday evening, another white man, this time in Alabama, was overcome with anger at the thought of a few football players failing to stand for the national anthem. Except this white man was the president of the United States. The effect, though, was roughly the same.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” President Donald Trump had said to the raucous crowd.

In contrast to his comments on the NFL players’ demonstrations, Trump had been measured and calm with his language — never once using a single inappropriate word — when he described white supremacists who demonstrated in Charlottesville, Virginia. Those demonstrations, and the chaos that ensued, left a woman dead and a man beaten senseless. For what it’s worth — and I leave that up to you — David Duke, who spoke in the streets of Charlottesville, said the white supremacist demonstrators were there to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”

Why did Trump not rail on those horrible people in his 90-minute speech in Alabama on Friday? Why did he call these peaceful players who’ve taken a knee, who also happen to be some of the best and brightest men of the NFL, sons of bitches?

For the same reason Fire Chief Paul Smith has a “list of no-good niggers.” Colin Kaepernick has been on Trump’s list for a very long time. Barack Obama was on the list longer. The Central Park Five longer than that. And black tenants and applicants to Trump properties even longer.

Don’t fool yourself. Paul Smith isn’t the only one with a list.

Top photo: The Pittsburgh Steelers bench is empty during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago on Sept. 25, 2017.

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