Posted on August 8, 2016, by Travis Pulver

Recently, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett made headlines when he called out Cam Newton and other NFL superstars for not being more involved when it comes to social issues. He was impressed with how several NBA superstars had recently taken a stance at the ESPYs and thought the NFL’s superstars should do the same.

To be fair, many NFL players are heavily involved in their communities and do a lot of good for a lot of causes. Many do speak out about all sorts of issues, but maybe what Bennett should have said was to speak out in a way that doesn’t turn people off.

Guys like former NFL punter Chris Kluwe have been more than happy to talk about social issues, but the abrupt manner in which he often made his comments did not do his cause of choice (same-sex marriage and gay rights) any good.

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The same can be said for the comments Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson recently made about Planned Parenthood.

Watson, who has never hesitated to share his Christian beliefs, is like many people when it comes to Planned Parenthood; he doesn’t like it. However, in a recent interview with the Turning Point Pregnancy Resource Center— a faith-based, pro-life organization—he made some comments about Planned Parenthood that likely did more harm to his cause than good.

He claimed that Planned Parenthood was founded as a means of exterminating black people:

“I do know that blacks kind of represent a large portion of the abortions, and I do know that honestly the whole idea with Planned Parenthood and (group founder Margaret) Sanger in the past was to exterminate blacks, and it’s kind of ironic that it’s working,” Watson said.

We (as minorities) support candidates, and overwhelmingly support the idea of having Planned Parenthood and the like, and yet, that is why she created it. We are buying it hook, line, and sinker, like it’s a great thing. It’s just amazing to me and abortion saddens me, period, but it seems to be something that is really pushed on minorities and provided to minorities especially as something that they should do.”

So—is there anything to what he said?

Well—history paints Margaret Sanger in two different lights. It is quite easy to find information online that paints her in a racist light, but by her own words, she just wanted to give all parents—not just African-American ones–a choice when it came to how many kids they had:

“Negro parents, like all parents, must create the next generation from strength, not from weakness; from health, not from despair.”

Her intent will likely be up for interpretation depending on what you read about her since so much of the material is slanted to paint her a raging, uncontrollable racist or simply as a proponent of birth control regardless of race.

As for his Watson’s claim that Planned Parenthood was intended as a means to “exterminate black people,” there is data easily available online that refutes that statement.

For example, according to a 2014 study by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health research center, there were 2000 known abortion providers in the United States in 2013. Of those, 60 percent of them were located in predominantly white neighborhoods (NPR).

NPR took it a step further and requested some patient demographics from Planned Parenthood. The organization does not make it a habit of sharing such information, but did tell NPR that in 2013, 14 percent of their patients were African-American. According to population estimates from 2010, African-Americans make up 12.6 percent of the population.

But what about his claim that Sanger founded Planned Parenthood as a means to exterminate the black population? Well—according to census data easily found online, it hasn’t worked. The percentage has been on the rise every decade since it hit an all-time low in 1930 (9.7 percent).

Social activism is a great thing, and it is admirable that people like Michael Bennett and Benjamin Watson want to use their fame and notoriety to make a difference in the world. However, when you say things that are inflammatory—like Planned Parenthood was created to control the black population—unless you can back it up, you do the cause no good.

Plenty of people will agree with you and pat you on the back for speaking out, but chances are they were already of like mind. So your message did not reach a new audience.

His comments will grab some attention and give NFL analysts something to talk about till someone else starts a fight in a training camp practice. But since they are inflammatory in nature and not hard to disprove, the focus will be more on “that crazy thing that NFL player said” and nothing else.

In the end, the message did not reach anyone new. The next time he talks, the same people that heard him loud and clear this time will still hear him, but the masses that are tired of divisive, inflammatory rhetoric may not even bother listening.

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