Brady Takes Heat For Using Kipling Poem In Tribute Tweet to Teammates

rudyard_kipling_portraittom_brady_2016It takes a lot to get me to support Tom Brady and the Patriots as a lifelong Bears fan.  However, there is a bizarre controversy after Brady posted a picture of his Super Bowl winning team with a quotation from Rudyard Kipling’s 1898 poem If on Instagram and Twitter.  That unleashed an outcry from some who denounced the poem as written by a racist.  Other said that, given Brady’s support of Donald Trump, the use of the poem was alarming.  Perhaps the critics should also consider another quote from Kipling: “I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.”


Kipling wrote during the heyday of the British Empire and reflected the values and pride of that period.  He wrote favorably about the British colonies and coined the infamous phrase “white man’s burden.”  Yahoo writer Daniel Roberts tied Brady’s use of Kipling to his support for Trump by tweeting: “Considering all the vitriol over Brady’s friendship w/ Trump, mayyybe Rudyard Kipling (“The White Man’s Burden) not the best poet to quote.”  In fairness to Roberts, I think he was making a humorous aside and not necessarily endorsing the move against writers and figures deemed to be symbols of a racist era.
Other followed suit with criticism of the use of the classic poem.  Others noted that he did not credit Kipling though it is clear that he is quoting from a poem.  As I have discussed before, there is a growing opposition to reading the words for authors who reflected racist values or imagery prevalent in their times.  I believe such work needs to be considered in the context of their time.  I see no reason why Brady should not quote the poem which seems quite apropos for his message of overcoming opposition and criticism.  Here is the poem:
If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

123 thoughts on “Brady Takes Heat For Using Kipling Poem In Tribute Tweet to Teammates”

    1. Thanks ever so much. I didn’t know who to pin the blame on for that obvious fallacy.

      1. I’m a bit at a loss to figure whether you’re really thanking me or not, which is both immaterial and you’re welcome. My intent was to share a really good and recent bio of him as a young man getting (most of) his inspiration and direction. Sometimes knowing more about an author or artist makes one understand and like him more, sometimes much less, and therefore also his work. At least for me. This ‘racist’ canard is such crapola slung by people who most likely wouldn’t know Kipling from canned herring. Knowledge is our friend. I recommend this piece if you can find it online, it’s really interesting.

        1. Watch Nigel Farage’s lecture, “The Significance of Brexit and the Trump Victory,”
          live Monday night at 8 p.m. EST.

          Hosted by A European viewpoint and no idea what tack or course it will take.

      1. Michael Aarethun – I remember telling a class (in much frustration) that I was dealing with Philistines. 🙂

        1. Well too make your day we have a new Treasury Sec whom i don’t approve of and a new VA Sec who looks Ok I’ve talked to people who worked with him. Actual VA Patients, who saw him as the go to get it done guy to improve things.

          1. OMG! Edgar Allen is now a racist? (Tha’ts what I got out of it? No telling what the collective programmer meant to convey

  1. During five literary generations every enlightened person has despised him, and at the end of that time nine-tenths of those enlightened persons are forgotten and Kipling is in some sense still there.

    — G. Orwell, 1942

    1. Nice comment. I’m wondering why does Brady have to take heat for that. I can understand the teachers of the tennis team taking heat over the German Leid not these young peoples fault really their education sucked but one of the few literate entertainers (athletic division) for Kipling? No wonder education is in the tank.

  2. Kipling was a strong believer in English supremacy. Since that probably applied to the Irish, Scots, Danes and French I fail to see how ‘racist’ applies.

    1. Add Germans and Dutch.and Portuguese. in modern times it would be Indians and Middle Easterners

    1. It’s been a cliche for thirty years or more. That’s why I always marginalize it to the far left where it belongs and suggest something constructive. Like Afro and Latino Americans taking over the DNC and erasing the stain of slavery, Jim Crow, Black Laws, anti civil rights and racism or counter racism while they have this once in a life time chance. While they are at it boot sexism and bigotry out the door as well.

      If we can get rid of the RINOs which is an amost completed project in favor of a Constitutional Republic Party can those folks not get rid of the DINOs?

    2. True. Too often it is misapplied in an effort to denigrate a perceived foe. It matters not if the target has committed a bigoted act or not. It has become a smear term as has fascist and nazi.

  3. That Kipling poem was often read in high school or Freshman English class. Aloud, followed by literary criticism from, usually, just the teacher.

    In my class, lol those many decades ago, ‘racism’ never came up in connection with Kipling. Perhaps his sense of English superiority did…

  4. Perhaps the Fake News Presstitutes, instead of attacking Rudyard Kipling, would do well to apply the advice implicit in Kipling’s poem following the story “Elephant’s Child” in “Just So Stories,” applying–for a change–the fundamentals of good journalism by striving to answer the key questions of what, why, when, how, where, and who. Of course, they wouldn’t be the Fake News Presstitutes that they are if they started to do that. And we can’t very well have that now, can we?

    I keep six honest serving-men
    (They taught me all I knew);
    Their names are What and Why and When
    And How and Where and Who.
    I send them over land and sea,
    I send them east and west;
    But after they have worked for me,
    I give them all a rest.

    I let them rest from nine till five,
    For I am busy then,
    As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
    For they are hungry men.
    But different folk have different views;
    I know a person small
    She keeps ten million serving-men,
    Who get no rest at all!
    She sends em abroad on her own affairs,
    From the second she opens her eyes
    One million Hows, Two million Wheres,
    And seven million Whys!

  5. Regarding the racism and bigotry which seems to irk those who have gone off the deep left end; it is impossible to compare those of today with those of past eras, even if there were those of the past who exceeded in morality and truth, that were rare in their time, those of today where it is supposed to be commonplace. One condition to postulate is that if the person of the past, example Kipling, were alive today, would they not recognize and champion the progressive and higher morality that has been achieved? With Kipling, an exceptional observer of humanity, one would have to put him in the progressive camp, the camp of equality and human evolution vis a vis morality, truth, and hope.

  6. The two giants in their literary field at the time were Twain and Kipling. They met and enjoyed each other’s company. Twain advised Kipling that all one had to do was to get the facts down first and then one could distort them at will. Does this remind you of anything? Don’t say DDT because he doesn’t even bother with facts. DDT is that much of a failure; not even an acceptable writer of fiction.

  7. I find it kind of difficult to believe that Tom Brady would be sitting around, perusing books of poetry and found himself inspired when he encountered this particular Kipling work. I really doubt he’s studied Kipling and read everything Kipling ever published. And it’s really hard for me to believe he’s studied Kipling’s works and criticism of the author in any great depth. He probably saw the poem at some point and found it inspirational, and there’s nothing remotely racist about this particular work.

    As a Raiders fan, I still haven’t forgiven him for his smugness after the “Tuck Rule” call, and got great amusement out of “Deflate-gate.” But unless we find that he clipped this poem from an issue of his “White Nationalist Monthly” subscription, I think he gets a pass here.

    1. Wonderer – when I was finishing my Masters, I tutored athletes, mostly football players. The quarterbacks were the ones we spent the least time with. Usually, all we had to do was edit their papers, there were rarely any comments.

  8. First, the comment about Trump is not banning based on color. The legendary Jim Brown visited Trump Tower and blasted. The media calling him racist. Kanye was also there. I find people calling other people racist notice color far more than others. IF is an inspirational poem. I have never accused Kipling as racist, nor Mark Twain who had Huck in a boat with nigger Joe, which is causing a controversy about changing the original.

    President Trump is not racist. I wish we could remove racist from the English language, along with fascist that few know the true meaning.

    1. It’s pretty well documented that Kipling was a hard core racist based on many of the things he wrote. He was also a gifted poet.

      Apologists who insist that we consider racism in the “proper historical context” are just saying that since racism was widespread among whites generally, no individual white person of that time can be held responsible for his racism. It’s the argument that “everyone” was racist at the time. That argument is based on a lie since there have always been vocal voices raised against racism and it suggests that racism was once not immoral if it was practiced against white people.

      Better to just acknowledge that Kipling was a racist and a gifted poet. Certainly you can’t impute racism to Brady just because he tweeted a famous Kipling poem.

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