No individual has disgraced and diminished the office of the presidency with his puerile conduct more than Donald Trump. Vladimir Putin could not be more pleased with his handiwork and the damage that Trump is inflicting on the status and moral leadership of the presidency. Trump is systematically attempting to dismantle the foundational principles, values and mores of American democracy.
Putin pal Donald Trump is no position to question the patriotism of any American.
Over the weekend, Donald Trump turned his plan to divide Americans on America’s professional sports teams and athletes — in particular, African-American athletes who protest police violence against minorities — something Donald Trump has encouraged, Trump’s speech encouraging police to be ‘rough’, and more recently, to protest Trump’s failure to adequately condemn white supremacist hate speech after Charlottesville.
In this regard, the U.S. Congress unanimously agrees that Trump has failed to adequately condemn white supremacist hate speech. Congress takes Trump to task over his Charlottesville comments.
President Trump is trying to silence athletes who protest police violence in his “law and order,” i.e. , institutional racism world, and more directly, silence critics of his white supremacy by attempting to reframe their protests as unpatriotic and disrespect for the flag. “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” – Samuel Johnson, 1775.
We have seen this right-wing play before when the Bush-Cheney regime tried to silence the Dixie Chicks for their public criticism of their unnecessary and illegal war in Iraq. Like the Dixie Chicks, NFL players, coaches and owners were Not Ready to Make Nice on Sunday.
On three teams, nearly all the football players skipped the national anthem altogether. Dozens of others, from London to Los Angeles, knelt (right, 32 Denver Broncos) or locked arms on the sidelines, joined by several team owners in a league normally friendly to President Trump. Some of the sport’s biggest stars joined the kind of demonstration they have steadfastly avoided.
It was an unusual, sweeping wave of protest and defiance on the sidelines of the country’s most popular game, generated by Mr. Trump’s stream of callsto fire players who have declined to stand for the national anthem in order to raise awareness of police brutality and racial injustice.
What had been a modest round of anthem demonstrations this season led by a handful of African-American players mushroomed and morphed into a nationwide, diverse rebuke to Mr. Trump, with even some of his staunchest supporters in the N.F.L., including several owners, joining in or condemning Mr. Trump for divisiveness.
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As the sideline demonstrations unfolded on Sunday, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter: “Great solidarity for our national anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!”
And before boarding Air Force One in the evening, Mr. Trump told reporters that his comments had “nothing to do with race or anything else — this has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.”
Bullshit! Our white-supremacist-in-chief wants to reframe these protests as unpatriotic and disrespect for the flag, but you should not be fooled by the blatant transparency of his desire to divide Americans on race.
Charles Blow of the New York Times has a powerful must-read column today to address Trump’s latest racist outrage. A Rebel, a Warrior and a Race Fiend:
Donald Trump is operating the White House as a terror cell of racial grievance in America’s broader culture wars.
He has made his allegiances clear: He’s on the side of white supremacists, white nationalists, ethno-racists, Islamophobes and anti-Semites. He is simpatico with that cesspool.
And nothing gets his goat quite like racial minorities who stand up for themselves or stand up to him.
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors was asked about the annual rite of championship teams visiting the White House, and Curry made clear that he didn’t want to go because “we basically don’t stand for what our president has said, and the things he hasn’t said at the right time.”
Trump responded to Curry’s expressed desire not to go by seeming to disinvite the entire team, to which Curry responded with a level of class that is foreign to Trump. Curry said, “It’s surreal, to be honest.” Curry continued: “I don’t know why he feels the need to target certain individuals, rather than others. I have an idea of why, but it’s kind of beneath a leader of a country to go that route. That’s not what leaders do.”
Of course, Curry is correct. Not only is this episode surreal, the entire Trump tenure is surreal. He is not a leader.
Separately, on Friday night at a political rally in Alabama, Trump took to task N.F.L. players who kneel in protest during the national anthem and N.F.L. owners who allow it.
Trump said owners should respond by saying: “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. Fired!”
Pause. No, full stop. Folks, this cretin is who we are supposed to call a “president.” He uses harsher language against people quietly protesting injustice than he does against violent racists marching through the streets. Unbelievable. O.K., continue.
Last year, Colin Kaepernick, who was then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, kicked off these protests when he began to quietly kneel during the pre-game playing of the national anthem.
At the time he explained his rationale to NFL Media, saying: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” He continued, “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Let alone that the anthem was authored by a white supremacist, Francis Scott Key, who was a proponent of African colonization — exporting free blacks back to Africa — and an opponent of the anti-slavery movement.
Let alone the fact that the third stanza of that anthem, the part that you never hear, goes like this:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.
This is thought by some to be an excoriation of the Colonial Marines, a mostly black unit composed primarily of runaway slaves who fought for the British during the War of 1812, on the promise of attaining their freedom. The unit humiliated Key’s own unit in battle.
As Jason Johnson, a professor of political science at Morgan State University and political editor at The Root wrote on the site last year: “With a few exceptions,” Key “was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time.”
Kaepernick’s objection is valid on its own, but the anthem itself is problematic. It all points to the complexity we encounter when we pull back the gauzy veil of hagiographic history we have woven.
The exploitation of black bodies and the spilling of black blood are an indelible part of the American story, and how we deal with that says everything about where we are as a nation and who we are.
This is about far more than football and flags, about more than basketball and battle cries. This is about American memory, the ongoing quest for equality, the racial inequities fused to the DNA of power in this country. This is also about the response to minority advances and the coming minority-to-majority demographic conversion.
This is about the honest appraisal of what America was, is, and should be.
Trump is not a proper leader for any moment or any conversation, let alone this moment and this conversation.
Trump has no desire to advance truth and reconciliation when it comes to race in this country. His venality and vulgarity seeks only to exploit white racial anxiety and hostility, in the most vulgar of terms, to maximum political gain.
With every passing day, Trump diminishes the office of the presidency and elevates a virulent strain of racial animus. Trumpism is becoming ever more synonymous with racism.