by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:
Americans do not and should not worship idols. We do not and should not worship the flag. As a nation we stand in respect for the national anthem and stand in respect for the flag not simply because we were born here or because it’s our flag. We stand in respect because the flag represents a specific set of values and principles.
– From the recently published piece: I Understand Why They Knelt
I almost always disagree with mainstream critiques of Trump, which is why I tend to stay away from commenting on the endless battles between the destructive and dangerous status quo and the dangerous and destructive Donald Trump. Critiques of Trump from status quo types and their supporters are almost always hysterical and superficial, based upon the false premise that everything was going just fine until Trump was elected.
I believe that sort of myth making is as dangerous as Trump himself, and I’ll never support a preposterous “resistance” strategy which elevates Wall Street CEOs, the CIA, neo-cons, neo-liberals and all sorts of other destructive elements of our society into saviors. These shallow resistance types focus on the symptom of the disease versus the disease itself, and therefore can never offer a constructive path to a batter future. That said, in this instance I completely agree with the view that Trump’s authoritarian tweets with regard to NFL player protests in recent days are extremely dangerous and encourage his supporters to rally around a debased and superficial fake patriotism based on symbolism as opposed to ideals and values.
First, let’s start with a little history. Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started his protest in August 2016 when Barack Obama was still President and the mainstream narrative assumed Hillary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump handily later that year. He was clear about the intentions behind his protest from the beginning, which related to his disgust with unaccountable police brutality against people of color. Here’s some of what he had to say when asked about his actions a year ago:
“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
“This stand wasn’t for me. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change. So I’m in the position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.”
“It’s something that can unify this team. It’s something that can unify this country. If we have these real conversations that are uncomfortable for a lot of people. If we have these conversations, there’s a better understanding of where both sides are coming from.”
“I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody. That’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought have for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That’s not right.”
Kaepernick has suffered the consequences of his actions, as he remains unsigned by any NFL team following last season’s protest and the controversy that followed. This is what tends to happen when someone sticks their neck out to make a point and enough people, especially extremely wealthy people like the owners of NFL teams, don’t like it. As anyone who’s ever held a job knows, if you act in a way that the boss doesn’t like and you do it consistently enough, you’ll get fired. This is simply how power dynamics work.
I’m sure Kaepernick knew this going in, yet he stuck to his principles irrespective of the likely negative consequences that would follow. Whether you agree or not with how he decided to make his point, I think it’s disingenuous to argue he wasn’t coming from a genuine place. If he had started this protest after Trump’s election, I would have seen it as superficial and fame-whoring, but that’s not what happened. He started it while the first black President was in office. Like it or not, the guy was clearly coming from a genuine place and sacrificed a lot to stand his ground.
Which brings me to Trump’s commentary on the subject. Much can be revealed about his nature and his plans for the future by analyzing some of what he said. First, here’s what got the whole thing going. During a Friday rally in Alabama, Trump said the following:
“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. He is fired.”
In subsequent days, he added to that angry, authoritarian rant with a stream of related tweets, some of which are highlighted below:
If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
…our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
These tweets are interesting. He conflates wealth and success with a requirement to be submissive. This is an implied threat that if you want to be successful in America, you’d better learn to stay in line.
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