Of all weeks, this was not the one for President Donald Trump to lecture anybody on patriotism and respecting our country.
In what can only be seen as a thinly veiled attempt to distract attention from the confirmation that there’s a tape of him talking about paying off a Play boy model with whom he allegedly had an affair, Trump teed off on the NFL once again Friday night. He called on Commissioner Roger Goodell to kick players out of a game if they kneel during the national anthem and to suspend them without pay for the season if they do it again.
If only the president would realize he isn’t an autocrat like the man he so admires, Vladimir Putin. You know, the one Trump fawned over on Monday despite knowing for more than 18 months that Putin personally ordered the hacking of our electoral process, which just so happens to be the cornerstone of our democracy.
But the Constitution and the ideals on which this country are founded mean little to Trump. If they did, he’d understand that the player protests have never been about the flag, the anthem, the military or the police. They’re about trying to draw attention to the racial and economic discrimination that continues to divide our country – a divide Trump deepens every opportunity he gets.
“He has no understanding of why they take a knee or why they’re protesting,” New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week.
This is why the NFL owners made a colossal mistake by adopting a new policy for the national anthem in May. Players can stay in the locker room, but are expected to stand if they are on the field. Teams whose players protest can be fined by the NFL.
There likely would have been a handful of players, at most, who would have protested this season. It had become a non-issue because of the agreement between the NFL and The Players Coalition to devote money and a platform to social justice.
The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2018