It’s not really a surprise that Donald Trump would side against professional football players who silently protest during the national anthem. There has never been an American president who was more jingoistic, nationalistic, and just plain racist than Trump. But that’s not even the reason he made the statement he made on Friday evening during his rally in support of Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange:
Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flags to say, `Get that son of a bitch off the field right now! Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!“
So why did he say it? Come on, you guys — you know this by now. Trump wants to appeal to the lowest common denominator, the basest of his base. Racists. And in the end, it is racism that drives the opposition to players protesting the national anthem. Yes, Trump is racist himself. But his desire to inflame racists is greater even than his pride in his strong white genes.
Look at what people say when they declare their hatred of the NFL protests: “I understand why he’s doing it, I just don’t like the way he’s doing it.”
Well, how would you like them to protest? Players aren’t tearing their shirts off and making a scene. They’re not blocking any roads. They’re not refusing to do their jobs, or demanding reparations, or requesting grief counseling like all of those college students the anti-protester protesters hate.
There are literally people turning off their televisions because one or two guys on a professional sports team are sitting quietly while a song plays. White Middle America tore out their hair as players from the Rams, formerly of St. Louis, took the field literally with their hands in the air in solidarity with Ferguson protesters. Absolute supplication. Silence.
And Trump could have dropped the mic right there. He may have won Strange the election just with his overt call to the racist element of Alabama, which is no small subsection. But he had to go on. Commenting on the NFL’s efforts to prevent injuries like concussions or more traumatic brain injuries, he said:
If you hit too hard, 15 yards, throw him out of the game! They’re [refs and league officials] ruining the game, right?”
And maybe you think that’s the less egregious part of what he said, but you couldn’t be more wrong. That’s the part where Trump is saying what he thinks those players should be doing: Giving up their lives, their bodies, their brains for our entertainment, and doing it happily. There is no acceptable way to protest.
So where is Colin Kaepernick now? You know, the guy for whom this was a new thing. The one who actually first took a stand, or as the case was, took a knee. Well, he’s without a job, despite the fact that he said long since that he’s made his point, would stand for the anthem going forward, is more than ready to play football, and is arguably a much better quarterback than at least half a dozen starting QBs in the league.
That son of a bitch is off the field.
Featured image via Robert Reiners/Getty Images