Opinions on the recent rash of football players taking a knee during the national anthem are like knobby elbows: everybody’s got at least one. Donald Trump is against it and says any son of a bitch who disrespects our country should be fired, and a surprisingly large number of people agree. Although much discussion centers around which son of a bitch it is that should be fired.
On one hand you have a group of minority athletes exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to speak against injustice and on the other hand, a desperate politician stoking division to distract his base from a moribund agenda and an approval rating sinking faster than a bag full of lug nuts in a hot tub.
Last weekend the president tweeted 24 times about the NFL and not once about the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico where the U.S. Territory was devastated by a Category 5 hurricane and lacks such luxuries as water, food, fuel, electricity and hope. That’s leadership the same way two bottles of Jagermeister are dinner.
The blue-collar billionaire went on to charge NFL owners with being afraid of their players, and encouraged them to tell their African-American employees to shut up and keep tap dancing. Everyone loves those spirituals.
Nobody’s saying the president is intolerant. Well, not any more than they did during the campaign or the transition or after Charlottesville, but his core constituency does seem to be white males who played football without a helmet. Aiming to be president of Alabama.
To him, it’s all about the rich and the white and the male and definitely not about the poor and the non-white and the female. He maintains the mayor of San Juan insulted first responders when she called the relief efforts incompetent. The man is a dirty prism. Criticize him and doves cry. Don’t like his policies? Quit hating America.
If there’s one thing Trump excels at, besides making the anchors at MSNBC twitch like tails during the livestock judging at the Texas State Fair during blue fly season, it’s switching the subject from difficult questions to easy answers: in this case, patriotism. Which is good. As opposed to evil, which is bad.
How did this become about offending the military? Colin Kaepernick insists his impetus for not standing during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” was to protest blacks losing their lives to racial inequality. That ain’t tiddly-winks.
If folks choose to misinterpret the symbolism to be about disrespecting the flag, they’re free to do so. That’s their First Amendment right. But they should also be prepared for those beliefs to be misinterpreted as coming from bigots and racists and people who played football without helmets.
And why stop there? The military doesn’t own a monopoly on the flag. By not standing for the national anthem, aren’t the players also offending textile manufacturers, dye-makers, brass polishers, metallurgists, knobs, not to mention disrespecting the Baby Jesus who was born under the same Stars and Stripes?
Please, people; can we just keep politics out of football? Don’t ruin Sundays (and Mondays and Thursdays). It’s the one (3) day(s) of the week we can tell the good guys from the bad guys.
Because the good guys are wearing the same colored shirts as we are. Green & Gold. Go Pack Go.
Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comic and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin.