Opinion: Our race-baiter-in-chief strikes again

Last month, white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched in a torchlight parade in Charlottesville, chanting “Blood and soil!” and “Jews will not replace us.” After violence broke out the next day, a white supremacist drove his car into peaceful counter-protestors, killing one.

After all that, President Donald Trump professed to find very fine people on both sides of the conflict.

After Vladimir Putin interfered directly in our national elections by hacking campaigns, running surreptitious ad campaigns and apparently trying to break into our voting systems, the normally blunt and confrontational Trump has once again gone milque-toast, failing to find the words needed to issue a full-throated or even half-throated condemnation of the Russian dictator.

Ah, but speaking to a raucous crowd in Alabama Friday night, Trump finally found a target worthy of his venom and bile:

“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, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’ You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it — they’re friends of mine, many of them — but they’ll be the most popular person, for a week, they’ll be the most popular person in this country, because that’s a total disrepect for our heritage, that’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for, OK, everything that we stand for.”

Trump then turned to the issue of the NFL’s falling ratings, which he attributed in part to the shadow cast by his own popularity, and in part to excessive concern for player safety given the astonishingly high rate of brain damage done by football.¹ He showed not an iota of concern for that heavy toll.

“But you know what’s hurting the ratings more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem. The only thing that you could do better is if you see it, even it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee you things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave.”

So what do we have here?

We have the president of the United States angrily attempting to dictate to businesses whom they should and should not employ, and demanding a boycott of that business if they do not comply with his wishes.

We have him using the awesome majesty of the office to try to shut down peaceful protests about an issue of deep public concern, in this case the unfair, unjustified use of force by law enforcement against minorities. He is attempting to squelch dissent, and it is that right to publicly dissent that is truly “our heritage” and “everything we stand for.”

We also have Trump, our president, casually applying the term “son of a bitch” to U.S. citizens in a public speech before thousands of listeners and millions watching on TV.  People who would slap their kid across the mouth for uttering those words in their presence now stand and cheer wildly when their president says it. That’s how quickly our public discourse and standards of decency are degrading thanks to this man.

Note also how deftly and instinctively Trump separates “we” from “they,”  and “people like yourselves” from “those people.”

Which people? You know which people. This is barely coded race-baiting, and by using the national anthem and the American flag to cloak his own ugliness, Trump does them far more disrespect than a player on bended knee ever could.

As Trump noted, he does have friends and supporters among NFL owners, some of whom made major contributions to his campaign. Yet to its credit, the NFL has issued a statement highly critical of Trump’s statement.

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

It’s going to be interesting. Thanks to Trump, what Colin Kaepernick began as a one-man protest against police brutality is now likely to blossom into something much larger, a demand for basic respect and human dignity. Because people who protest, peacefully, using whatever stage they have earned, are not sons of bitches to be condemned from on high; they are people who want to make this a better country and are willing to stand up for what they believe. Even if you happen to disagree with the cause they champion, you should respect them as American patriots.

“Justice is the end of government,” Alexander Hamilton told us. “It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.”

——-

¹ I cannot recommend highly enough this discussion of the CTE problem with NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter. The honesty, dignity and passion with which Carter addresses the issue are deeply touching.

Reader Comments 0

4768 comments
gerrylkw
gerrylkw

What the NFL players were protesting is the person who sits in the White House and his racist feelings. I completely agree with them. The POTUS is a man with supreme egotism, a Narcissistic to the nth degree. His comments about what happened in Charlottesville was the first example and this about the NFL protests the second.

I just hope the voters kick him out or he is impeached because of his Russian connections. He politiced in .georgia saying Putin is my friend.

Peachs
Peachs

You got to wonder if a twisted man like Trump doesn't accidentally stand up for that Russian flag in his sudden patriotism.

TDMan
TDMan

Here is a grand Idea everyone. Instead of bashing each other and getting off topic why does not everyone direct questions and comments to Jay? Very simple way to have a more intelligent conversation. Hey maybe even.....maybe but doubtful Jay might come out from behind his Oz curtain and engage a few instead of throwing a firebomb and running to hide and start penning his next firebomb. Come on Jay join the game!

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

@TDMan You don't understand, it's the Jaybird's job to throw firebombs, Trump is the best thing to happen to Bookman's career in years

TDMan
TDMan

@Infraredguy @TDMan 

Agree. So highly unlikely we see any of his underlings take my advice and get the Jay on stage with everyone. I guess we might need a "Dorothy" to get him from behind the Great OZ curtain.

Peachs
Peachs

Seems to me the federal government has gotten so weak and expensive yet producing zero reason to be here that maybe this energy of standing up should be given to the state flags. And the citizens can move to the flag that serves him or her best. It will be kind of like picking a college. Only so much room at Harvard and the left behind would still be in red states mad at a crowd too drunk to stand up for anything..

mgunter
mgunter

Bookman, you and your handful of left leaning fans are clueless about showing respect for the American Flag. Patriotism crosses political parties. The NFL should have fixed this last year. Ratings will continue to fall faster than AJC subscription numbers.

Peachs
Peachs

Hand full would describe your 33% controlling a country you don't even have the education to appreciate, yet you are upset over more successful people expressing their God given rights. I cheer a man who comes from nothing into a man hated and called a SOB by a very weak president 70%! of this country really think is the SOB that we need to fire along with his Russian associates.

Peachs
Peachs

Why would Wiener think after the damage he has done he deserves one ounce of consideration from any judge. He may be the only man alive that is a bigger bum than Trump. What went wrong with these people in this time frame of history. Both from NY, lucky NY,

Peachs
Peachs

Did Newt serve in the arm services?

Peachs
Peachs

Trump reminds me of the early black leaders like Jessie Jackson. You can always tell when a race has hit rock bottom and Trump's base is our new bar of this nation!s rock bottom.

But have faith poor white rural trash your fellow black Americans have risen above your station, be inspired! You can still be rehabbed!

BeOfService
BeOfService

@Peachs Agree!  I believe Mr. Bookman referred to him as the "Al Sharpton for white people".  Perfect!

Peachs
Peachs

Day one on your desk, it's the Republicans fault, maybe you calling McCain a loser was not a good idea..

Peachs
Peachs

Son in law is using person email, if you want to talk old news. Bum, purebred bum, never been one like this Republican president. Get something past, stop with the juvenile entertainment, grow up!

Peachs
Peachs

Who cares, toxic is Trump's middle name! 22 million lives are in danger this week, while we are talking old news. Focus, we have a bum in the WH, who needs to take headcounts of people standing when we can't keep one political promise done?

Randy05
Randy05

Why did Jay choose to make the disrespecting of the National Anthem a racial thing? I don't believe Trump said anything racially derogatory in his remarks. Disrespect of America is poorly received across all spectrums, especially by veterans. Trump could have been taken to task for his comments without playing an ill advised race card. Low blow, Jay.

Peachs
Peachs

You people who cloak yourself with the flag, are all about optics! You were forcing Iraq soldiers to take extended tours,lied and killed Vietnam soldiers to gain political currency and now you are causing more of the same and making the byproduct of your greed and incompetence the issue. Let's see some health care, How about a veteran hospital that works,start giving a damn there and it will cure your phobia of not receiving the respect you don't deserve!

BeOfService
BeOfService

@Randy05 He's just calling it like it is.  Why do you insist on turning a racial protest into "disrespecting of America"?  I bet if a bunch of Republicans did it you would think it was patriotic.

Randy05
Randy05

Colin Kaepernick has made himself toxic to NFL personnel executives because he chose to be controversial. He has every right to do so. But freedom of speech comes with responsibility and with repercussions. Teams also have the right to hire as they see fit. Is it noble to try to make a point by poking half the population in the eye, or could he have made his point in a less offensive manner? He has found out that freedom of speech has no guarantee of immunity to consequences. This is a great country!

Peachs
Peachs

How bout that healthcare Donald, and the jetsetting Price eating up our money producing nothing! Trump is waste of our time, can't pass gas.

Peachs
Peachs

Trump is using this NFL as a deflection of his impotence to show and accomplishments as a president. Not surprising when he has the weakest mandate of any president in history. Stop taking his bait, he is a bum looking for attention and running up his tap!

ptcrunner
ptcrunner

To the majority on Jay's comments page: So-called commenters on here like @compatriot @Bill OrvisWhite @DownInAlbany are small mindless conservative sheeple who do not possess minds of their own. They are brainwashed by snake oil salesmen who direct their thoughts on a second-by-second basis. Some on the aforementioned tags jump into these forums to rile up the majority of us who truly care about what this so-called president is doing to the office and how disgraceful he is carrying himself on a daily basis. Here is a leader who truly has an opportunity to make this world a better place, but he chooses to act upon his narcissistic childish thoughts to embarrass the United States on the world stage and is heavily damaging all things domestic from infrastructure to health care. This is not a man; this is a man-child who is unfit for office and should be impeached and removed from office before he causes serious damage to the Republic. Whether it is a dotard like @Bill OrvisWhite or a damaged 'human' like @compatriot, I encourage all rational thinking human beings like @MaryElizabethSings to live by this quote by George Bernard Shaw:   " I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." 

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

@ptcrunner You are behind the times, Maxine Waters has already impeached Trump and he is scheduled to leave office in a little over 3 years.  Keep up

Peachs
Peachs

I say let this bum stay, the right might actually put someone productive in the White House. This is the easiest term we are going to have as a Dem for centuries!

Starik
Starik

What is Trump doing for Puerto Rico? Fellow Americans? The Virgin Islands as well? 

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

@Starik redirecting the next hurricane away from the Islands, you Libs know he sent the first two

Peachs
Peachs

Nothing is Trump's fault..

Peachs
Peachs

The Republicans let the VI sit on the front row of their convention to look more diversified.

compatriot
compatriot

 BOOKMAN YOU ARE A PROMOTER OF ANTI-AMERICANISM RACIAL DIVIDE AND TREASON  THRU MARXISM

None Dare Call It Treason

"Treason Doth Never Prosper,

What's The Reason?

For if it Prosper,

NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON"

Sir John Harrington (1561-1612)

Obamaisafascist
Obamaisafascist

The author of this article is an idiot.  HE is the one resorting to race baiting by the very nature of this article.  The President was calling out unpatriotic, overpaid entertainers for being disrespectful to the very people (the fans) who put them where they are.  There was no mention of "race".  That was the card this author threw in.  Typical liberal tactics.  Deflection, taking out of context and outright lies.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

@Obamaisafascist The Jaybird is angling for the " Racist Crutch of the Year Award " it is handed out each year in Midtown

ElderSage
ElderSage

The good news is the NFL players seem to have quit beating up their wives and girlfriends while this protest has been going on.

DavidATL45
DavidATL45

It completely cheapens the flag when a draft-dodger like Trump tries to wave the flag in order to promote racism and the totalitarian cause.  The racism some people show here makes all patriots want to puke.  If only we could send the racists to fight in Syria and Afghanistan.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

@DavidATL45 Trump used to belong to the KKK ( wait, that was Robert Byrd, the Head of the Democratically controlled Congress, sorry Donald )  

juvenal
juvenal

Dinka and Nuer gladly kill each other not because of melena but tribe-all conflict is tribal.....now we have the rude tribe, won't agree to common courtesy..Trump them! 

Starik
Starik

@TBS  Does AARP claim to be a non profit? The dues are really low. 

TBS
TBS

And her husband. Get ready for the deflections and excuse making.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@TBS  yep her husband was first and I was waiting to see if Ivanka did the same thing..

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@TBS

It's not like hubby deals with heads of state and... oh wait.

monty1
monty1

@BuckeyeGa  Was she secretary of state handling our assets over seas? DIdn't think so. Next.

KUTGF
KUTGF

Who here thinks the AARP is an insurance company?  Anyone?

td1234
td1234

@KUTGF Do they sell insurance as part of the package of help to the elderly? Do they have any part of the association with an offshoot for profit company that sells insurance?   

KUTGF
KUTGF

@td1234 @KUTGF  Nope.  But hey you can provide a registration for them as an insurance company, amirite?

Starik
Starik

@KUTGF @td1234  They might be non-profit, td. Low dues. Getting some advertising revenue.