Was it just a “foolish” off the cuff remark as some allege? Hardly. This was a carefully planned and calculated remark and it was by no means foolish. Cynical perhaps, but most assuredly not foolish.
But let’s back up. This all started last year when the middling quarterback of the San Francisco 49’ers, Colin Kaepernick kneeled for the national anthem. When asked why he kneeled he responded with:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder”
At the time I was bothered by his methods, but sympathetic to his stated concerns. There is a serious violence problem with a minority of police officers in this country. Although statistically that violence is directed more at whites than blacks. But regardless, I understood why he was upset despite my distaste for his method.
Then Colin wore police/pig socks in practice. Then he expressed his admiration for tyrants by wearing a Fidel Castro t-shirt. Subsequent interviews showed Kaepernick poorly articulating his positions, indicating a poor grasp of the very issues he was trying to bring attention to. Then it came out that Kaepernick had starting dating a muslim woman a month before he kneeled for the anthem. Needless to say, I dismissed Kaepernick, who was raised by white middle-class parents, as nothing more than a soft-headed fool and provocateur and a symptom of a President who played identity politics for eight years.
In the past year, other players have followed suit. The subject has continued to be one of conversation on popular football websites with the majority of people expressing anything from agitation to outrage at players kneeling for the national anthem. Defenders have responded by labeling those critical as overly sensitive, ignorant to the plight of black America or just outright racist. They have (wrongly) argued that this is a 1st amendment issue despite no one arguing that the players do not have a right to kneel for the anthem. This has gone on for 13 months, so this issue isn’t new. It was not created last weekend by the President’s comments. This tension has been building and smoldering below the surface for a year and it is the consequence of eight years of identity politics played by Barack Hussein Obama. Donald Trump simply chose to bring that tension and cultural warfare to the surface by tossing a Molotov.
A culture war was started eight years ago and Trump decided it was finally time to counter attack.
So at a rally last Friday, Donald Trump mentioned how he would like to see an NFL owner responding to a player kneeling for the anthem respond by saying “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired!”. Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL who has fought mightily to avoid taking a stand on this issue for the past year foolishly took the bait and made an enormous unforced error. His response:
“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.”
Predictably, over two hundred players kneeled or didn’t even leave the locker room in response to the President’s comments. The Ravens and Jaguars played a game at London’s Wembley Stadium and chose to dishonor the U.S. flag on foreign soil. Yet they stood for God Save the Queen, an anthem that was playing when most of Africa was placed under British colonial rule. Not that any of these fucking meat heads would know it. Football fans were largely outraged. Military and ex-military were furious. Barbs were exchanged on social media. Trump was accused of politicizing the sport, a statement that borders on the absurd for anyone who has followed the NFL. This is a league that tries to control every word and every action on the part of the players, but that was now freely encouraging its players to be political because PC culture prevents the owners or commissioner for disciplining their players. Make no mistake, the NFL chose to be political. Their hand was not forced.
Supporters of the players bemoan the fact that the original message has now been lost when the reality is that the vast majority of these players never knew the message in the first place. It was simply an opportunity to politicize an event, a chance to pretend they’re doing something for their communities when the sad reality is that 99.9% of these rich young men do nothing for their communities. Perhaps the worst part is that I suspect none of the kneeling players understand why their kneeling is so offensive to many. But perhaps the worst part is that many of these players have a level of recognition in their local cities where they could have simply called for a press conference or shown up to a rally to discuss their concerns over police violence and make a call to action. The media would have happily given them attention and millions would have heard the message. But they didn’t, because their outrage is phony. They are nothing but lazy provocateurs.
So why did Trump do what he did? For two reasons:
- A counter attack had to be made in the culture war. The Left has threatened to destroy all of the social progress that’s been made in the last several decades by playing identity politics. They have carved up the populace into personalized minority causes. They have co-opted the language and culture. Everyone is either the oppressed or the oppressor and the culture changes must be accepted by the latter because, well, you know, those oppressors are bad people. And in the process, the Left hopes to band all those oppressed groups into one big voting bloc that will reliably keep them in power, despite the fortunes of the oppressed getting worse and worse. The Left doesn’t have to actually do anything for these people, they just have to pretend that they care.
- Keeping his base pissed off and in his corner. Trump is going to need two terms to put a serious dent in the deep state. On a micro level, he’s going to need the support of a very enthusiastic and pissed off base to help pressure establishment Republicans into supporting him and to pressure the DOJ to hand out indictments to the criminals of the previous administration. As I’ve said many times before, Trump is an independent without puppet strings, the most dangerous kind of enemy to the deep state. The onslaught he has faced so far will never end and without a strong, energized base to counteract the malice from the establishment, he will not be able to save this country.
So if you’re still with me, a gold star for you. Trump is playing brilliant politics here. He’s exposing the politics in American institutions that should be apolitical and setting off a culture war to make them apolitical again. In the process, he’s keeping his base strong, enthusiastic and pissed off. He’s bringing a powerful organization like the NFL to a heel and heel they will. Ratings are already down significantly this year, in no small part as a response to Kaepernick and his peers. When revenues shrink even further, the NFL will return to being apolitical. He’s also saving one of the few things that still binds us all together, and that’s respect for the flag.
Respect for the flag doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to the terrible actions committed by the U.S. government or its people in the past, it’s about honoring the ideals that bring out the very best in us and the people that died for those ideals. That’s one thing we should all be able to agree upon.