EVERYTHING IS BACKWARDS
I wonder daily at this backward world I live in. I have to work WAY too hard not to feel insane every time I see the news for the day. The Trump administration just spent over $200,000 tax-payer dollars so that Vice President Mike Pence could show up at a football game just to walk out when the players knelt during the national anthem.
The administration has waged a war against peaceful protesters in the NFL and those aren’t the only ones under attack, either. There is new legislation popping up from one side of the country to the other at the moment, and if we aren’t vigilant we are set to lose much more than a few football games.
Protesting in this country is bigger than it has ever been. The Women’s March in January was the largest protest ever. Of course, we all know Trump winning the election had a lot to do with that. Since then, we have seen time and again an administration that attacks at the very foundation of the constitution, the First Amendment. They don’t like our protests, and they are doing everything in their power to make it as difficult as possible to do so.
There are places where it is even working.
THE NATIONAL ANTHEM PROTESTS
Last season Colin Kaepernick sat down for the National Anthem to protest the systemic oppression of minorities in this country. Especially at the hands of the police. He started what has turned into a massive movement within the NFL, sparking thousands of hours of debates on every media network in existence. Hell, sparking intense debates every time I turned around.
Frankly, I have seen more about this on social media than any other subject in recent memory. Including the Obama Biden memes after the election. I only wish people debated other things with as much passion.
Trump especially has been on a rampage concerning these protests.
LET’S MAKE SOME THINGS PERFECTLY CLEAR
There are a few things to clarify, right off the top. The players didn’t even come onto the field for the national anthem before 2009. Seriously, before then the players would stay in the locker room until after they played the anthem.
So, why did they make the change? It was a marketing strategy to “make the players look more patriotic.” Also, the Department of Defense and the National Guard paid the NFL millions of dollars to make the players stand. The military literally paid the players to stand for the anthem in the first place.
The whole “stand for the national anthem always” rule doesn’t even exist. There was never a time-honored ritual until Department of Defense money, Trump, and conservatives turned it into one.
SO WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON?
During the 2016 season, Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee during the national anthem. He did it to protest the police killing of innocent black people. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Kaepernick. “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.”
This season many others have joined him, and Trump is losing his mind.
Initially, as was reported right here at Progressiveliberal.net, Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL called for Americans to be understanding of the protests. In August, during the pre-season, he said, “Protest to progress is what I call it, and we all have to recognize that if we want to see change, let’s go out and try to make that change happen in a peaceful and important way.”
TRUMP IS ON A RAMPAGE
Trump went on the defensive. In a rally that he held in Alabama for Luther Strange Trump said, “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!”
Yes. We have a president who insists that there were “very fine people” among the Nazis and KKK members in Charlottesville, and then calls NFL players sons of bitches for trying to make their world fairer. It’s officially backward land in America, led by the Cheeto-in-Chief himself.
On top of all that, the tweets. Oh, the tweets. For some perspective, here is what I learned while researching this piece on Trump’s Twitter account. In August, after the nazi killed Heather Hayer with his car, Trump tweeted TWICE about her. He tweeted condolences after the murder and another time the day of her funeral.
He wrote a grand total of 8 tweets after the protests and violence in Charlottesville condemning hate and calling for unity. A few of them were simply clips of one of his speeches. Not all 8 of them were decent, however. Of course, there were a couple that complained the media wasn’t being fair to the round orange baby man.
TWEETING ABOUT THE NFL
How many tweets has he written about the NFL, you ask? I counted those as well. He has tweeted 27 times about the NFL protests. It wasn’t enough to call them sons of bitches in a press conference he has since waged an all-out war on those players on Twitter.
People are starving and dying in Puerto Rico, people are burning alive in forest fires in California, and women are begging him not to take away their birth control. And all the Cheeto-in-Chief cares about are the brown people exercising their rights to protest in a peaceful manner.
The tweets range from demands that they stand to demands that they are fired right away if they dare to continue kneeling. He attacked team owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He even sent his Vice President Mike Pence on his own little protest, and cost the taxpayers thousands in the process.
THE $250,000 PROTEST
Last Sunday Pence went to a football game in Indianapolis. He was in Vegas and scheduled to be in Los Angeles the next day. He went out of his way to attend and spent nearly $200,000 more than if he had simply flown to L.A. Just so he could walk out as soon as the players knelt for the National Anthem.
This begs the same questions that come up time and again with conservatives. Questions like, how do they not see how hypocritical they are? How is it okay for them to protest and not the NFL? Why aren’t conservatives pissed off about the exorbitant waste of money? Of course, us thinking humans know the answers to those questions, we simply don’t like the answer.
The rules don’t apply to white men in power. They never have.
GOODELL HAS CAPITULATED
Unfortunately, the news broke that Goodell is now considering making the payers stand for the National Anthem. He wrote a letter to teams. He starts the letter by talking about how football is supposed to bring people together and the protests have escalated to such a point that the divide is too large.
Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. – Roger Goodell
He is doing exactly what Trump wants, and silencing the players. He writes in the letter that “We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.”
He goes on to outline some vague plan about working with players in their communities to continue to work they are trying to do. The problem with that being, the work they were doing was kneeling during the national anthem. They didn’t do this in addition to work in their communities.
There are no programs in their communities. Police are still murdering people of color at an alarming rate. Nothing has changed. We aren’t talking about how to fix the problem, we are simply talking about how to end the protests. THAT is the problem, and now thanks to Goodell, they will likely be silenced yet again.
ATTACKS ON PROTESTS
The Washington Post reported in January that there were 18 bills introduced that were designed to crack down on protesters. Everything from prison time for blocking roads to being able to charge protesters with racketeering, Most of them were shot down, but a few have passed or are in committee.
Lee Rowland is a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. She told ThinkProgress that “This is a marked uptick in bills that would criminalize or penalize protected speech and protest, and every person should be alarmed at that trend.”
She went on to say, “We should also be alarmed by the attitude they betray, which is that when Americans get out into the streets and make their voices heard — recently, in record numbers — their elected representatives’ response is not to listen to those concerns but to attempt to silence and criminalize them.”
TRUMP HAD SO MANY CHANCES
Trump had a chance, a real chance, to wage an all-out war on white supremacy. Instead, he barely made a whimper on Twitter. He had a chance to really hear what these players are trying to say and instead tweeted out more vitriol than he ever dreamed of aiming at the KKK. All of this and he expects us to believe that is ISN’T racist?
This is called gaslighting. That and the barrage of tweets about it are all gaslighting. Trump is an expert at this tactic and deploys it often.
Like racism in this country, the attacks on our freedoms are systemic. It is more than one man. It is more than Trump can do by himself. We have known for years that the GOP wanted to send us back to the dark ages. There are officials from the White House all the way down to town councils that would love to see an end to protests altogether. Unless, of course, it benefits their cause, then it’s okay.
It’s up to each and every one of us to take up the fight wherever we can. Things have a chance to get better. We are having the conversations, as painful as that may be at times. If we can stick together and stand up for the right things, we have a real chance of coming out of this.
Please, love each other relentlessly, it has never been more important.