President Donald Trump knows how to light a tiki torch, doesn’t he? Shortly after news broke that the NFL had succumbed to the demands of the grand wizard of “Make America great again” to punish players who protest during the national anthem, Trump, who crusaded against players’ rights to protest, made it clear that he still doesn’t think it’s enough.
“I don’t think people should be staying in the locker rooms, but still I think it’s good,” Trump told Fox & Friends’ Brian Kilmeade. “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem.”
While acknowledging that
his friends the NFL team owners did the right thing, he added a popular refrain that he uses for all nonwhites—the desire to throw them out of the country—that will have his base salivating like Pavlov’s dog.
Trump has done a fantastic job inciting his base with this white nationalism rhetoric while hiding his truest mission: taking care of the Trump family and the Trump brand. So Trump will yell, “Build a wall” in an attempt to look tough on immigration, claiming that people outside the country are taking away jobs from hardworking Americans, while using H-2B visas to employ immigrants to run Mar-a-Lago, his shitty Winter White House with the nasty food-prep area.
And who can forget the Trump callout on David Letterman’s old show, where he was blasted for having his Trump ties made in China? Plus, let’s not forget his recent dealings to “Make China great again.”
Trump wasn’t interested in the NFL solving the “protest problem”; what he enjoyed was complaining about the protest problem. Remember the stunt when the president sent lap dog and current Vice President Mike Pence to an NFL game, only for him to leave after the national anthem because he was so upset that players had taken a knee to protest the killings of unarmed African-American men, women and children by police? Trump loves a show, and the NFL played right into his hands.
In an attempt to appease “MAGA’s” most high, the NFL ran out here and told black players to stay in the locker room. They told black players that their voices don’t belong on the field. They told black players, who make up a large portion of the NFL, that silently kneeling during the national anthem would lead to fines. But that was never Trump’s goal. Trump was using the NFL to embolden his hate-filled followers, and Trump knows just how to excite his crowd by playing into their racist beliefs.
“During a rally in Alabama for then-Sen. Luther Strange, Trump said any player protesting was a ‘son of a bitch’ that should immediately be removed from the field for disrespecting the flag, the anthem, and the military—and, by extension, America,” Vox reports.
While the issue for those protesting has always been about race and the over-policing of African-American communities, Trump and other white nationalists reframed the conversation to make the protest about patriotism. In doing so, Trump moved the conversation into his white-separatist wheelhouse and used is as a fishing pole to bait his voters.
Because the NFL owners are suckers who bow down to the grand high exalted of tiki-torch bearers, they fell right into his trap. The NFL was deathly afraid of another year of having the most powerful man in the country bad-mouthing their product, so it cut black protest out at the knees.
Or, as Jay Busbee from Yahoo! Sports put it:
The NFL crafted this new policy in part to appease Trump and avoid any critical tweets from the White House. But if the NFL expected the president to be gracious in victory and move on to other topics, the league was sadly mistaken.
Instead, the league has managed to get its entire workforce mocked and disrespected in front of the country, with no sign that the criticism from the presidential bully pulpit will stop any time soon. That’s not going to play well in the locker rooms of the league, and not among a sizable contingent of the stands, either.
Trying to push this protest under the rug only created more backlash. America’s talking about the NFL again, and not in a good way. The conversation about boycotting the NFL is back on the table for many African Americans, and attempts to silence black voices have only amplified the purpose. And in the lamest of lame moves, the NFL tried to appease a president who is known for moving the ball, the goal posts, the field and the refs in order to win.
In my best DJ Khaled voice, I say to the NFL:
Editor’s note: A previous version of this post attributed a quote about throwing “ungrateful protesters out of the country” to Donald Trump. He did not make that statement during his interview with Brian Kilmeade.