The decision by many players in the National Football League to protest police brutality and institutionalized racism by kneeling for the national anthem has triggered a firestorm of controversy in the United States, with the pushback spearheaded by the president himself, notorious racist and sexual predator Donald J. Trump.
Bowing to the threats of boycotts by Trump fans or the possibility of – the horror – losing their tax subsidies, the owners and executives of the NFL announced this week that they would be imposing fines on NFL players who knelt during the anthem in a craven display of subservience.
But that wasn’t enough for the President, who appeared to suggest that NFL players who protest should lose their citizenship in an interview with FOX & Friends‘ Brian Kilmeade.
“I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still I think it’s good — 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, and the NFL owners have done the right thing, if that’s what they’ve done.”
You don’t need to be a dog to hear that whistle.
While this may not seem much at face value, if a football player shouldn’t be in the country, it logically follows that he would take steps to remove him from this country for his actions.
None of Donald Trump’s statements can be assessed without the context of his long use of coded dogwhistles, the policies of mass deportation he’s instituted, and his past threats of revoking citizenship for those deemed “unpatriotic.”
The proposal is, of course, beyond absurd. Can you imagine the president trying to tell the city of Philadelphia that he’s deporting their all-star safety Malcolm Jenkins because he knelt for the anthem? The riots would be instantaneous.
But this statement, coupled with his recent remarks condemning Hispanic gang members as “animals” represents a disturbing escalation of his rhetoric against minority communities in the United States.
The very idea of kneeling as a protest was chosen with the input of military servicemembers; Colin Kaepernick and his allies wanted to take a stand and be respectful at the same time, but it’s clear that there was nothing they could have done that wouldn’t have met this disgusting response from the white right-wing, which is reacting defensively to an existential challenge to their socioeconomic dominance and the racial caste system that law enforcement imposes on the American people.
Across the world, white nationalists and their conservative allies are exploring their options for defining who is and who isn’t a person – and how they can deny those people their legal and human rights. Gazans are all lumped in with “Hamas” and branded as terrorists; Hispanics here are slandered as somehow all being members of MS-13 and decried as “animals,” and now black Americans are being branded as “unpatriotic” and undeserving of citizenship.
As the Mueller probe closes in and new scandals erupt on the daily, the president is reeling and feeling insecure – and escalating racial tensions and pandering to his racist base is how he’s decided to dig in.
Listen to his remarks here:
"You have to stand proudly for the National Anthem. You shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe they shouldn't be in the country…the NFL owners did the right thing" -President @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/bt36t4EX5u
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) May 24, 2018