More Of The Same, Only A Little Worse

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Memo to America: SIGH.

In a year as rife with dumb as a year can be, with an administration so dumb we live in constant anxiety over our continued existence, with a president so dumb it’s a wonder his own autonomous nervous system doesn’t take over and save us all, this past weekend’s pontifigurd over the NFL was about as fucking dumb as it gets.

The reaction to athletes refusing to stand for the National Anthem during pre-game celebrations the Department of Defense has been sponsoring for the past six years has been the perfect storm of classic knee-jerk jingoism and modern-day white supremacy, or, as I’m sure future historians will call it, assuming civilization survives, the Trump Cocktail.

In Trump’s defense, which I can say with a clear conscience because what follows isn’t actually going to be in his defense, the weird commutative principle that equates the anthem, the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, a wartime president, and any individual soldier with a mythical “troop who sacrificed everything for your freedom out of pure altruism and utter nobility” predates Trump’s presidency by a whole shit-ton of decades. It’s still insultingly simplistic and disingenuous, and the fact that we STILL haven’t moved past this argument in 2017 explains in no small part why Trump is President.

This allows anyone with a particular axe to grind and a particular vested interest in everyone being stupid (or, these days,the stupid progeny of the stupidmaking oligarchs of the past) to take anything they don’t like that happens near some form of Americana to use dead and maimed soldiers as a prop for their own ridiculous political opinions.

And so it is with the many athlete protests against institutional racism and police violence, from the WNBA to Colin Kaepernick to this weekend’s Take A Knee protests which continue to prove that, for white racists, there is no acceptable way for minorities to protest racism. March and you’re rioting. Speak and you’re playing the race card. Stay silent during the National Anthem and you’re making a dead soldier’s mom cry.

This has always been the case, of course. There’s a mythical version of who the “good ones” were during the Civil Rights Era and since, for example, and the Chris Matthews’ of the world talk about like them like the public and pundits of the time didn’t treat them exactly the same way they’re treating and talking about these athletes now.

But this year, it’s playing out against the particular awfulness that comes with a President Trump. The emboldenment of racists and/or white supremacists. A chief executive who’s an authoritarian fanboy, happy to indulge his fantasies of ordering the peons around and calling for the firing of protesting players without knowing or caring what a stark threat to the First Amendment that is.

And all in a weekend where millions of Americans in Puerto Rico were without power, food, or clean water. Where the health care of millions was threatened by a bill that somehow managed to be crueler than the last two (though, thankfully, that one seems to be deader as well). And where Trump’s underlings rolled out his new version of the Muslim Ban, either taking advantage of the chaos caused by Trump’s madness, or giving him the OK to go off on the NFL during his Alabama rally knowing they could use the resulting chaos to their advantage.

The only upside is that when Trump’s focused on antagonizing the NFL, he’s less focused on antagonizing his North Korean counterpart. I guess every leaking sewage plant of a presidency has a silver lining.