How distressingly ironic that just a few days before the Memorial Day Holiday weekend that a President would suggest that if people don’t stand respectfully during the national anthem they “probably” should not even stay in the Country?
For most Americans these days, Memorial Weekend has lost any meaning beyond the unofficial start of summer. It’s origin and intent were to set aside the time to remember and honor the men and women who died defending our freedom in wars. They didn’t fight to defend the National Anthem or any other symbol. They fought to defend our rights, including the right to free speech and assembly.
The billionaire NFL owners do have the right to tell their employees what they can do or not do while working, so technically and legally, they have the right to tell players (almost all African-Americans) to shut up, stand and salute the way the owners want. Morally… that’s a different argument. The players made it clear that kneeling during the National Anthem was no disrespect to the flag, veterans or the Country. They were calling attention to the real problem of a double standard – a lethal double standard – of law enforcement in the Country. You know… all men are created equal? You could argue that the form of the protest distracted from their intent, but the defense of the principle of equal justice under the law is worth speaking out.
Until now, the idea of a draft dodger questioning the patriotism of the players was absurd on the face of it. He manipulated the issue to divide Americans and distract us from his equating Nazis and people peacefully protesting hate. The defenders of Trump elevate symbolism over substance, and most of the most vocal people attacking the players’ protest have never served the Country in the military or any other way. Their idea of patriotism is limited to showing respect during the National Anthem before a ballgame and attacking people who don’t.
Now, the issue has morphed into the President suggesting that people who don’t stand during the National Anthem should leave the Country. A man who dodged the draft, is suspected of conspiring with foreign powers to affect an election and selling foreign policy to the highest bidder is suggesting that unless you salute the way he tells you to salute and when he tells you to salute then you should leave the country.
No doubt that many of the heroes buried in the ground are rolling over. Shame on us.