Tensions are palpable during President Trump’s ninth month in office; White House firings, travel bans, protests, and tweet-storms that are inflicted on the public almost daily have taken their toll on the nation’s capital. Trump manages to rally his supporters against the NFL while pushing yet another travel ban. His efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act have been fruitless and, some think, rightly so. Trump’s time in office has brought to light, if not greatly affected, the country’s divisions.
Trump’s latest target has been the NFL, which may have been unusual for any other president, but I think we’ve seen that everything Trump does would be unusual for any other president to do. His attack was centered around the players’ choice to kneel or sit during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism against African-Americans in the wake of Trump’s election. By quietly sitting out the anthem, the players are exercising their right to free speech and their right to protest. However, Trump, along with his supporters, conservative pundits, and even celebrities, see this as an act of disrespect toward the flag and the country. But these players are perfectly representing what the flag is symbolic of: freedom. Their freedom to protest and speak out against what they believed is wrong is exactly what the flag and the national anthem stands for.
These players are using their position and privilege to protest an unfair system. And thankfully, many other celebrities and influential people are doing the same. Stevie Wonder took a knee at his concert, saying, “Tonight, I‘m taking a knee for America. I’m taking both knees. Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world and our globe.” Singers Pharrell Williams, John Legend and rapper Diddy also took a knee at their concerts. These peaceful protests by influential African-Americans and by people who recognize that there is still racism in this country show that the divide in this country is real and will only continue to grow.
While Trump has been tweeting his heart out over a matter of, frankly, little significance, he has failed to notice the destruction in Puerto Rico. Rather than focusing his own attention and the country’s attention on fellow Americans who have been without light, flooded, and in great danger for the past week, Trump chooses to bully the NFL over their “bad ratings.” It seems obvious where our President’s priorities lie.