Trump, Hypocrisy And Sports
“And Still We Rise.”
Over the past few days the news media has been awash with the foul-mouthed verbal attack by President Donald Trump against National Football League (NFL) players, mostly Black, who knelt as a form of protest over the senseless, unjust, and continued murder and oppression of Black people at the hands of white cops and a system rigged against them. I believe that it was the right thing to do.
Now I’m not going speak to or address the inappropriate use of language by a sitting American president who came over as an intellectually challenged bar patron jacked up on one too many Jack Daniels. Nor am I going to regurgitate his off-color reference to Black football players as having been birthed by a female dog. And I must say from the onset that I’m also not a big fan of getting down on my knees because that’s what Black slaves had to do when confronted by the “Massa” for real of perceived wrongdoing. I see it as a form of childish genuflecting and begging the white slave master for understanding and mercy. Begging him pardon on your knees it’s called. It’s a form of demeaning subservience.
But I do understand that this was an action meant to protest societal injustices on a specific race of people in America. So let me start with President Trump. Why should Americans act surprised when he calls people unflattering names? He’s demonstrated time and time again that anyone that gets in his way will be subjected to his tongue-lashing and name-calling. He’s called his own Attorney General “an idiot,” the President of North Korea “Rocket man,” and has put on public display the ugly, coarser side of his character. So the news media behaving all moralistic over his calling Black NFL players “SOBs” is just so much hypocrisy. This act of petty foolishness completely upstaged the national and humanitarian catastrophes in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and the Southern United States. The media helped to drive that narrative.
And there’s much more hypocrisy to go around. Approximately 19 NFL owners gave big money to then candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential elections knowing full well that he’s disparaged the handicapped, groped women and bragged about it, and called for his democratic opponent to be jailed – over and over again. They enabled a deeply flawed candidate – the worse in a generation – and helped him to win the election. Now these blithering hypocrites are seen locking arms with Blacks players protesting racial issues in America today.
For me the people who are aghast when Black sports figures protest and keep yapping about “time and place” and how the sport fields is not the place to draw attention to ongoing challenges in the communities that they come from is just so much stupidity. To begin with protests are about DISTUPTION. They are about calling attention and shedding light on issues that impact and affect communities and social groups. So to those who want to regulate, structure and “choose the right time and place” to protest completely miss the ESSENCE of protesting. Its effectiveness is PRECISELY because it’s done where if makes ordinary people uncomfortable, for maximum impact and exposure, and serves to jolt them out of their self-induced, collective reveries.
But let’s go back to the rationale offered by those who condemn the NFL players for kneeling and not standing during the National Anthem. They are outraged that these players by their actions have “disrespected those Americans who fought and died for our freedom.” Okay. Let me get this right. Which are the wars fought for America’s freedom. World War I? World War II? Vietnam? Iraq? Which of these wars threatened America’s freedom? World War I and II were imperialist wars fought as a result of the two great crises of global capitalism. They were fought to reorganize the world as a market in much the same way as the Pope’s Line did centuries before. Moreover, not since America’s independence has the country been invaded by a foreign adversary so I fail to see what threats to freedom that the military has to defend or defended. The Iraq war was and is about oil. The Afghanistan War was a military adventure and reaction to the events of September 11, 2001.
And protests by Black sports, entertainment, and cultural personalities are not new. Lest we forget white America excoriated and persecuted Muhammad Ali for his opposition to the Vietnam War (they hypocritically and belatedly loved him in death), hounded Paul Robeson, hunted Frederick Douglass, put a bounty on the head of Harriet Tubman, assassinated both Malcolm X and Dr. martin Luther King, Jr. and made life hard for many other Blacks who dared to call out racism, prejudice and injustices by white America. Lost in the conversation is the fundamental fact that sparking these new protests are the reprehensible actions of law enforcement, launching what amounts to a sanctioned pogrom, a brutal siege, against the Black community, and the fact that time and time again the unlawful and illegal actions of law enforcement against unarmed Black people have been encouraged and enabled by a biased and prejudicial justice system.
And that brings me back to Trump's foul tirade that brought back vivid memories of the kind of demeaning and insulting rhetoric that could have come from any white southerner in 1920s America. Be that as it may, let’s start where this thing began with Colin Kaepernick who is now blacklisted in the NLF as nobody wants to sign him up. This further exposed the hypocrisy of the team owners trying to look aggrieved and angered by President Trump’s injudicious comments.
I’m not a football fan. In fact I hardly understand the game. But from those who do, I’m told that he is a solid quarterback. And as a recent FiveThirtyEight (www.fivethirtyeight.com) shows, it is virtually unprecedented for someone as good as he is to remain unemployed for so long. Worse quarterbacks are immediately snapped up in the league. So there is no doubt that he’s been blacklisted from the NFL at the prime of his career because the team owners disagree with his politics — and in particular, how he uses his fame to promote those politics. Thing is that just like talented Black performers that were allowed to succeed only so far as they meekly and deferentially submitted to white supremacist domination and reinforced black stereotypes, the NFL behaves in the exact same way. President Trump is the standard bearer for this kind of long forgotten Jim Crow type behavior that is out of place in a 21st century America. He was eager and quick to call Black athletes unflattering, demeaning and insulting names but hesitant – very hesitant – to call white supremacists by name and saying that they’re “good people.”
A FINAL NOTE: Dear President Donald Trump and those who feel Black athletes kneeling disrespected the American Flag and National Anthem. Black people have endured the inhuman horrors of chattel slavery, designed 3/5th of a man, suffered the dark days of Jim Crow segregation, endure mass incarceration today, and now face police brutality and extrajudicial murders reminiscent of the old Jim Crow era. For too long, we’ve bowed, scraped, grinned and skinned (I’m borrowing from Malcolm X), been shot and killed like vermin, called every demeaning and derogatory name, herded into inner city ghettos like dumb, driven cattle, experimented on as so many guinea pigs and, as Angela Mayou so eloquently put it “And Still We Rise.”