President Donald Trump continues to argue with athletes on Twitter. After a weekend criticizing the UCLA players released from a Chinese prison recently, Trump returns to attacking NFL player protesters.
Early Monday, Trump issues a Twitter statement reconfirming his wish that NFL league officials penalize protesting athletes. Once again, the president pressures a private organization into harming employees that verbally oppose his agenda.
Oakland Raiders running back, Marshawn Lynch, sits during the national anthem on Sunday before his team’s game versus the New England Patriots. This act does not escape Trump’s notice.
Lynch’s 67 yards, includes a long rush for 25 yards. However, his personal performance and his team’s 33-8 loss drowns in the storm following Trump’s twitter critique.
Earlier this year, Trump attacked NFL athletes for lacking military patriotism. This happens despite multiple players stating the choice to kneel reflects opposition to police brutality. The athletes speak for themselves saying they are not anti-military or against America.
Trump chooses to view any speech outside of his particular perspective as a threat needing attack. After backtracking on the UCLA players’ release and his subsequent statements wishing he had left the collegiates in China, Trump re-engaged his assault upon the speech of anthem protesters.
Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2017
“Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.”
Comparatively, this desire is less severe than previous wishes. When widespread kneeling first occurs throughout the NFL, Trump calls the athletes “…son(s) of a bitch” and demands their employment termination. It is unusual for a sitting president to pressure non-government entities into firing employees over opposition speech. Unfortunately, this president does exactly that.
Notably, Trump only attacks those that he perceives as political opponents.
Reliance on the furor following actions like Lynch’s protest drums up support for his base and agenda. For some reason, his political coalition sees speech opposing police brutality as a threat.
Perhaps, the president still believes that police act too softly towards suspects. He stated to law enforcement officials in July, “Please don’t be too nice.” Considering suspects are not all criminals, the president seems to favor rough treatment towards a group that includes innocent people.
If this truly encompasses his stance, protests against police brutality meet the definition of political resistance.
Aggressive vocal opposition to speech-based protests falls singularly upon Trump’s political opposition. While players like Lynch endure threats from the White House, more dangerous forms of protest movements remain exempt from Trump’s hardline stance.
Three months ago, white nationalists protested the removal of a Confederate statue. Their violent actions culminate in the death of a 32-year old counter-protester. These Trump supporters avoid full condemnations from the White House.
Instead, the administration attempts equivocation by drawing a comparison between the white nationalists and counter-protesters. Trump asserts, “some very fine people,” exist within the white nationalists.
Some of these white nationalists believe the U.S. needs to break into several small ethno-states; NFL players wish to keep the country together. One group’s goals are objectively more benign than the others.
This continued willingness to denounce the rights of athlete protesters as something more dangerous to American society than white nationalist ideals remains troublesome.
If athletes receive punishment for anthem protests, Trump proves the power of the bully pulpit influences the actions of private organizations. Causing employment loss based on political leanings may prove the current administration a destabilizing force against America’s democratic institutions and culture.
Featured Image By Keith Allison Via Flickr/CC-By-SA-2.0.