Athletes are standing up to social injustice – and to the God-King’s bullying – by #TakingTheKnee. (More)
“We MUST honor and respect it!”
Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag — we MUST honor and respect it! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Those patriots did not fight and die for pieces of cloth. They fought and died for what that cloth represents: our nation, our Constitution, including our Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment right of free speech, including the right to burn the flag – or simply kneel in protest during the National Anthem. It. Really. Is. That. Simple.
Oh sure, conservatives insist they win by losing:
In reality, Trump has taken the side of the flag and provoked multi-millionaire athletes into opposing patriotism. When several players for the New England Patriots took a knee during the anthem on Sunday, their own fans booed them. So do fans of the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins when members of those respective teams knelt.
Nobody will dispute that all Americans, including football players of course, have a right to do whatever they please during the anthem: kneel, sit, or stare dazedly into space – the latter being Trump’s own preferred stance during the ritual. But people exercising their rights in spectacularly televised ways would be wise to consider their actions carefully. What are they communicating? What are they accomplishing?
Don’t take the knee. Stand for the flag; hand on heart for the anthem – and then put your signature to the demand that this least American of administrations be investigated down to its bottomest murk and filth.
Mighty white of him to tell black athletes what issues should matter to them (conveniently, the issues that matter to Frum) and how they should protest (conveniently, the way Frum does, by writing stuff).
But here’s the thing: over 200 NFL athletes chose to #TakeTheKnee yesterday. Yes, in theory, as private businesses, team owners could set a rule requiring players to stand during the anthem. But unlike NASCAR owners – whose audience is overwhelmingly white – NFL owners respect black players’ right to protest.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin may think the First Amendment ends once players arrive at work, but team after team issued statements rejecting that yesterday.
So what’s the God-King’s next step?
I’ll go out on a limb – squirrels do that – and guess he’ll call on Congress to revoke the NFL’s antitrust exemption. I’m not surprised that the lead photo for that story is a nuclear explosion. Making private business owners change their personnel speech and conduct rules to fit the God-King’s diktats – under penalty of law – would pretty much incinerate the First Amendment.
Up next, no doubt, would be laws targeting retail owners who don’t force employees to say “Merry Christmas.” (Yes, the God-King really did promise that. Again, just two months ago.)
Congress will, almost certainly, refuse to pass such laws. Oh, some GOP hardliners will yell and howl, but enough staffers will come forward with a decades-long history of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that declared flag protests to be protected speech. As for federal laws forcing retail employees to say “Merry Christmas,” that violates the Establishment Clause.
And make no mistake, were Congress to pass a law requiring business owners to prohibit flag protests – or require employees to say “Merry Christmas” – then those employers are no longer private actors immune from First Amendment scrutiny. That “Congress shall make no law” thing would come squarely into focus.
So no, I don’t think Congress will bow to the God-King’s demands to incinerate the First Amendment …
… and then he’ll blame “The Swamp” when black athletes continue to kneel during the National Anthem, and when retail employees continue to say “Happy Holidays!” He – and his followers – will continue to be victims of “political correctness,” by which he and they mean that he and they can’t force everyone else to say and do what they want.
The rest of us will call it what it is … the First Amendment meaning something more than “You can say and do only what the God-King permits.”
Photo Credit: Stephen Brashear (AP)
Good day and good nuts