“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired.’”
Donald Trump’s incendiary screed played well among his most rabid supporters. In their eyes, Trump can do no wrong. Happily, most Americans—including wealthy Trump supporters and NFL owners—believe that Trump’s comments have gone too far. Most Americans defend the right of citizens to protest peacefully, even though they, themselves, might not agree with players who choose to protest by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem.
Trump’s divisive polemic provides just one more example of the countless ways that his words and behavior disrespect the principles upon which our nation was founded; they disrespect, that is to say, our flag.
President Trump, you disrespect the flag when:
• You badmouth immigrants while ignoring the words that appear on the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”
• You treat members of half the American population (women) as mere objects to use—or abuse.
• You bully opponents and lie to everyone in your manic quest for self-aggrandizement.
• You make a mockery of the First Amendment when you refer to “the media” as “fake news,” all the while staunchly defending Fox News and right-wing talk shows.
• You refuse to condemn racist groups or, for that matter, supporters who wave Confederate flags. Talk about disrespecting the U.S. flag!
• You cotton up to foreign dictators who would try to influence our elections, while insulting our American allies.
• You snarl government gears by playing various factions against each other, keeping everyone off balance, off center and off purpose.
• You refuse to be transparent about your financial wheelings and dealings, creating the strong impression that you’re more concerned about the wealth of your family than the well-being of America.
• You pretend to care that all Americans have access to affordable healthcare, while pushing legislators to pass laws that will take health care away from millions of Americans.
• You jeopardize the safety of the entire world by trying to out-bully Kim Jong-un, a loose cannon by any definition.
• You champion only small segments of society (wealthy business people who want lower taxes and fewer regulations; and angry Americans who blame “the other” for their own failures) while trashing anyone who doesn’t sing your praises.
Perhaps most distressingly, Donald Trump, you chose to focus on peaceful protests by football players rather than on the pressing issues which face America today: nuclear war, climate change, hurricane disaster relief, government gridlock, world hunger and so on.
Around the time of the Vietnam War, the comic strip “Pogo” included the phrase, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Let’s update that plaint. “Donald Trump, we have met the disrespector of the American flag, and he is you.”
David Treadwell is a member of the Class of 1964 and a writer from Brunswick.