On September 23, 2017, President Trump gave a speech at a campaign rally for senatorial candidate Luther Strange in Huntsville, Alabama. In typical Trump style, the President veered off message in order to cater to his vengeful jingoistic base by declaring:
“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 right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ”
The next morning, he doubled down on his buffoonery by recommending that Americans boycott the football industry.
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
One can look long and carefully through Article II of our Constitution and find no indication that is either lawful or wise for a sitting President to make bombastic demands upon private business practices. In fact, the expanded U.S. Code, Section 227 specifically prohibits it.
While Mr. Trump may have avoided violating the letter of this law, his statements certainly violate both common decency and professional propriety.
For a man who claims to be a Christian, he has no problem violating the admonition in 1 Corinthians 10:23:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
And Proverbs 15:18:
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.
During Fox’s The Five today, Dana Perino astutely observed that Trump’s strident words created a convenient distraction from allegations that his son-in-law used a private email account for government business, (not unlike Hillary Clinton); the President’s admission that he may have picked the wrong Republican in the race for Alabama senator; laying down cover in case his pick isn’t the winner, and the continued failure of efforts to fulfill his biggest campaign promise by repealing and replacing Obamacare.
If Trump is so smart, and such a “successful businessman”, as so many of his apologists claim, perhaps his purpose was to unify and strengthen the NFL franchise through reverse psychology. Or was he trying to use his new bully pulpit to wreak vengeance upon the institution for burying his U.S. Football League franchise hopes in the 1980s? He did proudly proclaim that he “hits back twice as hard.”
His motives have been rendered moot by the great damage he has wrought on a much bigger stage. By choosing divisive rhetoric to fuel the emotions of disparate segments of the population, President Trump has ignited a firestorm of discord in our nation.
President Obama made unhelpful statements throughout his tenure, pitting races against each other and unraveling many of the great strides America has made in healing racial tensions.
President Trump was elected to the unique and powerful position enabling him to restore unity to our nation. He is failing. In fact, if possible, he seems to be working hard to make it worse.
Football season has kicked off, providing a pleasant diversion from the tense uncertainties and vitriol of the current political climate. Yet, our President has purposely turned this iconic American pastime into a literal political football. He is fomenting a culture war.
Sadly, this latest example of inappropriate behavior is working to substantiate the hyperbolic narrative of Trump’s perceived racism. It also serves to feed the hateful hunger of his Nationalistic base. This unnecessary drama illustrates the vital difference between Patriotism and Nationalism.
Patriotism Shouldn’t Be Divisive
A patriotic President would have avoided falling into the narcissistic trap of pandering to his nativist cult followers. A patriot would know that, as a private enterprise, the National Football League has every right to adopt a rule expecting every employee to stand during the performance of the National Anthem and yet choose not to enforce that rule.
For a President to suggest, in such a personally derogatory way, that NFL owners should enact policies that reflect his own preferences hints at tyrannical, if not fascist, tendencies.
A patriotic President would act with forethought and decorum, understanding his role “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” – yes, even the First Amendment.
Mr. Trump is certainly unqualified to lecture others on ethics, yet he consciously chose to make divisive, judgmental remarks, sparking an explosion of unnecessary controversy and national discord. This is the antithesis of Patriotism.
Ironically, and without resorting to immature ad hominem attacks on the President, the NFL seems to have demonstrated a higher standard of Patriotism by releasing this public service announcement video during the televised football games yesterday.
Besides proving himself to be a perpetual embarrassment to true American Patriots, how will President Trump’s latest attack on national unity affect the future of Republican Party ?