Donald Trump has learned so many things since he became president. He found out, after asking, that Presbyterians are Christians. Yes, he really did ask that and he is a nominal Presbyterian. He found out that healthcare is “hard.” Who knew? Just about everyone else in the country. That Frederick Douglass is a really good man who is doing wonderful things (despite being dead for over a century). He just learned in the last week that there are Category 5 hurricanes.
Trump has found religion and he has found patriotism. And, one assumes, he has found the way to the bathroom in the White House. What he has not learned are priorities. Three major hurricanes have hit the United States in the last few weeks. But Trump thought it more important to insult the ruler of North Korea during his address at the United Nations. Puerto Rico has no power and is unlikely to recover from Hurricane Maria for months. Maybe someone in the White House, using small words and lots of pictures, should inform him that the people of Puerto Rico are American citizens. But Trump thought it more important to disinvite the NBA championship team to their visit to the White House because one of their players (Stephen Curry) was hesitant about coming.
In response basketball great LeBron James (yes, even I’ve heard of him) made it perfectly clear why nobody wants to come see him.
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
It’s not just sports players who don’t want to come to the White House either. Not too long ago, President and Mrs. Trump declined to attend the annual Kennedy Center Honors. The customary pre-event reception at the White House was canceled with little fanfare after at least three of the five honorees said they would not attend.
Over the weekend, while the American citizens of Puerto Rico were without power, drinkable water, or medical care, Trump focused his attention on NFL football players who have chosen to exercise their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest. Beginning with a speech at a rally for Luther Strange in Alabama Trump draped himself in the American flag, trying to equate saluting the flag with patriotism. Someone should tell him that taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem at a sports event is not the same as saluting (or covering your heart with your hand) when you hear the Anthem played. Notice Trump during one of the debates:
Hypocrisy, thy name is Trump.
Yes, there are many good people who become genuinely upset when they see disrespect being shown to our flag. I am one of them. But our flag is a symbol, it is not an idol to be worshipped. Our flag represents the values that America stands for, and when there are people who honestly believe that those values do not apply to them, then I respect their right to say so or to take a knee.
What is truly disrespectful of the Stars and Stripes is to use our unifying symbol to score political points. And that is exactly what Donald Trump is attempting to do. In one of his latest tweets on the controversy, Trump spoke about “great anger.”
The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard. Great anger
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
Trump’s vendetta against the NFL is a well-known part of his history. Once again, he is using the awesome power of the Presidency to settle old scores. In the meantime, North Korea has come as close as ever to saying they are at war with us, Puerto Rico is drowning, and the GOP’s latest attack on the Affordable Care Act is going down in flames. Way to go, Mr. Trump.
He is now weaponizing patriotism in his attempt to maintain support among his base. The same people who fly Confederate flags from the back of their pickup trucks, or march waving the swastika. He has, once again, made it all about him. But what he really wants is for you to kneel to him, not the flag. The man who never served in the military is using the pictures of dead soldiers to promote his agenda.
Don’t let Donald Trump become the touchstone for what is patriotic in America. Don’t let him rejoice at “Great anger.” We need to come together as a nation, not let Trump and his minions divide us into “good” vs “bad” people. The Constitution grants everyone the right to protest peacefully. Trump took an oath to uphold and defend those rights. Once again, he has disgraced the office of the President.