If you ever doubt the pernicious effect Comrade Trump has on the social and political fabric of this unfortunate country, look at this statement by Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League:
It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.
This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.
First he acknowledges that taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem was NOT an unpatriotic act. He then creates a policy that’s based entirely on what he’d just admitted was ‘a false perception.’ From the beginning, NFL players taking a knee was about social justice and police violence against unarmed black men. It was never about the flag or the national anthem.
This new NFL policy is cowardly bullshit made in deference to a bullying POTUS who lies and is willing to corrupt any person or institution that he dislikes at any given moment in time. Goodell goes on to say this:
[A]ll league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.
Forced ‘respect’ isn’t respect; forced ‘patriotism’ isn’t patriotism. It’s just compliance. This sort of submission to bullying is not only injurious to the concept of a free society, it also encourages Comrade Trump to continue to lie and bully others. For example, this morning Trump doubled down on his bullying, saying:
“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe you shouldn’t be in the county.”
Cowardly bullshit from a draft-dodging bully who hasn’t ever in his life willingly made any sort of sacrifice for his country.
Goodell and others have described the locker room option as a compromise between respect for the flag/national anthem and the right to protest. Again, that’s cowardly bullshit. It would be cowardly bullshit even without the hypocrisy of having admitted the protest was NOT unpatriotic. Limiting protest to a closed room out of sight is NOT a compromise; it’s a cowardly and underhanded strategy to silence the protest.
But here’s a true thing: NFL teams are private companies, and the First Amendment doesn’t prohibit private companies from stifling political speech. The NFL has a legal right to cave in to Trump’s bullying.
But here’s an even more important true thing: the NFL can force players to either stand during the national anthem or hide their protest in the locker room — but in doing so, they erode genuine respect for the flag, for the national anthem, and for the United States. True patriotism, true respect for the things that make this nation great sometimes means confronting ugly truths.
Taking a knee to protest injustice is by far more patriotic than submitting to the demands of a bully.