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Trump wants to remove anti-racist NFL protesters from the country

Like always, his words are meaningless. But there's plenty of meaning in the intent behind them.

WASHINGTON D.C. - APRIL 19: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick presents President Donald Trump with a New England Patriots helmet while team owner Robert Kraft looks on at right during a ceremony at the White House in Washington D.C. on Apr. 19, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON D.C. - APRIL 19: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick presents President Donald Trump with a New England Patriots helmet while team owner Robert Kraft looks on at right during a ceremony at the White House in Washington D.C. on Apr. 19, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

CNN and Mike Pence debased themselves Wednesday by applauding President Trump for his tireless, fruitful efforts (via Twitter) to put an end to the most intractable conflict of our time: protests against racial injustice at professional football games.

Naturally, Trump was more than eager to take an unearned victory lap. On Fox & Friends Thursday morning, he addressed the NFL’s new guidelines cracking down on protests by repeating his insistence that black people shouldn’t complain about racism, and that to do otherwise would be grounds for removal from the country.

“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 country,” he told host Brian Kilmeade.

Since last September, Trump — who probably has at least a few words of the national anthem committed to memory — has carved out time from his busy golf schedule to repeatedly weigh in on the protests by dozens of NFL players who have chosen to kneel, sit, or otherwise demonstrate against institutionalized racism and police brutality during the pre-game recitation of the national anthem.

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His comments just before Week 3 of the 2017 NFL season ignited a nationwide day of action across the league, with hundreds of players and personnel standing together on the field in a show of solidarity.

After a season in which the protests themselves garnered almost as much attention as the actual games — which is kind of the point of a protest — the NFL on Wednesday unveiled a new policy aimed at curbing these protests by either confining them to the privacy of the locker room or levying steep fines on anyone who refuses to stand during the anthem while on the field.

That decision was immediately slammed by the NFL Players’ Association. At least one team chairman has already stated publicly that he will personally pay the fines assessed to his players who ignore the new rule and continue to protest on the field.

“I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest,” said Christopher Johnson, chairman of the New York Jets and brother of Trump administration official Woody Johnson. “There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines.”

The president of the United States is apparently incapable of such nuance.

Trump’s comment about removing black protesters from the country is nonsensical, arguably to the point of meaninglessness. But it’s nevertheless telling for whom he reserves his most bombastic condemnations.

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There is a place in Donald Trump’s America for white supremacists. There is a place in Donald Trump’s America for people who celebrate and revere the dismantling of the United States. There’s even a place in Donald Trump’s administration for Nazis. But there is no place in Donald Trump’s America for black people with the audacity to silently demand not to be murdered at a traffic stop.