Of all the slanders that have appeared in the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages, none is more offensive to truth than this statement, which led off yesterday’s paper concerning the NFL fiasco Trump engineered.
“The progressive forces of identity politics started this poisoning of America’s spectator sport last year by making a hero of Colin Kaepernick…”.
I honestly had to pause and take a deep breath when I read that. The sheer effrontery of blaming the divisiveness and rancor in which America finds itself on Colin Kaepernick!
Colin didn’t start this. Progressives didn’t start this. Democrats didn’t start this. There has been a single casus belli, the spark that ignited the passions that are tearing this country apart: Donald J. Trump.
Oh, sure, the proximate cause of Sunday’s historic “take a knee” explosion was Colin’s decision, in the summer of 2016, not to stand during the national anthem.
But few even noticed before the right decided to make this a do-or-die wedge issue, to rile up their base of resentful white men. For the Wall Street Journal to now allege that Colin “put partisanship above a symbol of nationhood” is neither historically accurate nor intellectually honest. Trump was the divider who began this current civil war. Trump was the racist birther who still has never apologized for his slur of Barack Obama. Trump was the pussy groper, the hater of Mexican immigrants, the mocker of disabled people, the insulter of Hillary Clinton, the disparager of everyone who doesn’t agree with him, the defender of the KKK, the heterosexual, three-times married hero of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, the inciter, the race-baiter, whose angry, fallacious invective ripped apart an already fraying consensus in America. It wasn’t Colin Kaepernick who started this, and for Rupert Murdoch’s paper to say it was is a fib of the highest order.
Among the other lies in their lead editorial is this: “Most Americans agree with Mr. Trump that they don’t want their flag disrespected, especially by millionaire athletes.” Let’s break that down, starting with the “millionaire athletes” quote. It’s odd, to the point of crazy, that the Wall Street Journal is suddenly whipping up class resentment against “millionaire athletes.” The Journal is, after all, the newspaper that regularly features a section called “Mansions” that celebrates the accumulation of wealth as the highest of all human ideals. Of course, most of the millionaires and billionaires routinely celebrated in the Wall Street Journal are white men; perhaps it’s the fact that most of the NFL players who are taking a knee are black is what is so galling to Murdoch & Co.
As to “most Americans” agreeing with Trump, first of all, we have no polls yet to support this statement; it’s wishful thinking. But we do have a poll, taken shortly before the NFL situation, in which an astonishing 66% of all Americans say that Trump is a divisive figure. That number can only go higher the next time the question is asked.
I would wager that “most Americans” support the right of NFL players to take a knee. Besides, the message from the players—which I believe is truthful—is that this has nothing to do with the flag, or the anthem, or first responders, or how many American soldiers have died in war, or any of those other smokescreens of patriotism. By refusing to stand during the anthem, the players are declaring their personal opposition to Donald J. Trump. The NFL has joined The Resistance.
ESPN, the leading sports network, is not known as a liberal mainstay. This is sports T.V., America in its purest essence: conservative, family-oriented, beyond politics. And yet, here’s ESPN the other day calling Kaepernick “the biggest winner” of Trump’s war on professional sports. “This [Sunday] show of solidarity was a blowout victory for Kaepernick,” the network declared, which means that it was also a blowout defeat for Trump.
(Some rightwingers will point out that ESPN is partly owned by Disney, which Breitbart will portray as a Jewish-liberal corporation; but the other co-owner is the Hearst Corp., a conservative media outlet. So that argument is just another way to deflect attention from the issue.)
Has Trump gone too far this time? I hope so. But so lost in their spleen of white supremacy and resentment are his followers that I no longer put any hope in their coming to reason. Even though they stand to inherit Pence—arguably far more rightwing than Trump—if Trump is overthrown, their fragile egos cannot abide a desertion from the cause. Like Hitler’s nazi stalwarts, who continued to believe even after the Chancellery was blown to bits and the fuhrer lay dead by his own hands—like the Japanese soldiers on Pacific atolls, who hunkered down in caves for decades after Japan surrendered, fighting a fantasy war which, for them, never ended—Trump’s militant fans will stand by their man. He will go down, for sure; they will not. This is going to be a problem.