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Trump Runs But He Can’t Hide

Photo source MarineCorps NewYork | CC BY 2.0

Bigot Boy is at it again, dangling black boogeymen in another of his pathetic attempts to distract attention from his most recent public disaster.

President Trump, America’s Twitter-N-Chief, lashed out again at the NFL for not harshly cracking down on [black] players who do not stand for the national anthem. Trump oozed that tweet recently while reeling from rare bi-partisan criticisms of his pusillanimous performance during that Helsinki press conference with Russian President Putin.

Trump disguised his distract-attention tweet as a reaction to the announcement that the NFL and the NFL players union would negotiate on a policy regarding the national anthem. That announced negotiation suspended the NFL’s previously announced ban on protests during the national anthem…a ban that made Trump beam.

Trump again demanded ejection of any NFL players that protested during the national anthem. He cast the announced negotiations between NFL owners and players as owners’ caving-in to players. Yet, Trump has defended his carven cozy-up to Putin as the need for the two nuclear-armed adversaries to engage in negotiations to improve relations. Trump preens himself as a master negotiator.

The rancorous racism inherent in Trump’s tirades against black NFL players for exercising their First Amendment rights to raise concerns about police brutality assumed absurd dimensions during his post-Putin press conference antic to exploit the national anthem controversy.

The same Trump that extols the national anthem as a seemingly sacrosanct ritual for football games, when he verbally bludgeons black pro-football players, is the same Trump that trashed both the presidency and patriotism in Helsinki when he refused to publicly condemn Putin for the documented Russian interference in the 2016 election. Those Russian cyber onslaughts struck at the heart of America’s democracy: voting.

Rather Putin ‘punked’ Trump or Trump is just a punk when it comes to Putin, Trump’s constant denigration of America’s top law enforcement and intelligence agencies regarding their findings on Russian onslaughts borders on the legal definition of treason.

Federal law (18 U.S.C. Section 2381) defines treason, in part, as giving enemies of the United States “aid and comfort within the United States and elsewhere.”

Trump arguably gave ‘aid and comfort’ to an enemy by his all but licking Putin’s shoes on an international stage literally days after America’s top intelligence officer warned about Russia’s continuing strategy to undermine U.S. democracy and the Special Counsel’s issued indictments against 12 Russian military agents for hacking the Democratic National Committee in 2016.

During that press conference Trump embraced Putin’s denial of election interference. After that press conference Trump continued to discount mushrooming evidence of Russian election interference. Trump gives more aid to Russia through failing to order a comprehensive campaign of counter-measures to protect election integrity.

Trump has cited preservation of election integrity in America as his rationale to back various Republican voter suppression initiatives specifically devised to limit voting rights of Americans perceived to support the Democratic Party, particular blacks.

Trump is quick to declare, ad nauseam, that he’s done nothing wrong and he’s engaged in “no collusion” with Russia or Russians. Trump’s duplicitous denials of curious connections with Russia/Russians have a hollow ring similar to his repeated assertion that he is not a “racist person” despite persistent bigoted blather against Latinos and blacks.

Trump’s badgering black football players about insulting the military and American ideals when they peacefully knell in protest during the national anthem is farcical.

If standing with hand-on-heart during the playing of the national anthem is so sacred, why does Trump not demand either cessation of selling beer and other items during the anthem or require those in concessions line to stand with hand-on-heart?

If Trump feels all players must stand for the anthem why does he not compel fans at stadiums sitting on toilets at that time of the anthem to stand also?

The Trump that demands allegiance to the anthem is the President that dismisses the very issue at the heart of the player’s protest: police brutality. Trump barred his Justice Department from oversight of abusive police departments across America, a policy that aids-&-abets the police brutality that NFL players seek to stop with their protests.

The institutional racism that underlies both abusive policing and many Trump Administration practices is a scourge that has devastated African-Americans for over a century. Asserting that African-Americans are unpatriotic (particularly when they protest race prejudice) is a recurring element of that scourge.

President Trump’s tarring of black NFL players as unpatriotic for staging anti-injustice protests during the national anthem is a tactic castigated over a century ago in a book written by the first black to play in Major League Baseball – Moses Fleetwood Walker.

Walker, a University of Michigan graduate, made is mark on baseball in May 1884 when he played his first MLB game – five years before MLB officially banned black players in 1889.

“The Negro has often been credited with possessing a strong patriotism; yet the treatment given him at the hands of his fellow citizens is designed ultimately to make an enemy of government,” Walker wrote in his 1908 book, “Our Home Colony.”

As Walker noted in his book, “Persecution never rendered a people patriotic.”

Over sixty years after Walker made his historic mark the fabled Jackie Robinson broke the ban on blacks the MLB had erected. Robinson, like Walker, endured despicable discrimination from fellow players, fans and wider society. The racism Robinson endured on and off the field led him to reject blind allegiance to the national anthem.

Robinson, in his 1972 autobiography, wrote, “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world…I know that I never had it made.”

The accomplishments of Robinson and Walker are memorialized in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian facility located not far from the White House in Washington, DC.

President Trump did a [photo-op] visit to that facility in February 2017 where he pledged to fight against bigotry, proclaiming his intent to bring a “divided” country together – a pledge he failed to keep.

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Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

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