Right Side: NFL Players Kneeling During the National Anthem

A President Trying To Influence A Privately-Owned Business Is Much Worse Than Athletes Not Standing During The National Anthem

Have you ever been part of a conversation in which you can't figure out why people are complaining about the wrong thing? For example:

Them: "Oh Lovey, I just don't understand how they could put that tile in the bathroom."

You: "Um, what about the 10-foot hole in the roof?"

Translation—A president trying to influence a privately-owned business is much worse than athletes not standing during the National Anthem.

The issue used to be about one guy named Kaepernick, who no longer reads play books. Now it's about a president named Trump, who evidently never read American history. At a campaign rally last September in Alabama, the president asked, "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’" While there was apparently no reason to bring this issue up since it was so last season, it was the only memorable thing in his speech, considering his candidate lost. He continued by saying that kneeling during the National Anthem was, " … a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect for everything we stand for."  

What a bunch of bravo sierra.

The President's analysis is expected because it's bereft of historical context (remember, during the campaign he and his friends freely admitted he doesn't read books). Do we need to point out the whole rebellion against authority thing that got this party started, or the civil rights marches, or any other march or protest in our country's history? Are we to assume that the head of the federal government is to deem what is an appropriate protest, or is not antithetical to what real Americans believe? While I find it repellent, the burning of the flag is a protected act, so one would think that kneeling before a non-burned version wouldn't spark presidential calls for boycotts, which he called for a few days later.

To correct the president, "what we stand for" is the protection of the individual against excessive power, or in Trump's case, influence, from state or federal government. This includes individual defiance. It allows us to conduct civil disobedience without fear of loss of life, liberty (barring violation of standing law) or property. American government 101. Granted, defiance may spark public condemnation. But public discussion is far afield from presidential tampering.

Yet where were the small government, so-called conservative pundits and voters during this verbal assault? Evidently, they were watching Trading Places, a movie in which they pretended to be big government, authoritarians. They applauded the president's attacks. They chose to selectively forget Madison's maxim that, "In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority." Imagine if Obama or Hillary Clinton had waged a verbally-bungled war against a privately-owned company (except for the oil and gas industry, of course), actually calling for employees to be fired. Republicans would have lost their minds, and rightly so. They would have pointed it out as another example of the federal government intervening in private business; the ever-expanding power of the executive branch.

The right response, by any president, would have echoed George Bush's comments following the faux outrage over the Dixie Chicks. He said at the time, "The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say … they shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out … Freedom is a two-way street … I don't really care what the Dixie Chicks said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people, and if some singers or Hollywood stars feel like speaking out, that's fine. That's the great thing about America."  

From bravo sierra to bravo.

But on this issue, with this president, our old friend Hypocrisy keeps stopping by. It's interesting that my Republican brethren give lip service to free enterprise and markets. Be it healthcare, energy or taxes, they talk the talk of limited government. They are supposed to believe in the power of the market to dictate what is not just a viable, desired product, but one that is approved by society. Further, they should hold sacrosanct that we are all individual political actors, not cogs in a collective. Yet, when it's their guy from their team, and it has to do with the flag? Well, that's red meat, and the lap dogs are hungry. "Fire the players!" "Hold the owners accountable!" Government-issued pitchforks, anyone?

It's worth repeating that the NFL is a private business. They have free reign to do lots of things (unless their business is called Hobby Lobby and they offer a certain type of health insurance). If you owned a legal business and a president attacked you repeatedly, would your first response be to reflect on your business decisions, or to ask who does this guy think he is?  

I am fully aware that the NFL's rules plainly state that players should stand during the National Anthem. I'm also aware that they have punished players for putting little bedazzled designs on their shoes, a seemingly far less offense in the average American's eyes. Our friend Hypocrisy has been making the rounds. But again, that's their business, because it's their business. The NFL and POTUS are two very different things. The NFL has no power, other than whatever influence they try to peddle on local, state and federal officials. POTUS, meanwhile, is the head of a federal government that encompasses more power than all the characters in a Marvel Comics movie.

You make consumption choices every day: What to buy, listen to, watch or, like right now, read. You've done just fine without the help of elected officials. As for those elected officials, also known as public servants, also known as President Trump, a reminder that one of the best ways to lead is by example. In this case, that means being quiet.

Dave Parker
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