Trump Tackles the NFL!

When it Comes to the NFL, Trump Should be Flagged and Ejected for Unnecessary Roughness

taking a knee
Taking a stand by taking a knee: NFL players, including Colin Kaepernick (#7)

W,J. Astore

President Trump has once again attacked the NFL for exactly the wrong reasons.  He wants NFL owners to fire players who take a knee during the national anthem.  Their sin, according to Trump, is disrespecting the American flag.  Trump also complains that the game has gotten soft, that big and exciting hits of the past are now penalized, so much so that today’s game is boring precisely because it’s insufficiently violent.

Nonsense.  First, few players dare to use the game as a platform for protest, perhaps because they fear being blackballed like Colin Kaepernick, the talented quarterback who can’t find a job because he took a knee in protest against racism.  Second, the NFL is awash in patriotic displays, everything from gigantic flags and military flyovers to special events to honor the troops.  Just one example: During the opening game of this season, uniformed troops waving flags ran out on the field ahead of the New England Patriots as the team emerged from the tunnel.  What are troops in camouflaged combat uniforms doing on the field of play?

With respect to violence, the NFL has only lately begun haltingly to address crippling injuries, especially brain abnormalities due to recurrent hits and concussions.  Watching an NFL game is often an exercise in medical triage, as players are carted off the field with various injuries.  A new feature this season is a tent on the sidelines that injured players may now enter to be treated away from the incessantly probing eyes of sideline cameras.  Careers in the NFL are often cut short by crippling injuries, yet Trump claims the game is going down the tubes because it’s not violent enough.

Trump represents a minority view (I believe), but nevertheless a vocal one.  Given his narcissism and the grudges he carries, one wonders if he attacks the NFL because of his failed bid to acquire the Buffalo Bills team back in 2014.

Football is the most popular sport in America.  It speaks volumes about our culture.  That Trump sees it as insufficiently violent and insufficiently patriotic — and that he’s cheered for making these claims — points to the gladiatorial nature of America’s imperial moment. Bread and circuses at home, wars abroad.  And U.S. politicians who fiddle while the world burns.

Update: Trump’s comments have drawn a response during the first NFL game today (played in England).  Here’s the headline at the Washington Post:  NFL Week 3: Ravens, Jaguars respond to President Trump’s comments by linking arms, kneeling during anthem.  It will be interesting to see how other teams respond today and during Monday night football.

13 thoughts on “Trump Tackles the NFL!

  1. Donald Trump’s Draft Deferments: Four for College, One for Bad Feet. I guess when the Trumpet had his chance to enlist or be drafted during the Vietnam War he took a knee. The Trumpet is the classic Chicken Hawk, that is his bravery increases the further remote he is from the battlefield in terms of time and space.

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  2. I can remember back in elementary school in the 1950s when our teachers told us of a change to the Pledge of Allegiance which we had to recite every day. The change involved the insertion of a two-word prepositional phrase indicating that our constitutional republic had somehow gotten a demotion, sinking from “the supreme law of the land” to a position “under” something called a “Gawd” — a “being” which somehow had pretentions of “supremacy” itself. Since this new addition violated the Constitution’s prohibition against the joining of Church and State, however, our teachers told us that we didn’t have to say the new words if we didn’t want to do so. We could just “hold our breath,” they advised, instead of mouthing the religious words. Then we could resume our recitation once we got back to the non-religius words of The Pledge. We little kids, though, would never dream of setting ourselves apart from our peers, so most of us just went on mouthing the whole thing.

    Later in life, as I grew and became more politically aware, my widowed working-class mother gave me my first political lesson: “A vote for a Republican is a vote against yourself.” As Forrest Gump would say “Momma always had a way of explaining things to me so that I could understand them.” In time I grew irritated at having to recite The Pledge every day in school. Once I learned the source of the religious modification of The Pledge, I started thinking of it as “The Eisenhower/MCarthy School Prayer,” since the red-baiting Republicans of that era had insisted on implementing their religious propaganda in the country’s public schools.

    At any rate, going along with this “hold your breath instead of uttering the offensive prepositional phrase” strategy had its consequences. Fast forward many decades and I remember a Congressional Representative from Washington State who got the duty of leading The Pledge at the start of Congress one day. He held his breath in the “wrong” place, it seems, and angry headlines erupted in the press the following morning. See, for example:

    McDermott omits ‘God’ from Pledge, The Washington Times (Tuesday, April 27, 2004). The opening subtext reads:

    “Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, yesterday did not say the words “under God” as he led the House in its daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.”

    So now other people want to tell us not only when we must sit and stand, but also when we must breathe and what syllables we must emit from our mouths on command. What an Orwellian nightmare the United States has become. Even if we proles inhale or exhale, stand, sit, or kneel at the “appropriate” time, we still may not assuage the fear in our corporate/military overseers that we might silently harbor “unapproved” thoughts. As Orwell put it in 1984:

    “In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.”

    Why, didn’t the U.S. military just win another smashing victory on the Malabar Front the other day?

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    1. From what I have seen of the United States over the past seven decades of my life, I think that “allegiance” hardly describes the craven, browbeaten alacrity with which the Nation of Sheep (from the book of the same name by William J. Lederer, 1961) responds to each and every crack of the corporate/military whip. A more accurate rendition of the Pusillanimous Public Prostration, I maintain, would go something like this:

      The Boobie Pledge of Subservience
      (from Fernando Po, U.S.A., America’s post-linguistic retreat to Plato’s Cave)

      I offer my obedience
      I pledge undying love
      To any symbol formed to serve
      The needs of those above
      Who rightly feel that I deserve
      The fist inside the glove

      I stand and mumble publicly
      With fear upon my brow
      Lest some mistake my silence for
      An insufficient vow
      Let all who see and hear me know
      How easily I cow

      Authority need never fear
      I swear I know my place
      I pledge to take the gauntlet slapped
      Across my beaten face
      The Seizure Class knows I’ll accept
      Chastisement with good grace

      About such things as freedom, I
      Have not the slightest clue
      By birth and class it’s come to THEM
      I know that it’s THEIR due
      To hand me down instructions as
      To just what I must do

      And so I promise faithfully
      To play my scripted part
      Each day I’ll chant Two Minutes’ Hate
      To finish, from the start
      Until I love BIG BROTHER from
      The bottom of my heart

      I swear to do as I am told
      I will not think too deep
      I’ll huddle in conformity
      Just like the other sheep
      To take my whipping like a slave
      And utter not a peep

      I pledge to stand up every day
      Within my schoolroom class
      And mouth my mantras on demand
      Without backtalk or sass
      Until the program makes me a
      Compliant, docile ass

      I swear upon my loyalty
      To stuff my head with fat
      And place my nation “under” “GAWD!”
      Supinely prone and flat
      With me then going “down” “beneath”
      And “lower” “under” that

      I swear to go to Sunday School
      Upon the public dime
      Each morning in my homeroom class
      I’ll mouth my dreary rhyme
      And if I leave out words
      THEY can Indict me for my crime

      I pledge and vow and promise that
      I’ll swear from dusk to dawn
      And never fail to chant or moan;
      To never blink or yawn
      And with each cry of “GAWD IZ GRATE!”
      My own soul I will pawn

      The Papal bulls and fatwas tell
      Me all I need to know
      Which isn’t much because I see
      I’ve nowhere left to go
      I swear to never set my sails
      Against the winds that blow

      The Popes, Imams, and Rabbis tell
      Me what and where and how
      The master’s overseer tells
      Me which row I must plow;
      To toady, genuflect, and crawl;
      To grovel, scrape and bow

      I’ll train to “hurry up and wait”
      And do the Bulgar drills
      To stand at rapt attention dressed
      In military frills
      Just point me and I’ll drop the bomb
      No matter whom it kills

      I pledge and promise on my word
      To do the things I ought
      To work for lower wages
      So my labor comes to naught
      I swear to vote Republicrat
      To prove I can be bought

      The Party keeps us all at war
      Which makes us quake with fear
      And so we give up all those rights
      Our ancestors held dear
      Which saves our enemies the need
      To take them from us here

      But I won’t think of bygone days
      The past I’ll just rewrite
      I’ll call my history “old news”
      To make it pat and trite
      Which sleight of mind will help me keep
      Its lessons out of sight

      With this capitulation I
      Agree to sell my pride
      Before I even own it or
      It grows too big to slide
      Into the shabby, craven cave
      Wherein I must reside

      Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2005

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      1. I hate to redirect our distracted attention away from the trivial and inconsequential “kneeling” and genuflecting by professional athletes thing, but the U.S. military and its proxy ISIS fanatics just killed a Russian Lt. General and two colonels in Deir Ezzor, Syria, a city recently liberated from a three-year siege by U. S. proxy ISIS fanatics. Some American “special forces” — i.e., illegal invaders — will die for this. Some Americans, somewhere, will die for this. Thanks a lot to General Mad Dog Mattis, that sorry son-of-a-bitch. He has really earned his nickname this time. Just goes to show what happens when the civilians in government turn control of the nation’s military over to a cabal of loser generals with sixteen years of “not winning” in the Middle East on their collective records. Some Americans will die for this, and they will have no one but their own fuck-up-and-move-up “commanders” to blame, as usual.

        See: Very dangerous escalation in Syria. Reckless US sponsored attacks on Russian forces in Syria risk a dangerous clash, by The Saker, The Duran (September 25, 2017)

        See also: Syria – U.S. CentCom Declares War On Russia, Moon of Alabama (September 25, 2017).

        I have no idea when and where Russia will respond. But they will. And some Americans will die. Anyone seen the U. S. “Commander in Brief” lately? This fool will find himself drinking his own urine really soon now. I hope he grows to like the taste.

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  3. Watching helplessly, decade after decade, as the brow-beaten sheep of the United States passively accepted ruinous, pointless “war” by their government as the instrument of their own self-enslavement, I came to view the last two lines of the national anthem as the epitome of unintended irony. So I took a stab at creating my own, more realistic, version:

    America the Dutiful

    In the Land of the Fleeced and the Home of the Slave
    Where the cowed and the buffaloed moan
    Where seldom we find an inquisitive mind
    And the people pay up with a groan

    While at home on the range when the firing begins
    Not a word of encouragement sounds
    The temp workers leave for their other day jobs
    And the cops and the guards make their rounds

    When the rich ones start wars that the poor have to fight
    And the chickenhawks glare as they cluck
    The recruiters hold raffles and promise the moon
    In the neighborhoods down on their luck

    Where the clouds hang around for the length of the day
    Casting shadows and fear all around
    A lost mother grieves and starts haunting the land
    Having just laid her son in the ground

    As the war against someone somewhere at some time
    Never quite seems to end or conclude
    War itself becomes reason for having this war
    Leaving no room for thought to intrude

    Unreported out west by vacationing scribes*
    Seeking rest from Access Mentalpause
    The tombstones in Aspen turn up all at once
    Having roots that connect with their cause

    Now the Fig Leaf Contingent has answered the call
    From a time long ago it’s returned
    Once again to buy time for the guilty to mime
    More excuses for lives that they’ve burned

    So the dead really died so that more dead can die
    Goes the “logic” that once more holds sway
    Understanding, the Fig Leaf Contingent steps up,
    Packs its gear and then marches away

    Late at night out on runway strips hidden and dark
    Where the citizens can’t see what shocks
    The Contingent comes “home” one-by-one, all alone,
    In a wheelchair or flag-covered box

    So the long-promised “victory” ever recedes
    As the Fig Leaf Contingent fights on
    Keeping faith with the faithless who’ve ordered its doom
    Like a poorly schooled chess player’s pawn

    In the dutiful land of the fruitcakes and nuts
    Where the sun shines between the two seas
    The hills in their lavender majesty stand
    Unaffected by men’s howling pleas

    For to go with no reason where no purpose calls
    Leads to nothing but more of the same
    Till the Fig Leaf Contingent’s utility fails
    To deflect any more of the blame

    And since something was lost surely someone has failed
    Only whom could those proud persons be?
    Not the chickenhawks glaring and clucking for war!
    Not the neo-new, know-nothing “we”!

    As the first mate harpooner admonished his crew
    In the mad Captain Ahab’s vast tale
    He would not have along for a ride in his boat
    Any man not afraid of a whale

    For the ocean is great and my ship is so small
    And the winds blow beyond all command
    Only fools and the drowned ever this truth forget
    Which is why they should stay on dry land

    But the day-trippers out for a float on the pond
    Seldom think of the perilous shoals
    So they send off the Fig Leaf Contingent to fight
    Absent only some well-defined goals

    Thus they played on TV what in real life demands
    More than Hobbits, and Wizards, and Elves
    And they taught us our duty much better by far
    Than they put into practice themselves

    So we’ve come back again from our exile abroad
    With our tattered ranks bitter and sore
    Having done what our Maximum Leader would not
    All of that and a hundred times more

    We are here `cause we’re here `cause we’re here `cause we’re here
    And for no other reason on earth
    But for us in the Fig Leaf Contingent, we know
    What our duty and honor are worth

    So we will not abandon to memory’s hole
    Those we loved and who loved us in turn
    Still we go to our graveyards secure in our trust
    That America never will learn

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2005

    Note *: “Scooter Libby’s September 2005 letter to the then imprisoned Judy Miller created one of the great enduring mysteries of the Valerie Plame saga. Urging Miller to give up her fight against Patrick Fitzgerald’s subpoena, Libby wrote: “You went into jail in the summer. It is fall now. You will have stories to cover — Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program. Out west, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work — to life.” Scooter Libby, Judy Miller and those turning aspens – What did Libby mean in his cryptic letter to Miller? She provides some clues., by Tim Grieve, Salon.com (1/31/2007)

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    1. Or, put another way, in the simplest, most “market friendly” version:

      Oath of Avarice

      I pledge allegiance to the corporation:
      A “person” as the judges have proclaimed,
      And place this “him” or “her” above my nation
      Whose Constitution “he” or “she” has maimed
      Pursuant to no legal obligation
      Except immunity, however named,
      For those investors in their campaign suites
      Who’d rather that we call them our “elites.”

      Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2014

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      1. Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight. With “man” now joined by more than a few young women.

        The last war that made any sense to me, in terms of national defense, was World War II, which was also a just war considering the enemies we fought. It’s no accident that’s also the last war we had a formal Congressional declaration of war.

        The folly, the lies, the hypocrisy: it’ll drive one crazy if you let it. I’m glad you found poetry as a coping mechanism, Mike.

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