When my father proposed to my mother, he did so on one knee. The Knighthood ceremony requires the candidate to take one knee before the Queen. When we bend down to speak to a small child, we often do so on one knee. I don’t know why Donald Trump hates one knee so much, but for the simple fact it challenges him— everything he is and ever wanted to become.
I can only imagine Trump was the kind of youngster who grew up thinking adulthood would be fun. He would earn lots of money, go to bed when he wanted, wake up when he wanted. I imagine he thought being president would be even more fun—making rules, ordering people about. But the presidential office was never intended to be the bastion of ultimate power, if so, America would still be ruled by a patriarch.
The president does not seem to be concerned with all Americans, rather just the 38% of them known as the Trump base. Mere athletes taking a knee in protest goes against everything Trump stands for thus far in his 10-month presidency. Trump’s cross-cultural track record suggests his anti “take a knee” position has little to do with patriotism, albeit a convenient and visceral distraction.
To be clear, taking a knee is a political and social statement against the disproportionate number of African Americans who are abused by law enforcement. But like the exercise of many inalienable rights, the movement itself seems to butt heads with Trump’s philosophy and ultimately his nationalist agenda. Trump uses this to his advantage.
Nationalism can easily morph into racism. This may be the slippery slope that Senator John McCain remarked on last week when he spoke of the “reversion to the attitude of the 30’s which was one of the major reasons why we fought world war II.” He did not need to explicitly use the word Nazism.
Earlier this year, Trump pardoned one-time Maricopa County Sheriff’ Joe Arpaio who was convicted of racially profiling persons of Latino descent. Many of his victims died in his prison or while incarcerated, took their own lives. Arpaio was finally brought to justice last year when he was convicted of criminal contempt, but in a stunningly controversial move, he was pardoned by President Trump who hailed him as an American hero. This is a somewhat counter-intuitive position for a president who has sworn to uphold the constitution of the United States of America. Ironically, Arpaio was guilty of violating the constitutional rights of his Latino suspects.
In February of this year, Trump rescinded the policy guidelines protecting transgender students in regard to school washrooms. In July, Trump then attempted to ban transgender military personnel. Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared that the Justice Department no longer considered gay or transgender people to be protected from workplace discrimination, in short, human rights legislation does not apply to them. In light of Trump’s recent stance on women’s health, Mr. Trump seems to discriminate against all marginalized groups equally, if such a feat is possible.
Trump is at war. The battlefield is America—morally, legislatively, and constitutionally. If denying marginalized groups their inalienable rights will secure his presidency, he will do so. Keeping in mind this is the same president who discontinued subsidies to insurance companies in an attempt to force Democrats to the table, while Americans suffered. Now, back to the NFL.
Fun-fact: almost 70% of the NFL players are African Americans.
Trump thrives on the culture war he has continues to propagate. Yet with one tweet and the scribble of an executive order, he could resolve all of these issues, but for the fact, he had engineered them. His approach is that of a modern-day dictator, divide first, then conquer.
When McCain, Obama, and Bush challenge Trump’s policies or the man himself, his base does not care whether Trump is right or wrong. As long as Trump continues to push-back against the establishment—the media, Twitter, past presidents, Trump is filling his campaign promise, any campaign promise. There is no moral compass in Trumpland. The “low to the bar” seats are cheap, yet always filled. There is an ongoing hypnosis, an anti-establishment hysteria blinding his base from recognizing that Trump, with his billions of dollars and proposed for tax breaks for the top 1% of the country the very embodiment of establishment—the king of the castle. Yes, the Wall Street wolf is cleverly pulling the wool over the eyes of his supporters.
While the players in the NFL continue to kneel, Democrats and Republicans alike may be asking themselves, “What exactly does Donald J. Trump stand for?”
k.g. Sambrano is a Canadian writer known for his works of literary fiction and poetry, and is an occasional freelance political writer.