I don’t watch pro football or any other major league sports. I don’t find millionaires beating each other up that interesting.
I guess I have to take some interest when one of the millionaires throwing punches happens to be the spoiled occupant of the White House, who struggles to denounce violent white-supremacist agitators but instinctively calls a football player engaged in peaceful civil protest of racial discrimination a “son of a b****” in a public speech.
National Football league players and owners have issued reasonably literate statements on patriotism, protest, and discrimination. Acts of protest during the National Anthem certainly invite intelligent and instructive discussion about race relations, the role of sport in our culture, the First Amendment rights of employees on the job, and the authority, right, and perhaps obligation of entertainers to use their public platform to make their communities better.
But Donald Trump, an entertainer with the biggest public platform in the world, invites no such conversation. With the accent ever on bully, he uses his bully pulpit as if he were still at home screaming at his television. Archie Bunker doesn’t engage in moral inquiry; he simply stews in his resentments, calling everyone not like himself mean names. Donald Trump does not invite people into his house to share ideas and build a common understanding as mutual partners in building a better America. He throws the insults that draw the best crowd response, the most retweets, and the most blog posts (dang, he got me again) but which also push to the margins those with whom he disagrees. One doesn’t talk with or find common cause with or take seriously the concerns of a “son of a b****.” Using such language does not build unity; it only builds anger, which Donald Trump this morning calls “great.”
It is tiring having Archie Bunker as President. It is also counterproductive to the effort to fight the institutional racism that has led some NFL players to break with one small tradition at the beginning of their games. Donald Trump doesn’t want to make that Presidential effort; he just wants to keep shouting at his TV and making America share his hate.