This weekend, President Trump used his bully pulpit, the same pulpit that previous Presidents have used to bring the country together or to raise awareness about serious issues, to once again divide the country. Last month, in August, it was his response to Charlottesville, where a group of neo-Nazis & white supremacists marched violently, resulting in the death of one brave counter-protester. Instead of uniting the country against this vile, fringe ideology, he chose to create a false equivalence between people who were marching with Confederate flags & Nazi symbols and the people combating the ideology that views whites as the superior race.
Never mind the horrible situation in Puerto Rico, where American citizens desperately need help. Never mind the legislative agenda that requires the full attention of POTUS. Never mind the Russia investigation that keeps speeding up and probing into the inner sanctum of the White House. And when the president should have focused on the escalating situation with North Korea & with Puerto Rico, he was tweeting attacks on the NFL, igniting a culture war.
I can understand how Trump supporters wanted a candidate that bucked the establishment, that broke the gridlock of Washington and truly worked for them. But Trump is not a uniter; it was evident throughout the campaign. I’m quoting the New York Times’ Peter Baker here: “In his brief career as president and a candidate for president, Mr. Trump has attacked virtually every major institution in American life: Congress, the courts, Democrats, Republicans, the news media, the Justice Department, Hollywood, the military, NATO, the intelligence agencies, the cast of ‘Hamilton’, the cast of ‘SNL’, the pope and now professional sports.”
If Trump supporters wanted an outsider candidate, they got one that goes beyond any norms of human decency. He demonized free speech this past weekend, by saying that players who kneel during the national anthem (to protest racial injustice by the way) are being disrespectful. News flash: They are not disrespecting the American flag. They are trying to call attention to a problem that runs rampant in American society: the safety of young black people.
Trump claimed that this was not about race. That’s absurdly false. The NFL is predominantly African-American. He attacked two prominently black stars, including the NBA’s Stephen Curry. That didn’t go well for him. And remember, once again, a point that cannot be stressed enough: he has condemned NFL players who “take a knee” more harshly than white supremacists and anti-Semites who chanted, “Jews will not replace us”. So yes, this is about race.
So much more can be written about this – and it has. A president is supposed to embody the moral authority of the country, especially the leader of the free world. Unfortunately, President Donald Trump has no credibility left, no moral authority and sometimes I wonder any moral principles.