Donald Trump—you, too, have the right to remain silent

Put down that brick, mortar and trowel! Construction on the Great Wall of Trump, intended to keep rapists and druggies confined to Mexico, can wait.

Kim Jong Un and his nuclear weapons? Put the Rocket Man on hold.

Donald Trump

Tearing apart Obamacare? Tax reform? Revamping NAFTA? Stamping out international terrorism? All minor inconveniences compared to the heavy issue that has just landed on the doorstep of the humble shack at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington, D.C.—ridding the sports world of bums and creeps who dare tweak the presidential beak.

Oh, yes, U.S. President Donald J. Trump has declared it open season on Colin Kaepernik, Jemele Hill, Stephen Curry and those of their ilk.

Just last week, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a paid Pinocchio for the Apprentice President, wailed against the evils of ESPN co-anchor Hill, demanding her ouster from the cable station’s dinnertime SportsCenter program. Hill had been a naughty girl, don’t you know. Basically, she called the POTUS a POS, and we can’t have sports personalities exercising First Amendment rights.

So fire her!

Steph Curry has no desire to attend a White House function to be saluted along with his National Basketball Association champion Golden State Warriors teammates? Fine. Trump issues a hissy-fit tweet that the “invitation is withdrawn!” No White House for you!

And we also have El Presidente in full howl and delivering off-with-their-heads urgings during a group hug in Huntsville, Ala., a sermon that was shallow in scope and dizzying in narcissism. Seems Agent Orange is unamused by National Football League players who kneel or sit and munch on bananas (hello, Marshawn Lynch) during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, so he’ll have to deal with that pesky Kim Jong Un and his nuclear play things at a later date. More urgent is the uprising by large lads in pads who are equally unamused by racial inequality in Trump’s America.

Colin Kaepernick

“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!” the Commander-in-Chief huffed and puffed on Friday, attempting to blow the NFL house down. “You know, some owner’s gonna do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired. And that owner, they don’t know it—they’re friends of mine, many of them—they’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country, ’cause that’s a total disrespect of our heritage, that’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for, okay? Everything that we stand for. And I know we have freedoms and we have freedom of choice and many, many different freedoms, but you know what, it’s still totally disrespectful. And you know when the NFL ratings are down massively—massively!—the NFL ratings are down massively…the No. 1 reason is they like watching what’s happening with yours truly.

“You know what’s hurting the game? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking a knee when they are playing our great national anthem. The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium, I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave.”

Trump failed to mention that Americans also have the right to remain silent. He should have tried it.

I mean, seriously, the president of the United States of America advocating the dismissal of professional athletes for exercising a Constitutional right? Kind of like Pope Francis excommunicating Catholics for kneeling in prayer, wouldn’t you say? (Not that I think Trump is pope-like.)

Tommie Smith, centre, and John Carlos, right.

Sports and politics aren’t meant to blend together. The games people play are intended to be a diversion, something to provide an escape from the realities of an oft-nasty and angry world. And, I suppose, Trump unwittingly accomplished that very thing by diving gob first into the playground with his off-the-rails rant against the NFL and the way it conducts business. After all, if the POTUS is talking sports, he isn’t talking about blowing North Korea and the rest of the world the hell up.

The thing is, crapping on out-of-work quarterback Kaepernick and pooh-poohing increased safety measures to reduce or eliminate scrambled brains (he stopped short of suggesting the game has become sissified) isn’t productive. Chances are we’ll see an increase in the volume of players kneeling this weekend.

I wish sports and politics were separate entities. Games should be games and life should be life. But it’s never been that way and never shall be. The 1936 Olympic Games were about Hitler’s Germany. Tommie Smith and John Carolos turned the 1968 Olympic Games into a political statement. Terrorists turned the 1972 Olympics into a horrible tragedy. There have been boycotts of varying degrees at half a dozen Olympic Games. And tell me sports and politics didn’t meet during hockey’s 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.

But I’m okay with Trump imposing his political position on the NFL…just as long as he doesn’t expect Colin Kaepernick, Jemele Hill and Stephen Curry to apologize—or be fired—for doing the same thing.

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