Those of us of a certain age remember when the national anthem was not only played before every NFL game but also broadcast live to millions of television viewers.
The networks stopped doing that when they realized they could squeeze in one more Bud Light commercial, but for some reason there was no hue and cry when that decision was made. In fact, there wasn’t even a whimper.
That could be because the networks realized folks at home weren’t standing in solemn silence, hands on hearts, gazing at the flag through rheumy eyes as they listened in awestruck reverence to the “Star-Spangled Banner,” but rather sitting down — most likely on their toilets.
But a couple of years ago, a black man started doing what millions of white people at home had done for decades — except he was doing it to protest racial injustice and police brutality, not because it kept him within arm’s reach of his Tostitos.
So this has nothing to do with patriotism. That couldn’t be more obvious.
If Donald Trump were a patriot, he wouldn’t have violated the Constitution literally the moment he vowed to uphold it by openly flouting the document’s emoluments clause, profiting from his presidency in ways that remain secret to us to this day.
If he were a patriot, he’d be laser-focused on Puerto Rico, whose people — 3.5 million American citizens — are currently in grave crisis following a devastating hurricane.
Then again, it makes perfect sense that Trump would care more about symbolic shows of patriotism and manufactured jingoistic outrage than millions of brown people without electricity or water, because Trump’s patriotism is — and always has been — about empowering white people.
Nearly every “patriotic” impulse Trump has ever had has been about racism and nativism.
For starters, “Make America Great Again” was one of the biggest dog-whistles in our country’s history. Remember when crime was way lower than it is now? Well, no, you probably don’t, because it’s lower now than at any time since the early ‘60s, but by lying about this statistic over and over again and never correcting himself, Trump convinced low-information white voters that “those people” were on a killing rampage.
The wall? His travel ban? He wants to keep his beloved America safe … by keeping brown people out. If you’re darker than #130 on the Pantone color chart, don’t even think about getting in.
Even his decision to run for president — which for most people is a consummate act of patriotism — was largely a repudiation of a two-term African-American president who had the temerity to serve his country with grace and dignity.
Trump makes a show of defending our country’s honor, but hugging the flag at a campaign rally can never make up for embracing Vladimir Putin, neo-Nazis, and the KKK.
Trump openly celebrates defeated traitors to our republic and defends the ideological descendants of genocidal foreign enemies. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more outrageous example of disrespect to our country than that, but Trump thinks it’s fine because they’re vigorously standing up for his one true nation — the white race.
After Charlottesville, Trump tipped his hand — and then did so again just days later — but that was more than a month ago now, so a lot of people have moved on to other outrages.
But that moment forever defined this president. He showed then that he cares more about dividing our country than defending us against its true enemies.
Charlottesville needs to remain a rallying cry until this shameful pretender is forced out of office. We can’t forget who the real traitor is, no matter how much he tries to distract us.