President Donald Trump is in another battle that is impossible to win. This time it is American athletes again, athletes who are among the most popular in the United States and certainly more popular than the president.
Some of the black players knelt on one foot during the U.S. national anthem, protesting the mistreatment of blacks and demanding real equality. The right of the American citizen to express his or her opinion is guaranteed by the Constitution and its amendments, as long as it is nonviolent, and that is what the black players did.
President Trump said in a tweet that “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL or other leagues, he or she [there are no female players] should not be allowed to disrespect…” (the tweet ended there because of the number of characters) and Trump completed the thought in a subsequent tweet: “our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
The president said in another tweet, “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team, Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” The best response to Trump came from LeBron James, a player for the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, who said, “U bum [Stephen Curry] already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
The National Football League, basketball stars, team owners, leaders and managers have all responded to Trump and his comments. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement condemning the president’s position that Trump was being divisive. Trump replied in a tweet that Goodell issued a statement attempting to justify the players’ position, and called upon him to ask them to stand for the flag.
I have known the United States since the 1970s. I lived in its capital, Washington, D.C., in the 80s and I went to Georgetown University. I supported the local team, the Redskins, which won the championship in Washington. I think I know American politics and American society, and I insist that the players are more popular than any politician, especially a politician like Trump. I read a lot of the responses to Trump, and I chose what could be published:
• “It is shameful that the president of the United States describes the players as “sons of bitches.”
• “Trump decided to withdraw the invitation from Golden State Warriors before they announced that they reject his invitation to visit the White House.”
• A basketball team in North Carolina which won this year’s championship announced that it will not visit the White House.
• “The idea of [Donald Trump] … suggesting firing me from football, confirms that he thinks that it’s all I can do as a Black man,” said Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers player.
• “If anyone ever tells you that you cannot come to D.C., tell them Mayor Bowser invited you,” said Washington Mayor Muriel E. Bowser.
It may seem wrong to the Arab reader that an athlete facilitates Trump’s political blunders, except that it’s not like that in countries that love sports and athletes. Trump apparently does not know what a slider he put himself in. He was in Alabama speaking to a predominantly white crowd, and he said, “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 listeners in Alabama, most of whom were white, applauded Trump and welcomed his words. Alabama, however, does not represent the entire United States with its right-wing politics, and blacks are an unaccountable minority. Trump will pay for his ignorance of etiquette for the sports stars in his country. He is a blazing meteor on a downward trajectory, and they are the stars.