Salute the flag or else

Chris Cillizza itemizes the wrongs in Trump’s idiotic “statement” yesterday on why he was telling a football team that they can’t come to his our house.

2. Trump doesn’t own the White House. Trump seems to be treating 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue like one of his Trump properties. If only you had done things the way I wanted them done, then maybe you could be reclining in one of my 5-star hotels right now — or playing golf at one of my award-winning courses. That is how Trump thinks.

But it’s not his, and he’s not supposed to brandish it to punish people for dissent. He’s not supposed to punish people for dissent at all.

3. Trump’s definition of patriotism is very, very narrow. By the definition offered in his statement tonight, patriotism for Donald Trump is standing proudly for the National Anthem, with your hand on your heart. Doing anything else is disrespectful — not only to Trump but to the military and to the country as a whole.

Which underlines what a shallow trivial empty little mind he has. He can understand only show, not substance. Random arbitrary downright stupid shows of fake “patriotism” are all, and actually doing things that benefit the country is nothing.

4. Trump thinks patriotism must equal unwavering loyalty to his view of the National Anthem. If you take Trump at his word in the statement released Monday night, the only way that you can show love and appreciation for those who have fought and died for our country is to stand with your hand over your heart during the playing of the National Anthem. That’s it. That’s the only route.

It’s even cruder than that, because it’s stand with your hand over your heart during the playing of the National Anthem before a football game. It’s not all sports. He’s not out there hounding tennis players or swimmers or marathon runners to stand with hand over heart during the playing of the National Anthem; it’s specific to football, as if football were actually a branch of the military.

How did this ever become a thing in the first place? Football is a game, it’s not warfare. Football players are not the military. What is the perceived connection? Why is so much angry emphasis placed on Visible Patriotism At Football Games but not at other games?

Meanwhile, the real reason Trump suddenly told the Eagles to stay away is because not that many of them were planning to go anyway. He didn’t want to draw a small crowd.

Trump insisted that the Eagles “disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem,” an assertion that carries echoes of dissatisfaction with their failure to submit to his will as well as any anger over treatment of the flag. Of course, as The Post reports, no Eagles knelt in this manner, and the team privately conveyed to the White House that fewer players than expected would show up. Trump told the lie about kneeling Eagles to justify the cancellation in part because he anticipated low turnout, which he hates.

But let’s not let the true import of Trump’s action today get lost in the usual spectacle of Trumpian lying and megalomania. His true message is that African American dissenters protesting in the quest for racial equality — in a manner he claims to find offensive — have no place at a celebration of this country’s heritage over which he is presiding.

In his statement canceling today’s event, Trump claimed that the Eagles do not want to place “hand on heart, in honor of our great men and women of the military.” Instead, he said, he will preside over “a different type of ceremony” that will “honor our great country” and “loudly and proudly play the national anthem.”

In other words, whether any Eagles ever knelt or not, Trump’s explicitly stated justification for disinviting them is that they did kneel to protest the national anthem. That this is a lie is beside the point. The justification he is offering is itself a deliberate statement, and a reprehensible one. After all, what if some Eagles had knelt, as he claims? His argument is that in carrying out this act, they have disqualified themselves from attending a celebration of our national heritage at his White House.

It’s not a president’s job to extort particular arbitrary displays of patriotism from the citizens. What good is patriotism if it’s extorted anyway? Does he put a gun to Barron’s head to extort a loving goodnight? Does he wrench Melania’s arm to make her say how attractive he is? Does it not occur to him that coerced patriotism is not worth the astroturf it stands on?

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