The Manhattan billionaire was asked about the Kaepernick controversy during a radio interview with KIRO’s Dori Monson ahead of a rally Trump is holding on Tuesday in Everett, Washington.
“I have followed it and I think it’s personally not a good thing, I think it’s a terrible thing,” Trump said. “And maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try. It won’t happen.”
Right in his wheelhouse. And good news for Kaepernick too, as he’s been out on a limb since he started protesting the national anthem last week. Trump slapping at him will win him some allies. “Kaepernick versus America” is a bad narrative for him, “Kaepernick versus Trump” is much better. As Jim Geraghty said:
Kaepernick’s gesture, refusing to stand for the national anthem, is not subtle, nuanced or conditional. By not standing, the quarterback is not saying I’m angry at that cop, or that police force, or that prosecutor’s decision. He’s saying, I’m angry at all of America. Make no mistake, Kaepernick indicts all of America over what troubles him.
Kaepernick seems to be misinterpreting what everyone else is doing when they stand for the national anthem. Does he think everyone else stands because they think America is perfect? Does he think holding his hand over his heart represents a de facto approval of police brutality? Does he think all of his teammates and coaches and everyone else standing chooses to turn a blind eye to these problems?
I made a similar point this weekend. If you’re going to indict the entire country in how you choose to protest, whether you get a semi-respectful hearing depends a lot on how far you’ve gone to prove your loyalty to it. A veteran choosing not to stand for the anthem in protest would give observers pause. The back-up quarterback making $20 million a year refusing to stand? Not so much pause. This isn’t even Ali risking prison and the loss of his livelihood during his prime years to follow his conscience. This is a guy who’s already on the cusp of being cut because his performance declined last year and who then lost a ton of muscle mass in the offseason due to injury. He would have been better off standing for the anthem while wearing one of those goofy “Stay Woke” t-shirts to make his point.
Here’s video of what he said yesterday about the controversy. A criticism thrown at him over the weekend is that he’s showing disrespect to the military that fought and died for his freedom to protest. They do fight for freedom, Kaepernick acknowledges — for all Americans, including black Americans who are being treated unfairly by the police. Doesn’t that suppression of their freedom disrespect the military too? (Another possible retort: If the military fought for his right to protest, how is it disrespectful when he exercises that right? And why equate the national anthem with the military? The country is bigger than its armed forces.) One thing worth noting about Kaepernick as possibly relevant to his drift towards greater racial consciousness is that he’s biracial by birth and his adoptive parents are white, which I’ll bet made him a target for occasional racist cracks from people of both races growing up. In particular, I’ll bet he’s been accused before of not being “black enough.” The only election Barack Obama ever lost was when he ran for Congress in a heavily black district in Chicago 16 years ago and got crushed by former Black Panther Bobby Rush in a three-way primary, with both Rush and the other candidate in the race questioning the biracial Obama’s authenticity. Rush framed his criticism in terms of education, insisting that his district didn’t need an outsider with a fancy eastern degree from Harvard. The other candidate was more explicit, once claiming that Obama was viewed in their community as “the white man in blackface.” Kaepernick may have had similar experiences, in which case his politics may be not just a reaction to prejudice he’s felt from whites and outrage at police abuses but also a way to demonstrate his black authenticity by showing he’s willing to go further in protesting injustice than most other black athletes are. That’s just a theory, but I think what’s going on with him is more complicated than “he’s pissed that he’s a sucky QB now and misses the attention.”