Amid Tensions With North Korea, Trump Starts A Culture War

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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President Donald Trump attacked the National Football League Friday and basketball star Stephen Curry Saturday, and he is now warring with star athletes and not North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

“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!'” Trump said during a Friday rally in support of Alabama Sen. Luther Strange.

Trump went on to say that his supporters should leave the stadium if they see athletes kneeling during the national anthem. “I guarantee things will stop,” Trump said about the protests, which started in 2016 with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

A battle between the White House and the sports world has been brewing for a over a week. After ESPN host Jemele Hill tweeted that Trump is a “white supremacist,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make, and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN.”

However, Trump’s latest comments seem to have upped the ante, especially when paired with his Saturday tweet, “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

This came after a post-game Friday night news conference in which Curry said he doesn’t want to visit the White House. The visits are a tradition for champion sports athletes.

The insults against Trump from athletes soon piled up.

“U bum [Stephen Curry] already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite,” NBA star player LeBron James tweeted. “Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”

“It’s really sad man … our president is a a**hole,” Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy tweeted.

Former Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards also got involved and tweeted, “On Sunday, I hope every [NFL] player takes a knee in solidarity [with Kaepernick] against the white supremacist who squats in our White House.”

Instead of the focus being on Republican struggles to pass health care and tax reform or the growing threat of a nuclear North Korea, Trump is now facing off in a battle against black athletes, which liberal journalists are already framing as racist.

New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza tweeted, “Trump has now attacked Jemele Hil, Colin Kaepernick, & Stephen Curry. All have something in common but I can’t quite put my finger on it.”

While the Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg said this culture war is unwinnable.

“The President of the United States is now in a war with Stephen Curry and LeBron James. This is not a war Trump will win,” Goldberg wrote.

However, this is a battle former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has always craved and believed Trump would be victorious in.

“The Democrats,” Bannon said in an August interview, “The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

Correction: Kaepernick fist kneeled for the national anthem in 2016, not 2015.