Trump Wins When The NFL Takes A Knee

Scott Greer Contributor
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The biggest message to come out of President Trump’s Friday rally in Alabama had nothing to do with its intended purpose of helping out Sen. Luther Strange.

The president urging NFL owners to “get that son of a bitch off the field right now” if any of their players take a knee during the national anthem immediately inflamed one of the biggest battles in America’s culture war.

Ever since then-San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee when the anthem played last season, Americans have argued fiercely on the merits of this particular brand of protest.

Conservatives have seen it as outrageous disrespect for the troops and the nation itself. Liberals and ESPN have portrayed it as a courageous act of defiance against racism and police brutality.

The debate hasn’t gone away this season, with more players participating in the protest while Kaepernick remains unemployed.

Trump has spent most of the weekend doubling down on his comments, as well as bringing the NBA into the matter, in the face of liberal outrage. The president’s opinion brought forth accusations that he was trying to take away the constitutional rights of Americans and that his sentiment was racist by nature.

In response to the president attacks, dozens of NFL players publicly criticized the president and joined in the anthem protests on Sunday. As one example, multiple players from both the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars took the knee while the anthem played during their game in London. Curiously, they all stood for “God Save the Queen.”

Several commentators, primarily from the Left, saw more players joining the protest as a major defeat for the president, but they’re off the mark. Folks like New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait think that Trump has turned the kneel into a free speech issue, which is going to naturally earn the sympathy of average Americans.

In reality, Trump has taken the side of the flag and provoked multi-millionaire athletes into opposing patriotism. When several players for the New England Patriots took a knee during the anthem on Sunday, their own fans booed them. So do fans of the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins when members of those respective teams knelt. (RELATED: Football Fans Boo Players Protesting National Anthem)

There are hardly two more liberal, anti-Trump areas in America than the Boston and D.C. metropolitan areas. Yet even football fans who live there can’t stand protests against the anthem.

Rather than earning sympathy for free speech, more players joining in the protest is more likely to alienate NFL fans from the game. Polling last year showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans thought that politics should be kept off the field. The number one reason for declining NFL ratings was due to national anthem protests, according to ESPN, of all places.

Hardcore Patriots fans booing their own team is not a good sign that the NFL is going to come out on top in its war with the president.

Trump’s involvement in the debate over national anthem protests shows him once again stepping into his kind of cultural war. No longer tied to religious or moral concerns, Trump’s forays into the culture war typically revolve around questions of national identity and pit middle Americans against various elites.

During his presidential campaign, Trump’s hardline views on immigration and the Muslim ban earned him unprecedented scorn from the media and political elites, but also support and votes from Republican voters. More recently, Trump faced a barrage of anger over his comments on the violence in Charlottesville, Va. where he blamed “both sides” and issued his support for Confederate statues. (RELATED: Trump’s Culture War)

Those statements earned him extreme opprobrium from political leaders in both parties, nearly all of Hollywood and the establishment media. Yet, polling showed a majority of Americans agreed with his comments, especially in regards to the statues. (RELATED: Poll: Clear Majority Want To Keep Confederate Statues)

In the fight over kneeling, Trump is facing off against out-of-touch athletes who appear to be opposing the flag and the troops. ESPN and most political pundits may think he is a dummy for engaging in this fight, but if NFL continues to lose fans over it, Trump will come out as the victor.

There is the other issue of whether the President of the United States should even be involving himself in such a matter, regardless of whether it will be to his advantage or not. In years past, the answer would have been a “no” to the question of whether it was presidential behavior.

But we increasingly expect our president to take sides in these cultural battles. Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama frequently weighed in on such topics as the name of the Redskins and Kaepernick taking a knee, albeit in a much more subdued manner.

Trump is embracing his status as an Oval Office cultural warrior to a much greater degree than Obama, for some good reason. His legislative agenda is almost entirely stalled, and he has little to show in terms of accomplishments for his base. In fact, the only thing he might accomplish legislatively this year is giving millions of illegal aliens legal status in exchange for nothing.

Fighting in the culture war on behalf of his base is the one area where Trump can do as he pleases. He doesn’t have to go through Congress to reduce the ratings of the NFL, he just needs a few tweets to do so.

At the same time, the culture is getting weaponized at unimaginable level against the president and his supporters by elites. Every awards show now resembles a Resistance rally where each speaker makes sure to bash Trump and red state America. Late night talk shows act more as venting chambers for liberal resentment than light-hearted comedy. A large number of celebrities dedicate their social media accounts almost entirely to politics and hating on Trump.

Last week saw a new height for our new, politicized culture. A bunch of Hollywood A-listers such as Morgan Freeman and Rob Reiner got together to promote an initiative to make the public believe Russia hacked the election and we’re at war with Vladimir Putin. (RELATED: Hollywood Liberals Team Up With Iraq War Hawks To ‘Protect Democracy’ Against Russia)

The GOP’s latest attempt to repeal Obamacare found its greatest foe not among the Democrats, but with late night host Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel spent most of his opening monologues this week attacking Republicans for their bill and regurgitating talking points given to him by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. (RELATED: Chuck Schumer Coached Jimmy Kimmel Behind The Scenes On How To Oppose Obamacare Repeal)

The comic’s advocacy earned him plaudits from the media and he was able to get the message of the bill’s opponents out to the general public. It’s possible that the cultural elites’ intense rejection of the latest Obamacare repeal encouraged Arizona Sen. John McCain to say he would vote against it.

With the cultural elite declaring total war on Trump and his agenda thwarted in part by their efforts, Trump may have no other choice than to spend his term fighting various battles of the culture war.

His voters would probably prefer that option to a legislative agenda comprised entirely of amnesty for illegals and tax cuts for billionaires.



Follow Scott on Twitter and buy his new book, “No Campus for White Men.”