North Korea threatens nuclear war, Iran is testing missiles, hurricanes have destroyed parts of the U.S. and the President of the United States seems more concerned with getting athletes fired or disinviting them to the White House. When he called a football player an SOB he set off a firestorm of controiversy.
In defense of his actions, the President’s surrogates contend that his anger is directed at those athletes who refuse to stand for the National Anthem, it is about respect for the American flag. I think they are right, respect for the flag is an issue but it is Trump who is guilty of disrespect not a football player. If Trump ever took the time to read (the Constitution would be a good start) he would know that when James Madison wrote the bill of rights and in particular the first amendment, he was trying to prevent exactly the type of behavior displayed by the President. Singling people out and demanding they be fired has a special “chilling” effect on our right to express ourselves. Coming from anyone else the demand to fire a player likely would be offensive but relatively harmless. It is different, though, when the President of the United States says it because he can do something about it. When James Madison penned the first amendment he did so for several reasons and this situation is one of them. Trump may not have taken statutory or executive action to stifle free expression, but by calling for employment termination because of an opinion, he has “chilled” the guarantee. Madison wanted to be sure that no one should withhold their opinion due to fear of government reprisal. For the President to call for the firing of an employee creates just the fear Madison wanted to avoid and could be reason enough for other citizens to be afraid to speak out.
Do not be fooled by the “Respect for the flag” red herring. Do not be fooled by this phony appeal to patriotism. This is a very thinly veiled attack on the first amendment and it is not the first time either he or someone in his administration has done so. When Henry Ford created the “Model T” car in 1909 he said, “You can have any color Ford you want as long as it’s black.”
President Trump has paraphrased and perverted the Ford expression so that this is the message Americans receive from him. “You can say or do whatever you want as long as you are in agreement with me.” I do not make that accusation lightly. Trump has a long record of doing everything he can to not only stifle free expression but to kill it.
On more than 70 occasions he has threatened free expression. In particular he has singled out the news media for not only daily but sometimes twice and thrice daily tweets that are highly critical of their coverage of his administration. He’s even gone so far as to say, “The news media are the enemy of the American people.” That is a declaration of war and he has admitted that, too. His attacks on the media, on free expression, on religion, on protests and demands for the government to respond to grievances are an almost daily occurrence. Each of them is in violation of Madison’s reason for writing the first amendment. Almost every day Trump makes some mention of “Fake news” in his never-ending attempt to discredit any report that is even remotely critical of his words or actions. Want other examples of his assault on the First Amendment?
- He has publicly called for punishing anyone who burns the American flag by “perhaps” jailing them — or even stripping them of citizenship (that is blatantly illegal).
- In several instances he has called for a complete ban on Muslim immigration a move certainly in conflict with the first amendment guarantee of religious freedom.
- He’s promised several times that he intends to, “open up” libel laws to make it easier for him to sue news organizations (SCOTUS has ruled several times that the public has a right to criticize the people who govern them, so the least protection from libel or slander (defamation) is given to public officials. When officials are accused of something that involves their behavior in office, they have to prove that not only was a story wrong and injurious but also that the accused acted with “actual malice” and while it has been done, successful suits of this nature are very rare http://tinyurl.com/y9wcc7v8 ).
- He has attempted to stop the publication of stories in the media (prior restraint is illegal)
He and his people would like you to believe that his words are no more threatening than the professional sports team’s rules that limit the way players must act or dress. And again the President is wrong. Employers are not covered by the first amendment, it was written to prevent the GOVERNMENT from restricting free expression. Trump demanding someone be fired is a very serious attack on the intent of James Madison and don’t let that pitchman huckster who now occupies the White House tell you otherwise. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
While I’m at it let me address another issue – decorum. This behavior of getting into insult contests with people is unbecoming of a President. It is juvenile behavior that any other President would ignore. They would not stoop so low as to make such comments never mind using the same language as Trump did. His profane language is unbecoming of his position and indicates his vocabulary is as tiny as are his hands.
For the President of the United States to call a private citizen an SOB is shameful, petty and reveals a man who has no idea what the term means because now he has offended many American mothers, too. President Trump is an unsophisticated, unrefined, crude huckster and he chose to be that way. He doesn’t like to read, he doesn’t like to learn. His entire history revolves around the exercise of power, of manipulating others to achieve his ends. He would like you to believe that he is so important that everything ever discussed in any forum by any yperson is about him. The fact is most of us have a lot of important issues to face every day of our lives and he isn’t even on the list.
The bottom line is that President Trump has no sense of propriety, dignity or of how one should act as the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. He is a flim-flam man who would sell the country to the highest bidder if given the chance. Don’t be taken in by his theatrics it’s all a show, a part of being a bully. Unfortunately, as with North Korea, his bluster can also be very dangerous.
And – from where I sit, that’s the truth.