Some protests of the government get you called “very fine people.” Others get you called a “son of a b----.” What’s the distinction? We ponder the ground rules of the new era.
So let’s see if we can get some of the new ground rules straight:
If you take a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” you are so disrespectful to the country that you are a “son of a b—-.”
But if you march through the streets with the Confederate battle flag, an actual symbol of secession, you might be “very fine people.”
Or this: If you raise a fist before a pro football game, you should be fired.
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But if you raise a torch as you goose-step around chanting “Jews will not replace us,” well, you’re maybe not someone to have over to dinner. But you’re also just out there harmlessly exercising your rights to free speech.
Do we have the new rules about right?
It’s all a little confusing. It’s almost as if some Americans are encouraged to express themselves, to protest, to inflame if their views are strongly-enough held. While others are told to sit down and shut up. Or rather, to stand up and shut up.
What explains the different treatment of the two groups? Racking brain here.
Perhaps Seattle Seahawks lineman Michael Bennett, rather than doing his black-power salute after he sacks the quarterback, should instead try lighting a tiki torch and sieg-heiling. Maybe that would go over better?
Seriously, there’s no greater symbolic snub of the American flag than waving around the Rebel flag. That goes beyond being disappointed in America — that’s saying you don’t even believe in America. At least this America.
That gets a presidential shrug and days of equivocating. While the football players get days of insults and calls for them to be fired
Oh right, the football players are rich. That must be it.
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country)…” tweeted the billionaire president, who wrote an entire book called “Crippled America” about how screwed up things are here.
Continuing on with the bewildering new protest rules: If you storm into town halls, shout down your elected representatives and even hang some of them in effigy, you might get a rousing tweet about your efforts.
“The Tea Party is filled with great Americans. Despite being mistreated by everyone, including @GOP, they will continue to fight on,” Trump tweeted back in 2013.
Fair enough. Protesting the actions of your government is American. So then why is Michael Bennett, who is also protesting the actions of his government, consigned to being a son of a b—- who should be fired?
Maybe for Bennett’s next quarterback sack dance he could try waving one of those liberty snake flags, with the words “don’t tread on me.” Probably wouldn’t work — seems there’s something different about NFL and NBA players speaking out. Can’t quite place our finger on what that difference might be. Anyone?
There’s more. After a Milo Yiannopoulos speech got canceled at Cal-Berkeley in February — not because the university censored the right-wing provocateur, but because protesters overwhelmed the venue — the president forcefully went to bat for free speech:
“If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”
Yet now he’s bashing a sports league senseless precisely because it isn’t squelching political speech (much of it occurring in publicly funded stadiums, by the way).
Oh well, our commander-in-chief doesn’t have time to spell out every little meaning and nuance for us — he’s got Puerto Rico to save.
Besides, we probably don’t need too many more clues from him to puzzle out the distinctions between a bring-back-the-Confederacy protest and an NFL or NBA protest, and why he of all people might take it a little easy on the former yet go hard, day after day, on the latter.
What could it be? Someday we’ll probably look back and realize the answer was right in front of our noses.