His tirade against rich, black American athletes may also strike a chord with many who voted for him.
US President Donald Trump’s Twitter assault against American football players, deriding them as “sons of bitches”, has erupted into a full-blown debate on patriotism versus freedom of dissent in America. No stranger to divisiveness, Mr Trump tweeted 15 times last weekend, leading to 200 players sitting, kneeling or raising fists as the Star-Spangled Banner played before Sunday’s games. NBA basketball players also got sucked in, leading to the conclusion that Mr Trump’s tirade was essentially racist, as these sports are played mainly by blacks at the highest level. Mr Trump stressed it was a matter of patriotism, but players see it as a way to demonstrate angst at police brutality and a criminal justice system so blatantly biased on racial differences, seen in so many recent cases of the shooting of blacks.
The right-wing populist wave that Mr Trump rode to power was always prone to confusing nationalism with patriotism. While not too many would think twice about standing up for the anthem why it becomes contentious is when it demands a daily pledge. Historically, playing anthems, particularly at sports events, became routine after World War I, when nationalism and patriotism were most emphasised. America’s First Amendment freedoms may lend a different perspective, but patriotism, with its overt salutes, forms a powerful emotional bond, which is why
Mr Trump may feel he’s on a winner. His tirade against rich, black American athletes may also strike a chord with many who voted for him. This has become a huge medium of conversation, and as we watch we can draw our own conclusions. How societies tend to get further riven by dissension over such issues should be a cause for worry though.