An Act of Symbolic Racism

It is an American tradition that the winner of the Super Bowl is honored with a visit to the White House. But these are not normal times.

Like the petulant man-child he is, President Donald Trump cancelled the 2018 NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles’ visit to the White House.

On Twitter, Trump announced it this way:

The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!

Trump was angry that most of the Eagles team had declined the invitation because of his repeated insults towards black NFL players (and other athletes) who have chosen to take a knee during the national anthem in protest against police brutality and institutional racism. It would seem that the black and brown players of the Eagles do not like being called “sons of bitches” and being threatened with deportation if they are not suitably “patriotic” as judged by Trump. This is part of a larger pattern of behavior where Trump and his inner circle have shown disdain and rage toward black people they believe are “uppity” and “do not know their place.

But the more significant insult and threat to both the Eagles players, specifically, and American democracy, more generally, was Trump’s official statement, released on Monday.

The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.

The context for this fusillade is a perilous and almost unprecedented moment in the country’s…

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