Authoritarians, Plutocrats and the Fight for Racial Justice

Photo by Tyler Merbler | CC BY 2.0

On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump routinely lashed out at protesters brazen enough to disrupt his choreographed rallies. In Birmingham, Alabama, he shouted, “Get him out of here. Throw him out!” The next day he added, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.” In Burlington, Vermont, Trump ordered his security personnel to “Throw them out into the cold…Don’t give them their coats. No coats! Confiscate their coats.” In Las Vegas, Nevada, he told the crowd, “I’d like to punch him in the face” and reminisced about earlier days when demonstrators would be “carried out on stretchers.”

Trump’s belligerent stance toward dissent provides context for the National Football League’s decision last week: players on the field will now be required to stand during the national anthem. In adopting this restrictive policy, billionaire owners of professional sports franchises have chosen to serve as Trump’s newest security guards, responsible for keeping all reminders of today’s racial injustice and police brutality as far from the fifty-yard-line as possible. Not surprisingly, Trump was quick to publicly endorse the change: “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

Such pronouncements from the most powerful person in the world are jaw-dropping. Yet Trump’s strongman antics haven’t actually…

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