For some time now there has been a great deal of controversy in the National Football League (NFL) over players taking a knee during the National Anthem. Started by Colin Kapernick in protest of the many of African Americans that were and are being killed by police officers, it is a form of protest that has gain a lot of traction and has since gain national attention thanks to the twitter rants of our so called President, Mr. Trump. Trump has even gone so far as to suggest that any NFL player who takes a knee should be fired. Unfortunately, this idea has also gained some traction.
There has been talk among the members of the NFL of actually making it a rule that all players must stand during the National Anthem, or else be fired. This is in blatant disregard of the player’s 1st Amendment rights to peaceful protest and it shows just how far people are willing to go to enforce their own ideals on people and to ignore the racist and dehumanizing treatment that African Americans and other people of color face in this country. Here’s the thing, the reason why players are taking a knee is to protest the treatment of African Americans in this country, not to disrespect the flag, or the troops, or what it is supposed symbolizes, but many people want to draw attention away from the real issue and make a big fiasco out of the actual act, so no one will pay attention to the real issue. The people who are angry at the players, like Trump is, are more concerned with a piece of cloth then with the lives of actual human beings.
There is nothing special about this piece of fabric. The patriotism, values, and freedoms it represents are not magically imbued into it nor does it go away if it gets disrespected. It is funny how so many people get so angry and lose their minds over a piece of cloth and their own self-absorbed beliefs, but black children and adults can get systematically murdered, abused, and discriminated against but they don’t bat an eye. Instead, they rather hyper fixate on the players taking a knee and impose a rule of forced patriotism. Except, it is not patriotism. When patriotism is forced and you take away the rights of the people to protest, it is not patriotism, that is called fascism.
In yet more frightening news from Trump, he threaten to revoke the National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC) broadcast license. NBC recently released a report that claimed that Trump wanted to increase the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal “tenfold” back in July. Trump has since released several Tweets that called this fake news and threaten to revoke the company’s broadcasting license. There are a lot of issues with this and, when you think about it, it is actually kind of terrifying.
The best case scenario is that Trump is once again throwing a tantrum and blowing a bunch of smoke like he always does whenever anyone criticizes him, something that happens a lot given all of the opportunities he provides to do just that. This means our president is an insecure man who is incapable of behaving like a rational adult and instead waves around a proverbial gun at whoever displeases him. That is a disaster waiting to happen and vaguely reminisce of a baby playing with hand grenades.
The worst case scenario (one that seems all too likely) is that Trump is very much entertaining and considering the idea of abusing his presidential powers to censor whoever he likes, whoever speaks against him or his government. This is dictatorship, this is fascism, this is terrifying. When there are so many other important issues to be concerned with, what does it say about our president when he is focusing his attention on a news broadcasting company that said something he did not like? Why is it that anytime any public group criticize (and only when they criticize) Trump, he calls it “fake news”? This is not a man with the best interests of the people in mind, this is a power-hungry dictator waiting to devastate our country. What if NBC is just the start of his attempts to destroy freedom of speech and the freedom to criticize the government? There is nothing solid yet, no direct action has been taken, but this does not bode well for our country or the next four years.
It’s been no secret that one of Donald Trump’s issues has been his frequent conflict with the press. If a report is brought to his attention that criticizes him or disagrees with his viewpoints, then he has been known to call it fake news or suppress it if it is from a federal source. For example, Trump has placed a gag order on the EPA and the USDA, effectively silencing them (1). This is extremely dangerous and should be cause for a great deal of alarm.
What Trump is doing is blatantly interfering with 1st amendment rights and the freedom of speech. The purpose of a gag order is to keep certain government agencies from revealing sensitive information that could potentially cause America to suffer in terms of bodily harm. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture do not have that sort of information, not when they are releasing reports on things like global climate change and global warming.
However, the reports that have been released, like the ones that say global climate change is real and that we should do something about it, directly go against Trump’s agenda and his claim that “global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese.” Trump doesn’t like it and he doesn’t want to hear it, so he abuses his power to restrict the voices of the EPA and the USDA. How long before he begins to do the same to news organizations he doesn’t like and calls “fake news”? Trump has already shown that he does not mind abusing his power to get what he wants or twisting things around to suit his needs. The gag orders he has placed on these federal agencies may only be the beginning, and he may soon go after any organization (or anyone) who disagrees with him. These are the first steps towards a dictatorship.