The Failure of Trump’s Assault on Colin Kaepernick

The president has inadvertently made Colin Kaepernick a martyr to millions of Americans.

To paraphrase the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, “white privilege” is a hard thing to describe, but I know it when I see it–and boy, did I see it in Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s remarks today about Donald Trump’s attack on blacklisted former NFL star Colin Kaepernick:

Mnuchin literally cannot comprehend the nature and significance of Kaepernick’s protest. It’s foreign to him, and to the President he so obsequiously serves.

It must twist Trump’s guts to see his pal Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, condemn his assault on Kaepernick. It must twist his guts to see so many NFL players stick up for Kaepernick today. It must twist his guts to know that he blew this one bigly.

Trump has made Colin Kaepernick a martyr to millions of Americans—Americans who will turn away in disgust from an organization that has treated the former San Francisco 49ers star with scorn for speaking his mind, Americans whose outrage towards a President who thinks Kaepernick should just shut up will only increase. Kaepernick has become this generation’s Muhammad Ali, an athlete in his prime who made a tremendous sacrifice in the name of his values. Even people who don’t like pro football now recognize Kaepernick as a hero.

I’ve mentioned before that Kaepernick is being treated “like a 1950s Hollywood screenwriter accused of Communist sympathies.” It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Trump actually called upon Congress to bring back the House Un-American Activities Committee, with an eye towards the political persecution of athletes and other celebrities Trump and his base view as “disloyal” to the country. Would House Republicans go for such an idea? Would you put it past them?

In his famous speech from the 1999 football film Any Given Sunday, Al Pacino declared:

We’re in hell right now, gentlemen, believe me. And, we can stay here, get the s— kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell one inch at a time.

By attacking Kaepernick, Trump has increased the motivation of those who oppose his amoral agenda. He has pumped more fuel into the engine of the Resistance. We are in hell thanks to Trump—but we will climb out of that hell. One inch at a time.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.