The Flying Wedge Issue

by Rich Lowry

A few more points about the NFL fracas:

I agree with Michael that the NFL is going to find itself in an uncomfortable spot now that it’s in the middle of a wedge issue. The league has to side with its players, many of whom now hate Trump, but the renewed protests aren’t going to do its image any favors.

Whenever there’s a controversy like this, some commentators on the left make slavery analogies. Jesse Jackson, for instance, thinks Trump is exhibiting a “slave-master-servant mentality.” This trope is absurd, of course. Standing for the national anthem is hardly an outrageous demand, and NFL players obviously aren’t like slaves — for starters, they get paid for their labor.

People who say that Trump is losing because there are more protests are getting the politics backward — Trump gains when there are more protests because it makes his opponents look more unreasonable.

Trump is a culture warrior, but he has reoriented the battlefield away from questions of sexual morality to the conflict between populism and elitism, and nationalism and cosmopolitanism. The Left vastly overestimates its strength on this new cultural battlefield.

I tend to think that Trump is right, as he said on Twitter today, that standing and linking arms is much better than kneeling. It’s kind of ridiculous, though, that the president of the United States is expressing opinions at this level of granularity about what NFL players are doing on the sidelines.

Finally, while I think Trump probably has the better of the politics here, it’s another step in his isolation. He’s not just alienated from the liberal media and Hollywood elites, like most Republican presidents, but also from corporate leaders and, now, a swath of the sports world.

 

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