The Corner

Politics & Policy

If Donald Trump Said Don’t Jump Off a F****** Bridge, Would You Do the Opposite?

I must rise to respectfully object to the pieces by David and Jay on kneeling. They argue that Trump’s crude exhortation to stand during the National Anthem makes the kneelers understandable (David) or sympathetic (Jay). As Jay argues, Trump’s riff changed everything. Kneeling to protest police brutality is a bad idea, but kneeling to give “a big middle finger,” as Jay puts it, to the president of the United States is just fine.

If your objection to kneeling is merely situational, I would think kneeling to address alleged systemic racism would be a more worthy cause than simply doing it to spite Trump. But put that aside, because I don’t think disrespecting the flag is warranted in either circumstance, or any foreseeable circumstances. I understand NFL players feel offended, but there are all sorts of ways to hit back at Trump and vindicate your free speech that don’t involve slighting the flag — they can mock and attack Trump on Twitter, call him a bum, hold press conferences, give interviews, kneel before the Anthem or after the Anthem, or after touchdowns, or really any time they want except during the Anthem.

What’s the limiting principle, by the way, on the do-the-opposite-of-Trump view? What if Trump said, “I hate those dirty anti-fa bastards who, if it were up to me, would be thrown into jail for burning the American flag?” Would we turn around and say burning the flag is a great way for leftists to stick it to the Man?

Jay quotes John Kelly at the end of his piece. I don’t like arguments from authority, but as Jay points out, Kelly has as much authority as anyone given his family’s sacrifices for this country. Here’s what he says about the National Anthem: “I believe every American, when the National Anthem is played, should cover their hearts and think about all the men and women who have been maimed and killed. Every American should stand up and think for three lousy minutes.”

Where I depart from my colleagues is that I don’t think there’s anything that anyone, even Donald Trump, could say that would make Kelly wrong about that.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

Most Popular

PC Culture

The New, New Anti-Semitism

The old anti-Semitism was mostly, but not exclusively, a tribal prejudice expressed in America up until the mid 20th century most intensely on the right. It manifested itself from the silk-stocking country club and corporation (“gentlemen’s agreement”) to the rawer regions of the Ku Klux Klan’s lunatic ... Read More
Immigration

The Left, the Wall, the Truth

Democrats and others on the left offer three reasons for their opposition to building a wall on America's southern border. 1. A wall is ineffective. 2. A wall is too expensive. 3. A wall is immoral. Each one is false, so false as to constitute lies. So, the only question is: Do Democrats and others on ... Read More