I had a long drive last night and listened to a lot of CNN and MSNBC. The moralizing quotient on the NFL fracas was off the charts. A few points were made repeatedly:
One, Trump insulted the mothers of kneeling players by calling the players SOBs. That language is obviously unpresidential, but I’ve called lots of people SOBs over the years and always thought I was insulting them, not their mothers. Likewise, when we call someone a “bastard” we usually aren’t making a comment about the literal circumstances of his birth.
Two, the kneeling protests aren’t about the flag. This would be a little like watching Antifa goons burn the flag and then arguing that their act wasn’t really about the flag, but about our fascistic, white supremacist system. The kneelers are disrespecting the flag to make a political point, but they are still disrespecting the flag.
Three, Trump may say his motives aren’t racial, but this can’t be true because the protesters are black men making a point about race in this country. This argument, though, concedes that it is the kneelers who are injecting race into what had previously been an uncontroversial civic ritual, and makes it impossible for anyone to object without being accused of having racial motives.
This is how the contention over BLM plays out more broadly — BLM says, “Black lives matter”; critics counter, “No, actually, all lives matter”; and the Left attacks the critics for being obsessed with race and racially divisive.