A crisis, a showdown and taking a knee

Last week there were three big news stories capturing people’s attention, two of which we need to pay attention to, the other worth following only if you’re entertained by all those trumptweets.

When President Trump tweeted his vitriol about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem, he agitated an issue that’s not nearly as important as the escalation of tensions with North Korea and the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.

The immediate crisis was and is Puerto Rico, hit twice by hurricanes of historic proportions. The crisis was made obvious when San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, begged the Trump administration, and the world for that matter, for help. She pleaded for a cutting of the red tape, so supplies and assistance can get to the people who desperately need them. Listen to her for a couple of minutes and you’ll get a sense of the frustration these islanders are feeling about the federal government’s wholly inadequate response.

So how does Trump respond? In his usual way, of course, lashing out at those who criticize him, even if they are victims of some greater concern, such as getting hit by two epic hurricanes in a span of two weeks. We have a spoiled brat in the White House, one who would rather pick a fight with a critic then listen to what his constituents are trying to tell him. Yep, a spoiled brat.

Puerto Rico is Trump’s Katrina, many are already saying, but it seems he has bigger problems than that. His war of words with North Korea has far greater implications, especially if a slip of a bomb occurs. Can you say World War III?

I take solace, however, in the fact that the adolescent behavior, though deeply alarming, found in the rhetoric of Trump and Kim Jong-un has been going on a while now, so maybe they’re both just mouthing off. Of course, the North Koreans keep launching their test rockets, and Trump keeps drawing his line in the sand, but are either of them really crazy enough to actually launch a military offensive? Surely they know, and they have people around them who know, that to start a war would have devastating effects—on the world, not just the Korean Peninsula.

Say a prayer for the world as we know it, because that’s what is at stake here.

Meanwhile, Trump must also be feeling immense pressure from the investigations into Russia and its interference with the 2016 election. All the more reason to divert the public’s attention away from his real problems, I suppose.

So he weighs in on the NFL and its anthem protesters, to which I say with considerable passion: let ‘em kneel! And, as editor Bob Trapp at the Rio Grande Sun said so well in an editorial last week, listen to their message. African Americans and other minorities are being killed by cops, often unjustly—hey, we’ve all seen the videos—and such injustices should concern all fair-minded Americans, conservative and liberal and everyone in between.

Nevertheless, with the encouragement of a race-baiting president, too many Americans are taking offense to the method of their protest while ignoring the message they seek to convey.

When Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones kneeled for the national anthem with his entire team, I finally, after years of hating on them, became a fan of “America’s Team.” I suppose people read their collective action in different ways, but for me, it was a positive statement of unity, and defiance, that we don’t see very often these days. It was an encouraging sign; even in this divisive times black and white players and coaches, and even a billionaire owner, can come together as one.

Trump didn’t create our divisions but he sure has picked at the wounds. He’s as un-presidential as any president I’ve ever seen, and anyone who doesn’t see that has blinders on—or prefers anarchy or tyranny over a working democratic republic.

I’d love to see Trump’s tweets become irrelevant to our national debates, but that won’t happen because, well, he’s the president.

For the time being, at least. See the Russian investigation for further developments, if a catastrophe doesn’t hit first.

Tom McDonald is founder and editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. He can be reached at tmcdonald@gazettemediaservices.com.