This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Small gesture, big moment. Pretty electrifying to see the over 100 NFL players, along with a number of coaches and owners, fight for their rights Sunday by taking a knee, sitting down, locking arms, raising fists or just not showing up during the National Anthem, that oh-so-fraught but often empty symbol of democracy. It even happened in baseball, in volleyball, on the street. All those guys, mostly black but with white support, were saying no - to our racist Dolt-In-Chief, to his divisive rhetoric, to his ugly claim that while Nazis are fine people, an American who exercises his First Amendment rights to challenge this country's systemic racism and egregious police brutality is a "son of a bitch."
Sounding like an aggrieved plantation owner whose house slaves are getting uppity, Trump trash-talked athletes for being ungrateful and proclaimed their peaceful protests showed "total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for." Nope. Actually, their protests were "pledges of allegiance" to what this country is supposed to stand for, but too often doesn't. They were rejections of the hollow, ugly nationalism of "a small man with a fetish for the symbols of democracy and a bottomless hostility for the actual practice of it." They were lessons in healing, in integrity, in constructive action, in "unity, justice, and even manhood." And they were a too-polite way of telling a demagogue too stupid even to know how to choose his toxic battles, "Get that son-of-a-bitch out of our country."

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