Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Ronald Reagan, President Trump And The Philadelphia Pigeons

Thirty-four years ago, President Ronald Reagan stood on the very spot on the northern coast of France where Allied soldiers had stormed ashore to liberate Europe from the yoke of Nazi tyranny.

In 1944 free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in Nazi concentration camps and millions more cried out for liberation.

President Reagan asked why these men, who were hardly more than boys with “the deepest joys of life” before them, would “put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk their lives to take those cliffs.”

He noted, “…We know the answer.  It was faith, a belief; it was loyalty and love.”

During yesterday’s “Celebration of America” ceremony which replaced the celebration intended to recognize the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl victory, President Trump told those assembled on the White House lawn, “I want to take this opportunity to explain why young Americans stand for our National Anthem. Maybe it’s about time that we understood. We stand to honor our military and to honor our country and to remember the fallen heroes who never made it back home. We stand to show our love for our fellow citizens and our magnificent Constitution. We stand to pay tribute to the incredible Americans who came before us and the heroic sacrifices they made. America is a great nation—a community, a family. And America is our home, and we love our home. So, we stand together for freedom. We stand together for patriotism. And we proudly stand for our glorious nation under God.”

The New York Times’ Michael D. Shear wrote, ”President Trump doubled down on his war with the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday, hosting a short celebration without the team as his spokeswoman accused the Super Bowl Champions of turning their White House invitation into ‘a political stunt.’”

It was indeed a political stunt.  White Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defended the President’s decision to cancel the Super Bowl celebration declaring, "The Eagles were the ones that tried to change their commitment at the 11th hour and the President frankly thinks that the fans deserve better than that and therefore we changed the ceremony to be a focus on celebrating our great country. Look, if this wasn’t a political stunt by the Eagles’ franchise, then they wouldn’t have planned to attend the event and backed out at the last minute."

The Eagles, according to Sanders, tried to reschedule the event to a time when President Trump would be in Singapore negotiating the vital denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

There is a portion of Ronald Reagan’s speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of D-Day that, to my mind, connects President Trump’s staunch defense of disinviting the Eagles:

“You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought─or felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m., in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.”

The Eagles were the first to interject politics into this visit.  They abandoned the fans who wanted, just once more, to hail the heroes who outmatched New England and pretty boy Tom Brady to instead demonstrate their loathing of the President.

The Liberty Bell has been a unifying symbol for Americans.  Yesterday, it was silent.
Tyler Tines, a writer for SBNation and whose bio on Twitter says he’s “another black boy from the forgotten blocks of Norf Philly”, posited this screed:

To stand next to a figure like Trump on the South Lawn is to dishonor the very people, the unprivileged and oppressed, that athletes have traded their careers for. 


The point was to rebuke the protesting athlete’s efforts. The president wanted to unnecessarily gloat and put forth a mandated national thinking after singing to God and having him bless America. He wanted to tout his steady dismissal of the beautiful, black protest that has overtaken this land. Such a flaunt can only be seen as laughable.


The face of such pomposity deserves a righteous reaction — not commonplace answers. War has been declared here, and our basketball and football stars are being pitted against Americans, and in the middle there is a president, using the best of his policy and political wherewithal to attack their might.


The understanding must be that this will not end. The presidency will continue its attack on the soul of the black athlete. Trump will always attack black athletes because they pose a threat to his form of white power. To strike back, to scold men he believes to be uppity and selfish, is to reassure his base.

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