Our Chaos President has been at it again; he can’t seem to go 24 hours– or at least a news cycle– without attacking some person or institution in a way that causes dissention and outrage. That’s his goal, obviously– we’ve seen this pattern when things are going poorly in his government. The pattern is particularly strong when the GOP healthcare agenda, embodied in the zombie-like Repeal and Replace bills, threatens to collapse yet again. Divisive declarations and insults, his stock-in-trade, come flying out of the White House (where is his Chief of Staff?) whenever public approval of Trump policies hits a low point– whenever he needs a jolt of energy from his unshakeable “base,” or something to distract everyone else with.
With a firm NO from Senators McCain and Paul, and Sen. Collins leaning against it (but bribes to Maine and Alaska apparently are still negotiable), and even Sen. Cruz saying he’s not convinced about the bill, the rushed vote desired by the GOP looks likely to be another embarrassing defeat for the party. Meanwhile, the usual crises– you know the ones: natural disasters, climate change, opioid addiction, threats of terrorism and nuclear war, etc.– continue to swirl about, without a “win” in sight.
What better time, then, for POTUS to condemn NFL players– especially the one who started it all, Colin Kaepernick– for taking a knee during the national anthem? There’s no mention, of course, that this is a peaceful protest against racial inequality and police brutality toward African-Americans. Ignoring history as usual (half a century ago, you recall, a peaceful march from Selma, Alabama met with a more violent reaction, but the attitude hasn’t changed), taking a knee is seen purely as an act of disrespect for “our” nation that should be punished, period. And Charlottesville proved that the more divisive Trump’s statements, the more successful the diversion. The place and the timing (at a rally in Alabama) was cynical but perfect: 1-2 days before NFL’s football Sunday, maximizing the predictable response from players. The next day, over 250 athletes, trainers and team owners joined together in an impressive, moving show of solidarity.
It reminded me of the 1960 movie “Spartacus,” in which a Roman general demands that the defeated slave rebels turn over their leader. Give me Spartacus, the general says, and I will let everyone else go. One by one– beginning with Kirk Douglas himself– the rebels declare, “I am Spartacus,” resulting in the crucifixion of all. Fortunately, incursions on Constitutional rights under this Administration have not yet involved capital punishment!
Here’s an excerpt from Fourth World Nation, the second in the trilogy, which will be published in the coming month:
“That is impressive, Martin: the assassination of Ambassador Mauer, the co-ordination of demonstrations and sabotage, the recent bombing at City Hall. Your Gang of Three has certainly been a busy group.”
“Thank you! I appreciate that, truly,” Martin blushed, all of a sudden feeling quite jovial. “Ha! We do make an excellent team, even if I say so myself! It’s like that old saying: ‘Strength in numbers,’ am I right?”
At the door there came a soft knocking sound, unsure. The man frowned at the interruption, crossed the room in three strides, and opened the door just wide enough for Martin to see two guards and a badly bloodied prisoner standing in the corridor. After a brief exchange of agitated murmurs and a quick glance in the direction of the doctor, the man swung his full attention back to Martin, who was awaiting him with bated breath.
Quite typically, the Superintendent did not miss a beat. “‘Strength in numbers,’ you said? No, that’s not quite right, Martin,” Khalmed Salman corrected him: “What we say around these parts is ‘divided, they fall.’”