Trump Turns to the ‘Southern Strategy’ Once Again to Attack NFL Players Taking a Knee During the National Anthem

If Donald Trump is not a white supremacist, his actions and words show a great deal of comfort with the values of white supremacy.

He did not want Blacks living in his buildings or handling his money. His comparison of the Washington monument to confederate monuments built to honor people who killed American soldiers for the right to own other human beings shows an ignorance of and an unwillingness to deal with the truth about America’s past and current history of racism.

His encouragement of police brutality and championing of unconstitutional stop and frisk policies are not race neutral.  

His initial refusal to rebuke white supremacists in Charlottesville was followed by blaming “both sides” for the violence while noting the “very fine people” among those who either carried Confederate and Nazi flags or had no problem marching with folks who did. David Duke and other white supremacists praised him. They understood exactly what Trump was saying and doing.

Saturday Trump told an overwhelmingly white crowd in Alabama that a Black athlete quietly demonstrating for racial justice during the national anthem is “a son of a bitch,” not a very fine person. He resorted to time tested racial code words:

“…but people like yourselves turn on the television and you see those people taking the knee…”

Translation: the ones protesting about racial injustice who were almost all Black. 

This framing relies on the “Southern Strategy,” used for decades to make coded appeals to racial bigotry. Republican campaign consultant Lee Atwater was taped explaining it this way in 1981:

"Now, ya’ll don’t quote me now…you start out in 1954 by saying “nigger, nigger, nigger.  By 1968 you can’t say nigger, that hurts you, it backfires so you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff…if it is getting that abstract and that coded we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other, you follow me?  Because obviously sitting around saying “we want to cut taxes, we want to cut this is much more abstract than even the busing thing and a hell of a lot more abstract than nigger, nigger.  So any way you look at it race is coming on the back burner."

Ronald Reagan’s first speech after his nomination for president was less than 10 miles from Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964.  Reagan told the overwhelmingly white crowd that he was in favor of states’ rights, and everyone listening knew what he was saying.  Trump simply used the Southern strategy playbook in Alabama.

He later tweeted:

If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect...

...our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!

It is no more a privilege to play in the NFL than it is to do any other job. Making millions in the NFL does not require you to stand, sit, or kneel to anyone’s politics.  

Yesterday, over 200 players knelt or sat for themselves. In Detroit and Nashville performers dropped to their knees after singing. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, and Seattle Seahawks were among teams that stayed in the locker room during the national anthem.

The protests weren’t confined to the NFL either.

Oakland Athletics rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first athlete to kneel in Major League Baseball on Saturday night.  He said:

“I love this country and I have family members, including my father, who bled for this country, and who continue to serve. This goes beyond the black and Hispanic communities because right now we have a racial divide that’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country saying it’s basically OK to treat people differently.”

Denver Broncos player Derek Wolfe said kneeling during the anthem was disrespectful and maybe the wrong platform.  He said America is the greatest country in the world and asked why protestors don’t leave if they don’t agree.  

Perhaps the best answer to Wolfe’s question came in 1939 from Mary Bethune, daughter of slaves who founded the first accredited Black college in America. She explained why Black soldiers fought and died for America:

We have fought for the democratic principles of equality under the law, equality of opportunity, equality at the ballot box, for the guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Yes, we have fought for America with all of her imperfections.  Not so much for what she is, but for what we know she can be.

Some have asked if these protests are good or bad politically for Democrats or Republicans.  It is a privilege to be able to engage in intellectual curiosity about speaking out against racism.  If you are a person of color in America and you remain silent, what you risk is the future of your children and grandchildren. Athletes in the past — Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Tommie Smith, John Carlos — risked their careers to speak out about racism. This weekend, DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, wrote:We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports.” 


View comments (81)
Read the Terms of Use


I am interested in ACLU comments on #ThatGuy from his position of power, from which he has already demonstrated his ability and willingness to adversely effect an enterprise's bottom line for personal reasons & retribution (e.g., Bezos/Amazon), encouraging Owner/Employers to Fire people who fail to stand for the Anthem or the Flag, e.g., because of their political positions (which run contrary to those of #ThatOne). Okay, if someone actually does that (blatantly), I'm just assuming the player could have a viable case in U.S. Courts against the owner. But must all wait for such an event? Is there no legal action that, say, the players' union (or ACLU on behalf of the players) could take against #ThatOne for using his position to blatantly and openly urge owners to violate their employees' civil rights?


If you niggers, including the nigger writing the story don't like this country then get out of it.


@nigga You racist asshole, why don't you leave? Do us all a favor, you piece of shit.


Here is a liberal making an account and actually typing out a racist comment.
We have seen almost ALL of these so called racist attacks on people and so called racist spray painted stories happen to come out to be fake and in so many of the cases where the people spray painted things like "KKK niggers now leave" was done by a black student on campus. So many of the racist spray painted events were done by blacks. The woman who went to police to say 3 white Trump supporters smeared feces (poo pooh/democrats) all over her face........ turns out she used her own feces and put it on herself, so uhh no, it wasn't a racist attack.
Like the post claiming "niggers leave if you don't like it" obviously written by a Democrap,


You're drawing conclusions based entirely on a subjective interpretation of these 'code' words. I don't buy it, I don't think our president is biased against any group of people, I think he considers all citizens of our country to be equal. I think his speeches more accurately reflect his views than your translation of 'code'. We believe what we want to believe.


"We believe what we want to believe." You are the perfect example of that.

40 year old Whi...

Have you been listening to the same man I have been? Because his statements are blatantly prejudice and clear reflect white supremacy views! If he's not intentionally making these statements then he is too stupid to be in a position of power spouting his hateful words.


Are you serious? Have you NOT been listening to the venom spewing from 45's tiny mouth?? How can you POSSIBLY not realize/decode exactly what he's saying?? My God, man! Wake up and smell the coffee!!!


How about this: The First Amendment entitles one to speak their mind without interference or punishment from the government. For a sitting president to call for firings and boycotts as a reaction to any protest is direct government interference in a person's First Amendment rights. Full stop.


I am listening to his words. I do hear what he has said. I think you hear them to with the hopes of hearing something you can twist. I am waiting to hear if what you are saying is true. I don't hear it. I hear your hatred. I hear his love for this country. Maybe to passionately but never the less there. I hear your hate for your country and it is passionate too.
In his speech of both sides did wrong....maybe you only want to hear one side but in a fight at a school both children are punished no matter who did worse damage. The antifa group through pee bottles at police and soldier's. This is a wrong and the worse was done by the horrible supremacy group. But....BOTH DID WRONG....
I could say so much more but you don't hear anything but what you want to hear.
But trump has no obligation to respect the NFL as Goodman said but He does have the obligation to Respect Our Anthem and Flag... and call on anyone as un-american whom do disrespect it...


Stay Informed