Patriotism is no defense for Trump’s attacks on black athletes

Patriotism is no defense for Trump’s attacks on black athletes
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Congress should censure President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE for referring to African-American players in vulgar language in a public speech. Any legislator who fails to support such a measure is giving support to bigotry.

Historians will rank his decision to go after the most untouchable person in the country — Stephen Curry — as one of the biggest political mistakes in American history, until he makes another one by continuing to antagonize every African-American athlete in the nation.

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Since Juan Garrido, a black conquistador from Spain, arrived on the Florida shore in 1508, there has been a debate in African-American circle about the relative merits of accommodation or resistance to the various forms of white racism.

 

The ability to choose which method in real time is a testament to the endurance of Africans in this country.

However, Trump ended that debate for all time.

The son of an experienced player, Curry had the adroitness to become a popular figure transcending racial boundaries with an attractive family. Winning two NBA championships in the past three years lifted him from obscurity with genuine personality, which has made him a darling of advertisers.

On the anniversary of the day that President Abraham Lincoln issued the provisional Emancipation Proclamation, while the Congressional Black Caucus was in the midst of its annual legislative weekend, a day after meeting with African heads of state, Trump would play the race card to attempt to help a Republican Senate candidate.

Curry, like similarly commercially successful Michael Jordan, had been considered one to avoid controversy despite constant media scrutiny.

When Trump went after him with viciousness, it meant Curry was subject to the same vitriol directed at former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

As one might expect, it opened the door to players who now no longer had to make the calculus of remaining quiet.

In one fell swoop, the combined attack on Curry and the cursing at NFL players who protested achieved a unity not seen since the fabled meeting of black athletes in 1966 in support of Muhammad Ali.

It now makes Trump completely radioactive for any entity that is seen to support him. After Charlottesville, leading CEOs were forced to walk away. But, it could get worse.

We can count on Trump to continue to fan these flames, causing national heroes to put their full energy towards taking steps to stop his brand of hate.

Most of them did not want this battle. But warriors don't back away from a fight.

We need to address the real meaning of patriotism. The protests of Kaepernick and others are no different than the sit-ins of the 1960s or the campus protests that spotlighted apartheid. In the 1960s, Maj. Gen. Tony Jackson, (RET, USMC), was head of the black athletes at San Jose State. His ancestor had been the wagon train driver for Brigham Young across the desert and his mother and grandmother were still practicing Mormons. But Jackson would lead a boycott of San Jose State's football team against Brigham Young University because of the church's racial policies.

He would then join the Marine Corps and spend 30 years as an officer. There is no cause to say that protesting is not patriotic. In fact, it is the ultimate patriotism to stand up for the values of freedom and justice when it is not convenient.

Athletes need only look at the cases of tennis star James Blake, basketball player Thabo Sefolosha and most recently, Seattle Seahawk Michael Bennett to know that fortune and fame does not immunize them from police brutality.

Now, every black athlete has learned that lesson.

John William Templeton is co-founder of National Black Business Month and author of “Come This Far By Faith: African-Americans 1980-2020.”