President Donald Trump has made his feelings quite clear about a number of things, in particular when it comes to “America First.” So, it should have come as little surprise to anyone when he spoke out about NFL players kneeling during the playing of the national anthem and the presentation of our flag.
He’s addressed the matter in speeches and in dozens of tweets.
According to USA Today, his first NFL kneeling tweet was this gem:
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….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
He also hit the NFL on its ratings decline, following the league’s support of the kneeling players. He made it clear he thought a reversal on that might help:
Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison. Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2018
Conservative artist Jon McNaughton, well-known for his symbolic political paintings, also created one about Trump and the NFL controversy. He shared some brief thoughts about “Respect the Flag” on Twitter:
My painting, "Respect the Flag."
I don't respect those who disrespect America.
The NFL better show America this next season who they support.
I support Trump and #MAGAhttps://t.co/lrt1pNWMsQ pic.twitter.com/xudm76G1Aw
— Jon McNaughton (@McNaughtonArt) July 20, 2018
The poignant painting shows an emotional President Trump, tenderly clutching a tattered, shredded American flag, as he gently wipes away the filth that is covering it. He is doing so while standing on a football field, in a packed stadium.
For some, the painting clearly illustrates what they believe Trump is doing. It goes beyond standing up for the symbolism of the flag against the NFL kneeling, and for America itself.
For them, Trump is also tenderly embracing this country, wiping away the filth that those who came before him, sometimes referred to as “The Swamp,” have smeared all over it, tarnishing the greatness America once was.
In that interpretation, Trump is “Making America Great Again,” as promised, in his fight for the flag and in his fight against “The Swamp.” He is doing so in front of a “packed house,” both foreign and domestic.
McNaughton went into more detail about his creation in a video on his YouTube channel, elaborating further in the video description about how Trump inspired the painting:
“I painted President Trump picking up a shredded and trampled flag off the football field. He holds a wet cloth in his right hand, as he attempts to clean it.”
“I respect America. I respect the flag, the anthem, and the president; because he doesn’t back down to those who do not.
“When the NFL players decide to kneel as the national anthem was given, I felt sick. That flag represents the vast number of Americans who have sacrificed their lives for our nation. It is about their blood and the sacrifice of many thousands.
“If we do not respect the flag enough to fight for what it stands for – liberty, justice, and strength – then we will be the weakest generation. The way Trump called out the NFL for not supporting the standing of the national anthem was an example of how a president should lead, with courage to say and do the right thing regardless of the reaction of others.”
He also shared more insights in the video itself. In it he said regarding the symbolic meaning of the flag, “Yes, the right to protest, but not to disrespect the flag. That’s a whole different ballgame.”
“This last football season, we witnessed the NFL players kneeling to the national anthem. And I don’t know about you, but it just really offended me when I considered what that flag represents, and the way that the NFL supported those players, in letting them do that.”
“So, when President Trump chose to speak out against their actions, a lot of people said, ‘Well, that’s unbecoming of a president. He shouldn’t do that.’
“My opinion is that it is exactly what a president should do—to stand up for American values. For that, I cheered him.”
Time published an article about Trump taking a stand on the anthem — and noted that some of the football players were actually protesting him.
But the American public, along with Trump, have been protesting the NFL. During a “Fox & Friends” interview in March of this year, McNaughton said that, like many Americans, he was so bothered by the NFL’s actions, he didn’t even watch the Super Bowl.
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