We don’t know if you’ve heard, but Donald Trump has recently made a big deal of chastising those who disrespect the American flag. He has focused on professional football players, because the behavior of men who play a game for a living apparently has the capacity to drive our president into an incoherent rage.
Speaking of incoherence, the president was on Fox News’ Hannity yesterday, as Business Insider reports. They met for an interview at an Air National Guard hangar in Pennsylvania. In the middle of the segment, “Retreat” played from outside the building. Retreat is part of a centuries-old military tradition in the United States. The bugle call is played at 5 p.m. and it “is traditionally a time to secure the flag and pay respect to what it stands for.” All military personnel outside are required to stand at attention during Retreat and turn to face the flag. Anyone driving a vehicle is expected to stop. Civilians and leadership are strongly encouraged to do the same.
Here’s what Trump did:
As you can clearly see, Trump seems to have no earthly idea what Retreat is. He comments on how nice it sounds and decides to make a joke about it. He assumes they’re playing this to honor either Hannity or himself. “They’re playing that in honor of his ratings,” Trump crows, because the man is unable to think in terms other than television ratings.
Now, it should be noted that Trump was not expected to stand for the music, because he was indoors. However, you can see members of the audience standing up, and since they could all hear Retreat, it would have been a nice way for the president to demonstrate some knowledge of and respect for military protocol.
He did neither. He made a joke designed to stroke his ego, one that made light of a military tradition that predates the official formation of the United States of America. President Trump, after weeks of berating and threatening NFL players exercising their first amendment right to protest, couldn’t manage to respect the flag at a military base. And his disrespect was accompanied by the applause and laughter of the audience Fox News had gathered for the interview.
Is there any better encapsulation of these armchair patriots, these conservative pundits who can’t believe anyone could protest the flag at a sporting event? These people who relentlessly insult and threaten black athletes for peacefully expressing dissatisfaction in the way they are treated in their home country? These people who incessantly bring up veterans in their arguments as to why the flag must be respected at all times?
Trump called NFL players “sons of bitches” for kneeling, yet he won’t take a second to shut up during a tradition on an actual military base.
For reference, here’s Matt Oswalt with a clip of Robin Williams demonstrating how you’re supposed to react to Retreat.
(Williams didn’t know what Retreat was either, but he read the context clues and was respectful anyway. Imagine that.)