When, in a game last Sunday in Mexico City versus the New England Patriots, the Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch chose to sit during the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and then stood during the Mexican National Anthem, the idea of the multiverse—multiple realities and infinite branching probabilities—suddenly seemed inadequate. As soon as the cameras focused on Lynch, this plane of existence narrowed to a single undeniable probability: that President Donald Trump was going to tweet about it sometime soon.
Trump happily obliged fate. On Monday morning at 6:25a.m., in the block of time reserved for blasting people and things he’s seen on cable news that he doesn’t like, the president tweeted that “next time [the] NFL should suspend him for remainder of season.” Utilizing the extra 140 characters Twitter recently bestowed, Trump was also able to imply that Lynch was a factor in the the NFL’s sinking ratings. With that, Lynch became just the latest in a line of outspoken black people that Trump has attacked. It’s kind of a thing for him.
Ten months into Trump’s presidency, everything has changed, and everything has remained the same. In the onslaught of the 2017 news cycle, perhaps the one constant has been the president’s use of his expansive bully pulpit to target prominent black people. In addition to Lynch, Trump is also feuding with LaVar Ball, the brash celebrity dad of LiAngelo Ball, a UCLA player whose shoplifting arrest in China turned into a minor international incident. In a bizarre feud, Trump attacked Ball and his family for not being quite grateful enough to the president for securing the younger Ball’s freedom. LaVar Ball has refused to apologize or thank Trump, and has used the spectacle to engage in more carnival-barking, this time via a CNN interview.