by Greg Sargent November 22, 2017 Email the author THE MORNING PLUM: Let’s be clear about this: President Trump regularly goes out of his way to attack prominent African Americans not just to “stoke the culture wars,” as this euphemism often has it — but, more precisely, to stoke the sense among many of his supporters that the system is unfairly rigged on behalf of minorities, and that he’s here to put things right. This morning, Trump once again tweeted angrily about LaVar Ball, the father of a UCLA basketball player who, along with two others, had been released by China after getting arrested for shoplifting. But what’s particularly noteworthy is that only minutes later Trump then tweeted about kneeling football players. What’s the connection there? Here’s Trump’s tweetstorm: It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence — IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool! The NFL is now thinking about a new idea — keeping teams in the Locker Room during the National Anthem next season. That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league! Ball had previously refused to thank Trump, and the president had responded by tweeting that “I should have left them in jail!” Today’s tweets go further, suggesting Ball was insufficiently thankful to Trump personally for actions that are expected of U.S. presidential administrations. The immediate segue to kneeling football players is suggestive, and reminds us that we’re seeing a pattern in Trump’s public flaying of prominent African Americans. It is true that in some of these cases, Trump was attacked or at least criticized first. But it’s hard to avoid noticing a gratuitously ugly pattern in Trump’s responses, in which Trump vaguely suggests either that his targets are getting above their station, or that they’re asking for too much and are insufficiently thankful for all that has been done for them. Kneeling football players are protesting structural racism, hideously unfair racist prison sentencing disparities, and police brutality — i.e., profound injustices that our society inflicts on countless African Ameri
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