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In the flash of a summer and a quarter football season, we’ve seen some amazing stunts of national treachery. 

The stuff that would make Benedict Arnold jealous and, since Republicans like to use his name a lot, Ronald Reagan squirm.  One mind-blowing case of open and deliberate political sabotage after another: GOP nominee Donald Trump is so hell bent on saving brand face that his narcissism presents a time-bomb existential crisis to democracy as we know it. He gushes with adulation for Russian President Vladimir Putin, a nasty geopolitical rival rubbing hands together for our collective demise. Running mate Mike Pence, conservative darling, dittos it, inexplicably channeling police-state Putin as leadership coach for the current, sitting American president. Many also forget that incredulous presser moment Trump beckoned Russian Mr. Robots to continuing probing for lost Hillary Clinton emails – and (lo and behold) just a few months later appears to have had his wish granted. Meanwhile, rogue, Kremlin-friendly turncoat Edward Snowden gets a full movie biopic head nod from critically-acclaimed director Oliver Stone; not exactly the hit of the summer, but it’s not like Stone did one for Nat Turner, right? It gets better when alleged rapist, Julian Assange, snuggly holed up in an Ecuadorian embassy and enjoying house visits from a former Baywatch vixen, gets props from the torch pumping masses for being Moscow’s tool in the very public and humiliating Clinton email dump. 

Federal officials warn of Russian tampering in this US election – with recent server attacks on Twitter, Spotify, Reddit and Amazon perhaps a harbinger of things to come. And yet, with Putin flexing military muscle from Artic tundra to Syria, nearly half of all Trump supporters believe Russia is a “friend” in a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll. The GOP nominee himself engages in senile dismissal, despite mounting evidence pointing to Moscow. 

But let Colin Kaepernick, Antonio Cromoartie or any group of relatively harmless black men decide to take a pass on the National Anthem any given football Saturday or Sunday and the same folks above seem happily inclined to put them in front of a firing squad. 

What we’re seeing this election cycle is a re-visitation of black men as national security threats as opposed to recognition of the white men who really are. Trump received relative kid glove treatment from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when compared to her rather damning “really dumb” debunk of Kaepernick. Yet, there is a vein of widespread, casually mainstream conservative acceptance of Trump toying with destabilization while those taking knee on the anthem are viewed as unpatriotic. And, really, there’s not much difference between Trump’s flirtations with rebellion and the same from pre-Confederacy slaveholders who eventually acted out on it and almost took down the entire Union when they did.  

The very meaning of patriotism is all twisted. Defiant black athletes and an understandably skeptical black public didn’t get the memo that it now includes nuzzling up on enemies who point nuclear weapons at you. 

Differences in treatment from the public have much to do with skin color. Our toxic political climate invites warped, racially-debauched definitions of treason. Most of us won’t admit to it. The powerful, rich, tax-evading white man can engage in accelerating a parasitic take down of democracy with little obstruction other than cable talk outrage and Saturday Night Live skits. Yet, the less powerful black man innocently grabbing for free speech rights (whether you agree with him or not) elicits the sale of t-shirts with his likeness in a rifle target scope.  What’s interesting is that white male public figures called out above are being heralded as heroes of liberty, vainglorious guardians or surrogates of American greatness who actively “fight back” against marks of white nationalist animosity. 

This is nothing new, however.  Just as gun sales have skyrocketed since President Obama’s inauguration, whites had feverishly armed up during Reconstruction upon fear of freed slaves and first black elected officials.  As we thoughtfully memorialize the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Movement, those familiar with it remember California legislators, spearheaded by then Gov. Reagan and the NRA, successfully pushing open-carry bans when the targeted community advocacy group had no choice but to arm itself against constant police violence. Some folks just can’t help themselves. 

Hypocrisy is found in willful collusion with domestic (terrorist) and international enemies of the state – while simultaneously arguing that all they’re trying to do is defend the state and its Constitution. Yeah, ok. Along the way, dusting off old slave-era records, defending the state really entails vilifying disagreeable black people as national security threats, whether through slandering President Obama as a not-from-here alien “other,” to force a starting quarterback with opinions to consider hiring body guards or, more odiously, arrest or shoot them on the spot for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, saying “the wrong thing.” 

CHARLES D. ELLISON is a veteran political strategist and National Political Correspondent for WEAA 88.9 FM. He is also Contributing Editor to The Root, Washington Correspondent for The Philadelphia Tribune, a Contributor to The Hill and the Weekly Washington Insider for WDAS-FM (Philadelphia). He can be heard at “The Ellison Report,” a weekly public affairs magazine broadcast and podcast on WEAA 88.9 FM. He can be reached @ellisonreport