The president's response to the Philadelphia Eagles isn't just petty — it's dangerous.

Responses to NFL protests during the national anthem have divided the nation and resulted in a dangerous reality for democracy.

The debate over kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the U.S. seems to have reached a new milestone, with the Philadelphia Eagles having their invitation to the White House revoked by Donald Trump.

Per tradition, the Super-Bowl-winning team was invited to meet with Trump, but much of the team backed out. In response, Trump issued this official statement on June 4, the day before the event:


"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better. These fans are still invited to the White House to be part of a different type of ceremony — one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem. I will be there at 3:00 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America."

The sentiment is the equivalent of "Fine! If you're not gonna play with me, I'm not gonna play with you!" But Trump's statement, along with his subsequent tweets, are more than just petty; they're dangerous.

One might even use the word "fascist" — and that's not a term I toss around lightly. Fascism has some fuzzy definitions, but forced nationalism is a hallmark of all of them. A leader of a country attempting to coerce citizens to perform specific displays of patriotism is an undeniably fascist move.

Trump isn't punishing his detractors — he's punishing those who simply associate with those who disagree with him.

None of the Eagles players knelt during the anthem last season, though some have been outspoken supporters of such protests.

Some Eagles players did want to meet with Trump, and those are the players who were punished by the revoked invitation — not for kneeling during the anthem, not for disagreeing with Trump, but for merely being associated with people who disagree with Trump.

Trump could easily have welcomed those team members and taken a "that's their loss" attitude toward the rest. But instead, he washed his hands of anyone having to do with the team at all — even those who might be supportive of him.

That's unfathomable.

In addition, he has given players no options to protest peacefully without receiving his presidential ire.

The NFL has ruled that players are not allowed to kneel during the national anthem without facing fines: They must either stand on the field or remain in the locker room while the anthem plays.

But Trump has stated at least twice that staying in the locker room is unacceptable.  

Image via Donald Trump/Twitter.

Image via Donald Trump/Twitter.

If the erroneous capitalization doesn't make you shudder, the statements made in his tweets should. What Trump is saying is that football players must — not should, but must — "proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart" or they will be publicly flogged in official presidential statements.

Some might suggest we ignore his rants, but a president's words matter — politically, socially, and historically.

Forced displays of patriotism aren't actually patriotism. They're the hallmarks of an anti-democratic regime.

Why is Trump giving this much attention to what football players do during games, anyway?

Supporters say it's because he loves his country, but anyone who's studied how a society slips into oppressive authoritarian regimes (see Madeleine Albright's new book) can recognize the writing on the wall.

Dictatorial power won't come to the U.S. overtly and immediately — it will come through the steady erosion of civil norms, the demonization of peaceful protesters, repeated attacks on the press, and fear-mongering.

It would appear we're right there, folks.

I'm sure some players will still kneel peacefully for criminal justice reform and other social justice issues and face the consequences. I just hope that more citizens, like the man pictured below who boldly knelt during the White House's alternative ceremony, will defy these attacks on the first amendment and join them.

Despotism only wins if we let it.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via The Walt Disney Company / Flickr

One of the ways to tell if you're in a healthy relationship is whether you and your partner are free to talk about other people you find attractive. For many couples, bringing up such a sensitive topic can cause some major jealousy.

Of course, there's a healthy way to approach such a potentially dangerous topic.

Telling your partner you find someone else attractive shouldn't be about making them feel jealous. It's probably also best that if you're attracted to a coworker, friend, or their sibling, that you keep it to yourself.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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