A segment on the radio recently discussed Donald Trump’s decision to invite people this year to celebrate iftar, the name given to the breaking of the daily fast by Muslims during Ramadan. This was an annual practice started some years ago but Trump did not have one last year when he was at the height of his anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions. During an interview on the program The World, the question was asked as to who might be invited and what Muslims would agree to go. The person being interviewed, who worked for president George W. Bush on Muslim outreach, repeatedly kept referring to Trump as the “commander in chief for all Americans”, as if this means that we were obliged to accept an invitation from him to come to the White House.
I hear this sentiment often and it irritates the hell out of me. Article II, Section II of the US Constitution says that the president is the commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States. That’s it. It means that he can give the armed forces orders that they must follow but ordinary citizens are not obliged to do any such thing and can blow him off if we wish. This includes declining his invitation to visit the White House.
In short, we can say to Trump, “You’re not the boss of me”, and the many sports figures who are rejecting invitations to the White House are doing just that because of his absurd accusations that their kneeling to protest police brutality is somehow morally reprehensible.