Point of View: Clapper Applauded

It’s all for one and all for one now

I applauded James Clapper, the former C.I.A. director, the other night when I heard him say he thought Russia had won the election.

He said it with finality — I had on these pages in mid-April merely wondered if it were true — and Judy Woodruff, his interviewer, said it was a stunning conclusion if so.

As I say, you don’t know what to believe anymore. Nothing’s out of bounds. What John McCain said in “The Restless Wave” about our founding principles almost sounds elegiac. 

It’s all for one and all for one now. You wonder if ever again there will be general agreement as to a common purpose in domestic and foreign affairs aside from enriching the rich at home while sucking up to myriad capricious dictators.

I would go so far as to include in that number the National Football League, which this week took a stand on standing when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played. This may well be the land of the free, though the millionaire minions whose heroics and brain-scrambling collisions delight us each Sunday in the fall apparently are not. Presumably we are not to be reminded when the national anthem is played of any divisions that may exist in this fissured country.

What were those principles the senator cited? For one, that this is “a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the principle that all men [and women] are created equal.” And that our great cause, the cause that binds us, lies in defending the dignity of all human beings and their right to freedom and equal justice.

I didn’t find it undignified when the N.F.L. players knelt and locked arms. It seemed right, as if it were more an act of supplication than protest. After all, it is what is done in church every Sunday, in humility and adoration.

Linking arms and kneeling is, in fact, the best way, I think, to celebrate this country’s strengths while praying at the same time that its wounds be healed — our slavishness to mammon perhaps being chief among them, an addiction that can bring many to heel.