Artist Jon McNaughton has grown accustomed to criticism for his artwork. Everyone is a critic these days it seems and the recent Twitter-verse meltdown concerning his most recent painting is no different. McNaughton’s newest piece features President Donald Trump clutching an American flag in the middle of a football field and naturally social media erupted with both support and vile criticisms.
McNaughton stated of the reaction to his work – “I paint a lot of provocative images that invoke a lot of emotion so it doesn’t bother me.” He also explained that his inspiration for the painting originated from watching the National Football League (NFL) players bend on one knee during the rendition of the National Anthem in protest of perceived inequality and injustice.
McNaughton entitled his painting “Respect the Flag” and offered this explanation of his work along with an image of lithograph listed for sale for $29.00 –
“I painted President Trump picking up a shredded and trampled flag off the football field. He holds a wet cloth in his right hand, as he attempts to clean it.
I respect America. I respect the flag, the anthem, and the President; because he doesn’t back down to those who do not.
When the NFL players decide to kneel as the national anthem was given, I felt sick. That flag represents the vast number of Americans who have sacrificed their lives for our nation. It is about their blood and the sacrifice of many thousands.
If we do not respect the flag enough to fight for what it stands for – liberty, justice, and strength – then we will be the weakest generation. The way Trump called out the NFL for not supporting the standing of the national anthem was an example of how a President should lead, with courage to say and do the right thing regardless of the reaction of others.”
McNaughton’s work has prompted mixed reactions from people depending on whether they sided with the president or the NFL players. Fox News commentator and news personality Sean Hannity agreed with McNaughton’s assessment and promptly tweeted a link to a YouTube video featuring the painting. Along with the video, Hannity tweeted – The ‘left’ loves art, and especially taxpayer-funded art that is ‘provocative’. Let’s get their reaction to this.”
Many provided a favorable response to Hannity’s provocative question with McNaughton’s imagery for the backdrop, with one Twitter user responding with – “I love art and this captures a unequivocal patriotic movement led by this unwavering President. He continues to put his neck on the line to put this great Nation back on its founding blocks of pure awesomeness.”
I love art and this captures a unequivocal patriotic movement led by this unwavering President. He continues to put his neck on the line to put this great Nation back on its founding blocks of pure awesomeness.
— Renee (@Redtowel4) March 9, 2018
Then there were the hateful responses, of which there were many claiming racism, anti-American sentiment, and the usual leftist rhetoric. One user suggested ALL Conservatives are racist and push an “anti-colored” agenda, stating – “Hey Sean, they aren’t protesting the people who have fought for our rights. They’re protesting the systematic racism faced by people of color. They’re protesting the pro-white/anti-colored narrative the conservative likes to push.”
Hey Sean, they aren’t protesting the people who have fought for our rights. They’re protesting the systematic racism faced by people of color. They’re protesting the pro-white/anti-colored narrative the conservative likes to push.
— Dalissa Hernandez (@DalissaJH) February 27, 2018
Another Twitter user criticized the painting claiming it ” looks like a widdle boy clutching his blankie.”
Looks like a widdle boy clutching his blankie
— Logan Smith (@LoganJames) February 27, 2018
Prior to the protests becoming a significant distraction during NFL games causing many Americans to simply tune out in disgust, McNaughton described himself as a huge football fan and an avid watcher of the NFL. But that all changed with the on-field antics of NFL players such as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick when he chose to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
McNaughton describes his own opinions on America, her flag, and the National Anthem stating – “It’s more than a banner, it represents all the people that have sacrificed, that have died and spilled their blood for this country, and so that’s why it’s so offensive.”
The Utah artist that hails from Provo states he felt inspired to create the work after he noticed President Trump’s tweet in September 2017 asking the NFL to show “respect for our country, flag, and national anthem.”
The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017
McNaughton stated of his response to President Trump’s tweet – “I was proud of him for doing that so I thought I’m going to paint something that represents how a lot of Americans feel about this last NFL football season. I’ll either be considered somebody to be laughed at in the future, or they’ll go ‘Man this guy expressed how millions of Americans felt about this time in our history. I do a lot of divisive type paintings, but I haven’t seen anger for one of my paintings since I painted Obama stepping on the Constitution.”
His work is now receiving a lot of attention that many Americans say is well deserved, despite the icy reviews and scathing criticism received from some major art critics. He reports that he has received hundreds of orders for both lithographs and also for more expensive limited edition canvas prints since the painting’s original release.