Utah Artist’s Latest Painting Depicting Trump with U.S. Flag Tackles NFL Protest Controversy

"Respect the Flag"
Jon McNaughton

A Utah artist is making a statement on the controversies surrounding the NFL protests in his latest work of art depicting President Trump holding an American flag.

Jon McNaughton, an artist who is no stranger to controversy, released his latest painting last Tuesday titled Respect the Flag—showing a somber-looking Trump holding a battered American flag close to his heart while standing on a football field.

“It’s Donald Trump standing on a football field, and he’s picked up the American Flag that’s been trampled,” McNaughton told KSTU. “It’s got grass stains on it, and he’s trying to wipe off some of the mud, and he’s looking at everybody and saying ‘What are you doing? Why did you do this?’”

McNaughton described himself as a big fan of the National Football League (NFL) before NFL players such as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial inequality.

“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,” McNaughton said.

The Utah artist felt inspired to create the work after he noticed Trump’s tweet in September asking the NFL to show “respect for our country, flag, and national anthem.”

“I was proud of him for doing that,” McNaughton said. “So I thought I’m going to paint something that represents how a lot of Americans feel about this last NFL football season.”

McNaughton’s work has prompted mixed reactions from people depending on whether they sided with the president or the NFL players.

“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,” he said. “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.”

McNaughton, who despite receiving icy reviews on the painting from some major art critics, is getting a lot of demand for his work. He said he had received hundreds of orders for both lithographs and more expensive limited edition canvas prints since the painting’s release.

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