Donald Trump insinuated strongly that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest social injustice, police brutality, and murder “shouldn’t be in the country.”
Trump was interviewed by Fox shortly after reports that teams whose players do not stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” will be fined. However, the new policy enables players to stay in the locker room during the playing of the anthem if they choose to.
The incendiary and divisive issue has literally been ripping the country apart since former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting and later kneeling, for the national anthem, as a member of the San Francisco 49ers during the 2016 season. Despite being a very capable player, “Kaep” has not been in the NFL since the end of that year.
“Well, I think that’s good,” Trump told the one news outlet he loves talking to, Fox News. “I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still I think it’s good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, and the NFL owners did the right thing if that’s what they’ve done.”
Trump figuratively and fiendishly tossed gasoline on an already inflamed and racially polarized anthem debate when the former reality TV show host (“Celebrity Apprentice”) told an overwhelmingly white Alabama crowd that players who protest are “sons of a b—hes” who should be fired from their NFL team. That incited multiple players to join Kaepernick in the demonstrations.
Kaepernick, who is not currently under contract with a team, is suing the NFL along with former teammate Eric Reid for what they allege is collusion to keep them jobless.
Of course, in a move that can only be described as unscrupulous and uncouth, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are taking complete credit for the NFL owners decision. Pence tweeted “#winning” on Wednesday with a headline about the policy, while Trump blasted the league for taking so long (two years) to arrive at this decision
“I think the people pushed it forward. This was not me,” Trump told Fox. “I brought it out. I think the people pushed it forward. This country’s very smart. We have very smart people. And that’s something ideally (that) could have been taken care of when it first started. It would have been a lot easier. But if they did that, they’re doing the right thing.”
Despite the NFL owners coming to a unanimous decision to ban protesting during the national anthem, a few of the owners, however, said they stand behind their players’ First Amendment rights.
New York Jets acting owner Christopher Johnson, for example, said in a statement on Wednesday that he would pay the fines incurred if and when one of his players take a knee, the Washington Post reported.
49ers owner Jed York also said he abstained from voting because he wanted to hear from more players.