On Thurs. Sept. 21, Trump made a statement during a rally in Alabama for a Senate runoff candidate stating that, ‘Wouldn’t you like to see one of our NFL owners, when somebody disrespects the flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field,’”.
Colin Kaepernick has not been signed by any NFL teams since his National Anthem protests last year.
Trump also stated that, “When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they are playing our great national anthem – the only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop.”
Subsequently, NFL players condemned his statements with Washington Redskins linebacker Zach Brown tweeting: “Trump stay in ur place… football have nothing to do wit u smh,”.
The following day Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors stated that he was not going to visit the White House because of differences in political and social beliefs saying, “I don’t want to go. We don’t stand for basically what our president has…the things that he said and the things that he hasn’t said in the right terms, that we won’t stand for it,” he continued.
Immediately following Steph Curry’s statements, Trump withdrew his invitation tweeting that, “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!”
NBA players as well as couches came out and condemned the President including LeBron James tweeting, ” U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
He also stated in a video posted to his show UNINTERRUPTED, ” This guy that we’ve put in charge has tried to divide us once again. You look at him asking NFL owners to get rid of players for exercising their rights and that’s not right.” and that, “Jamel Hill and Colin Kaepernick and all these people are speaking out and it’s for a greater cause. We as American people need to come together even more strongly.”
A lot of voices have expressed that the kneeling of the flag was disrespectful to the military. I sought to receive firsthand opinions of military personnel in order to get their perspectives on this matter.
Brandon, a sophomore at OBU who studies philosophy is a soldier in the US Army Reserve, serving as an HR Specialist. He had this to say, “Trump, can speak his mind and still not violate law, there is a difference between influence and opinion. Trump spoke his mind, an opinion, as everyone is entitled to. I personally believe that a sport that claims to be all American would support said American values, but they don’t. Kapaernick, he used his freedom of speech, and although he deserves to be fired and much more for ignorantly kneeling at the flag, he is entitled to say what he wants, however ignorant it may be. Kapearnick used his right and so did trump, so trump is entitled to stand up for his country as much as Kapearnick is entitled to ignorantly stand against it. Freedom of speech, thank God we have it.”
Lt. Colonel Sherri Galloway of the National Guard stated that, “One of the greatest privileges an American has is having the freedom to make choices within legal limits. Freedom is what so many fought and died for. If someone chooses to do something other than what I believe, are they wrong? We all have the right to express what we believe and most certainly should stand for it. And while we’re standing, others should respect those differences of opinion. To be brave and be free is to walk in YOUR heartfelt convictions, not someone else’s.”
Rodney Galloway, a former Senior Master Sergeant and Aircraft Maintenance Superintendent in the Air Force, stated that, ” As an African American, I support Kaepernick and his right to non-violently protest police brutality perpetrated against so many young black men in this country. After serving 26 years in the military, I fought to give Kaepernick, the NFL and the NBA that right. Personally, I would stand for the flag and national anthem. I laid my life on the line supporting the ideals that they represent.”
This debate about patriotism and police brutality continues to wage on social media and other outlets and public forums. Initial protests were about police brutality and inequality towards People of Color. It is yet to be seen where all of these discussions will lead. However, many hope for a peaceful and equal resolution.