People Are (Still) Outraged Over Trump’s Comments on the NFL

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Banu Ahmad '21, Staff Writer

It has been a month since President Donald Trump made his NFL proclamation. Trump made a few comments about NFL players “taking a knee” that caused a lot of confusion and debate. Many people wonder, is this actually about disrespecting the flag, or is it about racism?

The “Taking a knee” movement was started by Colin Kaepernick in the summer of 2016, in protest of police brutality towards people of color. At the beginning of NFL games he played in, he would kneel during the national anthem.

A year and a completely different president later, according to cnn.com, Trump added that if fans would “leave the stadium” when players kneel in protest during the national anthem, “I guarantee, things will stop.” In true Trump fashion, he didn’t stop there. He went on to say NFL owners should respond to the players by saying, “Get that son of a b**** off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!” These comments have added fuel to the fire, rather than extinguishing the flame.

The original intention of the protest has changed from a protest against police brutality, to a protest against Trump himself. America seems to be getting tired of a president who doesn’t act like a president.

When the images of the White Supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia were released, Trump was interviewed about the incident.  His reaction was very mild about their protest, compared to the “Take a Knee” protest.  According to the Washington Post, Trump said “I think there is blame on both sides You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.” By putting these two groups on the same footing, Trump was, in effect, defending the alt-right.

One would ask: why was Trump’s response to NFL players peacefully protesting so harsh, while being so timid against white supremacists? Taking a knee is well within the NFL players’ First Amendment, rights. Why is “freedom of speech” a valid excuse for white supremacists, but not for NFL players? We are forced to compare the two, because violent white supremacists are being condoned, but NFL protesters are being insulted and discriminated againstFreshman Maythem Al-Anpaqi said, “Donald Trump is racist because he condoned Charlottesville’s white supremacists, but not peaceful NFL protesters.” The blame shouldn’t be on both sides.

According to The Huffington Post, when the NBA banned kneeling and required players and coaches to stand during the National Anthem, the New York Knicks stood, but locked arms in protest. Trump argued that kneeling during the anthem was disrespectful to the flag, and to the military serving our country. But kneeling is also a sign of respect during some events. The “Take a Knee” protest stands for freedom and equality, as does the flag, itself.  Everyone should have the right to protest peacefully, but protesting against other’s rights to protest shouldn’t be acceptable.