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President Trump Attacks American Citizens For Exercising Their First Amendment Rights

Kaepernick Kneeling Anthem

Last night during a campaign rally speech for Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange, President Trump decided to wade into the still-ongoing debate about N.F.L. players such as Colin Kaepernick and the pre-game protests they’ve waged by declining to stand for the National Anthem:

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — President Trump said on Friday night that N.F.L. owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem, and he encouraged spectators to walk out of stadiums in protest.

In an extended riff during a speech in Alabama, Trump also bemoaned what he sees as less violence in football games.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

Several athletes, including a handful of N.F.L. players, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest of the treatment of minorities by the police. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend last year when he played for the San Francisco 49ers, has not been signed by a team for this season.

Trump says those players are disrespecting the flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said, encouraging owners to act.

Trump predicted that any owner who followed his advice would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.

Trump, who was in Alabama campaigning for Senator Luther Strange, also attributed a decline in N.F.L. ratings to the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as to what he described as a decline in violence in the game.

He said that players were being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and that it’s “not the same game.”

Over the past several seasons, the N.F.L. and college football have increased penalties and enforcement for illegal hits to the head and for hitting defenseless players. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers associated with playing football.

Here’s video of what Trump said:

Several current and former N.F.L. players have hit back at Trump for his statement last night, as has the N.F.L. Player’s Association:

The head of the NFL Players Association, the union representing professional football players, said Saturday that the union “will never back down” from supporting players’ right to protest.

The statement follows President Trump saying Friday night that people should “pick up and leave” NFL games if players kneel as a form of protest during the national anthem.

“Whether or not [NFL commissioner] Roger [Goodell] and the owners will speak for themselves about their views on player rights and their commitment to player safety remains to be seen,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement.

“This union, however, will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks,” he continued.

Trump told a crowd at a rally for Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange (R) on Friday night that NFL players will stop kneeling if crowds started leaving games.

“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,” Trump said. “I guarantee things will stop.”

Trump also said NFL owners should fire players if they refuse to stand during the national anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now,'” he continued, adding, “‘He is fired.'”

Trump also accused NFL referees of “ruining the game” by penalizing players who “hit too hard.”

“Today, if you hit too hard…15 yards, throw him out of the game,” Trump said. “They are ruining the game, right?”

Multiple NFL players have fired back at Trump, with one Washington Redskins player telling him to “stay in your place” following his comments.

Here’s the statement from the N.F.L.P.A.:

And N.F.L. Commissioner released this statement this morning:

Additionally, CNN’s Jake Tapper had this comment:

To be clear, if the owner of an N.F.L. team decided to discipline players who declined to stand for the Anthem, or if the N.F.L. itself fined such players for such activity, it would not be a violation of the First Amendment. Both the team and the N.F.L. itself are private organizations and the protection of the First Amendment don’t apply to them at all. It’s unclear, of course, if an owner or the league has the authority to do what Trump suggests because it’s not at all clear that Kaepernick or any of the other players who have protested during the Anthem are violating any team or league rule, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the N.F.L.P.A. would likely bar punishing a player for violating a rule that doesn’t exist. Additionally, the protests as such don’t occur during gameplay and clearly haven’t caused any interruptions or problems during the course of the game itself. Therefore, it’s entirely likely that Trump is recommending an owner do something that they have no authority to do at all.

Leaving aside these technicalities, though, it strikes me that that there’s something utterly inappropriate about a President who attacks individuals for exercising rights that are guaranteed by the First Amendment. As an American citizen, Trump has as much right to speak his mind, such as it is, as anyone else, of course. However, as President of the United States, he has a responsibility to do so in a manner that recognizes that the people he’s criticizing have the same rights that he does. His remarks here demonstrate quite starkly that he doesn’t, and that he cares more about using this issue as red meat to toss to his supporters than he does about any issues regarding the fact that these players are merely exercising their right to engage in a silent, non-disruptive, and non-violent pre-game protest. None of this should come as a surprise, of course, both during the campaign and since becoming President, Trump has shown contempt for parties exercising their rights, and this has continued into his time as President.

On a final note, it’s worth noting that Trump decided to call people engaging in a peaceful, non-violent protest “sons of bitches” while he is on the record as referring to people who people who participated in a rally that repeated Nazi-like slogans such as “Blood and Soil!” and “Jews Will Not Replace Us!” as being “very fine people.” Draw your own conclusions from that.

Update: Trump continued his attack against Kaepernick and other N.F.L. players this afternoon on Twitter:

Mr. President, that flag stands for the right of people to stand up for what they believe in, even when that includes kneeling during the National Anthem. It even stands for your right to use Twitter to demonstrate how much of a complete idiot you are.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    In a related matter, Trump has withdrawn (by Twitter, of course) his invitation to the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House, because Stephen Curry said he would vote against going there.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  2. Mister Bluster says:

    Donald Trump took an oath “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
    There is nothing in the Presidential Oath about the American Flag or the National Anthem.
    …what the hell do you have to lose? was Trump’s pitch to black American Citizens during the campaign.
    Just your First Amendment rights and your job unless you kow tow to his blatantly racist demands.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 3

  3. Joe says:

    Donald Trump . . . again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  4. Mikey says:

    @CSK: “You didn’t dump me, I dumped YOU!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  5. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I’m sure he took that oath about as seriously as he took any other promise he ever made to various wives, colleagues, business partners, subcontractors, investors, voters…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 2

  6. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    Precisely. And no one ever resigns Donald Trump’s employ, one is fired.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  7. Franklin says:

    Doug, I’d say your last paragraph is just about the perfect conclusion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  8. James Pearce says:

    he cares more about using this issue as red meat to toss to his supporters

    If true (and I believe it is) the nature of the protests will need to change lest we provide Trump supporters with a huge meal that will not slake their appetite.

    My hope: Not a single NFL player takes a knee during the national anthem, but they all court fines from the Commish by wearing a sticker on their helmets or a certain color of towel.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 30

  9. Davebo says:

    To be clear, if the owner of an N.F.L. team decided to discipline players who declined to stand for the Anthem, or if the N.F.L. itself fined such players for such activity, it would not be a violation of the First Amendment.

    But I’m pretty sure it would be a violation of their Collective Bargaining Agreement.

    A small price to pay for no guarantee contracts.

    ETA: I see now you covered that. Should have guessed!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  10. Dan says:

    Stupid rich kids playing football, never watch it again nor my
    family and friends….. hope that helps your exaggerated pay!

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 29

  11. al-Ameda says:

    As is one would expect, this breaks entirely on racial lines. Many Blacks approve of this Anthem protest, and most Whites do not.

    Trump was predictably ‘dog whistling’ his base, and to be fair, so-called patriotism is one hot button, and race is the other. If Whites had the same life experience with injustice and discrimination as Blacks did, Whites might not be so quick to dismiss guys like Kaepernick as unpatriotic.

    Trump speaks to the inner-moron in many Americans.

    DOUG IS EXACTLY RIGHT:
    On a final note, it’s worth noting that Trump decided to call people engaging in a peaceful, non-violent protest “sons of bitches” while he is on the record as referring to people who people who participated in a rally that repeated Nazi-like slogans such as “Blood and Soil!” and “Jews Will Not Replace Us!”0 as being “very fine people.” Draw your own conclusions from that.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 44 Thumb down 2

  12. Lit3Bolt says:

    Nice for Jemele Hill to be completely vindicated within two weeks.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 0

  13. EddieInCA says:

    Trump just guaranteed that many, many more NFL players will kneel tomorrow.

    Additionally, watch NBA players start doing it as well.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 1

  14. michael reynolds says:

    The president of the United States spends his time insulting Kim Jong Un, Rosie O’Donnell and Steph Curry. Is that the MAGA his cult was hoping for?

    I count this as another bit of validation for my November 9th theory (just a hope, then) that the larger American (and world) culture would reject Trump like a bad kidney transplant. Trump has been categorically rejected by the entire creative class, by every consumer-driven business, by Silicon Valley and now by the sports world.

    Trump has recruited exactly zero new supporters. He has his base and nothing else. He’ll never get anything else. The best-case scenario for Trump is that he leaves office after four years seen as a national embarrassment we all try desperately to forget, like a three-day bender. That’s his best case. That’s what he can aspire to.

    His worst case scenario is that he watches his former campaign manager and national security advisor indicted on felonies, followed by his son, his son-in-law and his favorite daughter. Public hearings expose the famous piss-tape and conversations clearly showing collusion and obstruction. His business is dismantled by multiple cases of tax evasion, fraud and money-laundering. He pardons everyone and at that point we’re looking at national strikes, ex-presidents and other grown-ups demanding he step down, waves of resignations inside his administration, the crippling of the US government.

    If Trump is lucky he’s a national embarrassment. If he’s unlucky he dies broke, with him and his family avoiding extradition to New York or the District in some foreign country. I still think Philippines. The weather’s like Palm Beach and it’s a thug-run state.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 1

  15. Blue Galangal says:

    @EddieInCA: Yes, LeBron James owned Trump on Twitter. It’s enough to make me start watching basketball.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  16. @michael reynolds:

    At least a three-day bender includes the opportunity to drink excessive amounts of adult beverages.

    Oh wait, that applies to the Trump Era too, doesn’t it?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  17. Robert Prather says:

    “speaking his mind, such as it is” is attest jab. As for President Bone Spurs, I’ll look elsewhere for counsel on patriotism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  18. Slugger says:

    Trump has delivered nothing of substance to his base. We still have Obamacare, no Mexican wall, the multinational agreement with Iran, no tax cuts, etc. The White House staffing is truly a reality TV show. In Alabama, he is on the other side from Palin and many supporters. Thus he reaches out to his base with the politics of resentment and insults. He picks predictable targets including Kim, Iran, and leads cheers of “Lock her up”.
    Weak, pathetic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    Jesus you do fear the wrath of the Trumpies, don’t you? What exactly do you think they’re going to do? Become obnoxious internet trolls? Like they already are?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 1

  20. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    The president of the United States spends his time insulting Kim Jong Un, Rosie O’Donnell and Steph Curry. Is that the MAGA his cult was hoping for?

    Unfortunately, it’s probably close enough to what they were hoping for to keep 80% of the GOP in camp. And I wish that ignominious failure in 2020 was the best case scenario; unfortunately, he could win the same 35 or so states he won in 2016 and get reelected.

    While I would enjoy seeing fans who are paying $117-1179 per ticket for the Seahawks leave the stadium, at no refund, in disgust because “that nCLAAANNNGGGG just disrespected our flag,” I won’t be holding my breath waiting for it to happen. I not sure how much the owners and management would be concerned either–although there is concessions money to consider, I guess.

    To be fair to our illustrious President, I see his point: more violence equals more traumatic head injury (at least according to current research on the matter) and more traumatic head injury equals more Trump voters. MAGA!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. James Pearce says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Trump just guaranteed that many, many more NFL players will kneel tomorrow.

    Trump, a pro-brutality pseudo-fascist, certainly hopes so. He wants nothing more than to divide the country for his own benefit. Any players kneeling during the anthem (instead of expressing themselves in other ways) are basically saying, “Let me help you with that, Mr. President.”

    @michael reynolds:

    Jesus you do fear the wrath of the Trumpies, don’t you?

    You know as well as I do the Trumpies will spend the next 8 years attempting to remake this country in ways you will not be able to tolerate.

    We have in the White House a white nationalist, pro-police brutality bully who is not only going to ignore the merits your protest, but will also seek to destroy you personally, either through an abuse of his office, or more likely, by unleashing his mongrels.

    For the record, here’s what GW Bush had to say about Cindy Sheehan: “I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her position, and she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has the right to her position. And I thought long and hard about her position — I’ve heard her position from others, which is ‘get out of Iraq now.’ And it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long run if we were to do so.”

    That was Bush, a model of decency in comparison to what we’ve got now.

    What scares me is this idea that we can beat Trump with protests and sick Twitter burns and celebrity spokespeople. Trump is so awful he’s been inoculated against all of that stuff. We’re never going to beat him if we keep playing into his hands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 16

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    We are not playing into his hands.

    So far the protests you despise appear to have saved Obamacare. DACA protests sent Trump into the arms of Pelosi and Schumer. And Colin Kaepernick’s protest has provoked Trump into making an enemy of professional sports.

    In fact the opposition has successfully isolated Trump from the mainstream. He’s stuck at 40% and assuming he can be re-elected is a wild stretch. He lost the vote last time and squeaked by in three states which may or may not have been the result of direct Russian tampering and were certainly affected by Russian media tampering.

    What we are doing is stopping the infection from spreading, and we’ve done it quite successfully. Trump is the least effective president in modern history. He has thus far achieved 0% of his major legislative goals.

    The reason you exaggerate his power and the power of his people is that secretly, James, you want them to win. You believe that angry white people in the sticks are inherently stronger than equally angry people of various backgrounds in the opposition. Yet, since the election the opposition has added support and Trump has lost support. If we’re so weak and they are so strong, how come they can’t kill Obamacare? How come the military is subverting Trump’s trans-ban? How come his entire industrial advisor group walked out on him? Why do people who rely on public support have no reluctance to attack him openly?

    He’s got white evangelical Christians. That’s it. That’s what he’s got. In a country that goes right on secularizing day by day. White evangelical Christians, people clinging to fantasies and delusions and living in the past. They’re not winning, nor are they going to. This election was their Battle of The Bulge – a surprising advance that was blocked by determined opposition and will now be shattered.

    You’re a lousy general because you can’t see the forces clearly. And you fail to see what’s happening because fundamentally you want to believe this is still a country run by and for white people, and you despise everyone to your left.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 4

  23. JohnMcC says:

    @michael reynolds: Just for the record; ‘he’s got OLD white evangelicals….’ Which is not just a little quibble because every day the demographics keep up their slow steady compounding-interest magic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  24. MBunge says:

    @michael reynolds: squeaked by in three states which may or may not have been the result of direct Russian tampering and were certainly affected by Russian media tampering.

    You are stopping nothing. You ARE the infection. Have you noticed the poll numbers for the Democrats and the news media? Have you noticed the horrid state of Democratic fundraising? Have you noticed the rise of college campus attacks of free speech and the violence backing up those attacks.

    Your protests and hysteria didn’t save Obamacare. It was saved because a bunch of Republicans were never serious about getting rid of it. You didn’t save DACA, either. Heck, Trump is the one who probably saved DACA from being overturned in court.

    Mike

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 35

  25. MBunge says:

    @James Pearce:

    Forget it, James. You can’t expect people in an existential crisis to think rationally. They’re not angry at Trump because he’s horrible. They’re enraged because Trump shattered their illusions about themselves and the world. They don’t care that their behavior will just mean our present pseudo-fascist will be replaced in the future with an actual fascist. All they do care about is self-medicating their emotional and spiritual pain.

    Remember, they have convinced themselves that everything was fine and then Trump got magically elected. If we magically get rid of Trump, everything will go back to being fine.

    Mike

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 33

  26. Joe says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    “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,” Trump said. “I guarantee things will stop.”

    We all saw this, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  27. Facebones says:

    I know everyone on the internet fancies themselves a constitutional lawyer and offers up steaming hot takes about censorship, but the president threatening you with the loss of your job because you expressed a political opinion is literally why there’s a first amendment.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 1

  28. Lit3Bolt says:

    @MBunge:

    So the only way to stop pseudo-fascists is to…passively support fascism?

    IMO, both you and Pearce are quislings. You’re white men frightened by your own irrelevance and incompetence.

    Stay in your safe spaces, snowflakes.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 4

  29. Mister Bluster says:

    If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues,” Trump tweeted, “he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!
    Self Absorbed, Racist, Sexual Pervert REPUBLICAN President Pork Chop Pud.

    If you, Donald Trump, want the privilage of serving the entire population of the United States as President. STOP GRABBING WOMEN BY THE PUSSY!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  30. Hal_10000 says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Trump just guaranteed that many, many more NFL players will kneel tomorrow.

    I think that’s likely. The NFL players tend to be very protective of each other. And they have a strong union. If the President attacks them, more will kneel just as a matter of solidarity.

    NFL ratings are down this year and I posted that I think ti’s at least partially because of the protests (other reasons: CTE, boredom, etc.). People are tired of the politicization of everything. But 1) that’s the price you pay when you protest and I’m sure the protesting players don’t mind the NFL getting hit in the wallet if it draw more attention to the issue; 2) I don’t think people appreciate just how big a role Trump is playing in politicizing our entire culture.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  31. Hal_10000 says:

    Post-Scriptum: We were wondering how long Trump’s “good polls” would last. He can’t help himself, can he?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  32. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    secretly, James, you want them to win.

    Long after you’ve retreated into your new French villa, Michael, I will still be the only white dude on my block, living it, not just talking about it.

    In fact the opposition has successfully isolated Trump from the mainstream.

    Is that a fact? He’s got both the right and the left eating out of his hand and he’s only getting started.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 15

  33. Mister Bluster says:

    @MBunge:..Trump is the one who probably saved DACA from being overturned in court.
    Salami, pastrami, BALONEY! This is the same Trump who called Mexicans drug dealers, criminals and rapists and made it very clear he wanted them out of the United States.

    It was a quarter-century of norm-trashing by our elites that made Trump’s election possible in the first place
    Please note another example of norm-trashing by Citizen Trump as he calls for the assassination of Hillary Clinton.
    “If she gets to pick her judges,” Trump said, “nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  34. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    You’re not worth responding to. You are deep in the cult now. Good bye.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  35. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    Yeah, that’s not an answer is it? Blah blah blah, look out you lefties! Blah blah blah.

    And you think Trump will last 8 years. I’ll bet he doesn’t make it to two.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  36. gVOR08 says:

    @Robert Prather:

    As for President Bone Spurs, I’ll look elsewhere for counsel on patriotism.

    In On Tyranny Timothy Snyder, a Yale Historian who’s studied the turn to autarchy in the 20s and 30s offers twenty lessons. Number 19 is “Be a patriot.” As an example of what patriotism isn’t, he uses Trump’s draft dodging, and also mocking of McCain, comparing sex in NY to military service, tax avoidance, admiration of and relationships with Putin, Gaddafi, and Assad, calling on Russia to intervene in the election, hiring Manafort, appointment of Tillerson, etc..

    The president is a nationalist, which is not at all the same thing as a patriot. A nationalist encourages us to be our worst, and then tells us that we are the best. A nationalist, “although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge,” wrote Orwell, tends to be “uninterested in what happens in the real world.” Nationalism is relativist, since the only truth is the resentment we feel when we contemplate others. As the novelist Danilo Kiš put it, nationalism “has no universal values, aesthetic or ethical.”

    A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves. A patriot must be concerned with the real world, which is the only place where his country can be loved and sustained. A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well—and wishing that it would do better.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  37. EddieInCA says:

    @MBunge:

    Remember, they have convinced themselves that everything was fine and then Trump got magically elected. If we magically get rid of Trump, everything will go back to being fine.

    Trump didn’t get “magially elected”. He lost the popular vote by a whole lot and won three states by a total of 70,000 to win the electoral college. He won the presidency while losing the election.

    Since then, he’s bleeding support. Additionally, GOP Reps in swing districts are resigning at historic levels for a party in the majority.

    Yeah, it’s going great for Trump, Mike. Really great. You’re delusional. Old white people is not a winning coalition.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  38. B. R. Bong says:

    How come consequences for free speech are ok against conservatives, but not leftists?

    What’s wrong with the NFL firing them? It actually wouldn’t violate their free speech rights, since the NFL is a private entity.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 23

  39. James Pearce says:

    @MBunge:

    They’re not angry at Trump because he’s horrible.

    No, they’re angry at Trump because he is horrible. I know you’re a supporter, but I would suspect that even you have to acknowledge he’s got a unique strain of horribleness in him.

    I mean, it’s just unprofessional for this guy to be up on a podium saying this stuff. He’s POTUS and he thinks he’s on a Real Time with Billl Maher panel? C’mon. (I personally don’t find it “refreshing” to have such an unvarnished POTUS, but I know people who do.)

    @michael reynolds:

    Yeah, that’s not an answer is it?

    Look, there is no answer to “YOU’RE A RACIST” besides “Yes, I am” or “No, I’m not.” Progressives like to go “YOU’RE A RACIST” because they know “No, I’m not” is the weakest possible answer. And maybe, just maybe, someone will finally say “Yes, I am.”

    Well, someone finally said “Yes, I am,” and he lives in the White House.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

  40. Tyrell says:

    I suppose that I could write about there being a time when athletes performed with great skill, honor, and respect. I could also write of the president once again behaving like a kid in a playground spat when making his comments about some of these “professional” athletes behavior on the field. Both would be a waste of time. Long ago I watched great athletes on television and in person. Things were far different back then. The field, arena, and court was their office, their workplace, a place of honor. All the while making salaries that stagger the imagination, and having privileges that most people can only dream about. I dropped the tv sports viewing some time ago: games are too long, too many commercials, and too much talk.
    I recall a nice, cool fall afternoon a few years ago. I decided to go up the road to see a small college football game. Parking was free. Admission was $4 or so. You could bring in your own snacks and drinks. People could sit wherever: in bleachers or in grassy areas on blankets. After the game, some of the players hung around and talked to the people. Some had to go change and do some studying. There is a lesson there. Compare that to the “big time” college and “professional” games. It now costs $100 or more to take a family to a pro game; in a stadium subsidized with taxpayer money.
    These are players that I remember seeing in person or on tv: Jurgensen, Larry Brown, Coach Lombardi, Coach Allen, Coach Alston, Koufax, Bench, Maris, Ripken, Gretzky, Esposito, Makita, Russell, West, Maravich.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  41. Mikey says:

    @B. R. Bong: This is about the President trying to influence a private organization to take punitive measures against an employee who has taken a Constitutionally-protected action with which the President disagrees, but which the organization allows.

    Do you, and the rest of Trump’s supporters, really see no problem with this? Really? Because that kind of relationship between a nation’s leaders and private enterprise is a defining attribute of fascism.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  42. Hal_10000 says:

    Things Trump has gotten mad at: Obama, Democrats, Republicans, McConnell, Ryan, McCain, two sports leagues, a broadway show, the media, the judiciary, his own AG, the FBI, Mueller, pollsters, Clinton, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Iranian moderates, Comey. I could go on and on.

    Things he hasn’t: Russia. The Alt Right. White Supremacists. Erdogan’s thugs beating people on the streets of DC. Saudi Arabia.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 45 Thumb down 0

  43. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “NFL ratings are down this year and I posted that I think ti’s at least partially because of the protests (other reasons: CTE, boredom, etc.). People are tired of the politicization of everything. ”

    Awards show ratings are down, too. And yes, you can ascribe whatever reason fits your political view to that. But the two actually have one huge thing in common that transcends politics — as audiences have shifted away from watching shows live and instead DVRing them and streaming days or weeks later when advertisers pay far less for eyeballs, networks have been loading their schedules with sports events and awards shows, both of which have to be watched live.

    Football used to be on Sunday, with one Monday game. Now it’s on all the time. It’s not special anymore. The networks are burning out their audience.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  44. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “I will still be the only white dude on my block, living it, not just talking about it.”

    Do you tell your neighbors you are the Most Persecuted Minority in America, or do you save that for here?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  45. AndrewBW says:

    First Amendment? We don’t need no stinking First Amendment!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. An Interested Party says:

    If you aren’t disgusted that this deranged freak is hostile toward athletes practicing their 1st Amendment rights but is magnanimous toward racist trolls and punks, well, what does that say about you and your values…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  47. MBunge says:

    @Mikey: This is about the President trying to influence a private organization

    Ye gods. It’s a big mouth trying to score points with his audience by saying something they agree with, an opinion that is all but officially banned from the rest of the media.

    And are you HONESTLY stating that you’ve never heard or seen a President try to influence a private organization before? Want to put any money on whether it’s happened or not?

    By the way, how bothered were you by Ross Douthat’s traitorous proposal to remove Trump from office?

    Mike

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 18

  48. Mikey says:

    @MBunge: Ross who?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  49. Mikey says:

    @MBunge:

    And are you HONESTLY stating that you’ve never heard or seen a President try to influence a private organization before?

    Of course that’s nowhere near anything I said. Just another in your planet of strawmen, the population of which exceeds that of Earth.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  50. Daryl's other brother, Daryll says:

    I am hereby copyrighting:
    “We are all sons-of-bitches now!!!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  51. Daryl's other brother, Daryll says:

    Jamelle Hill has bigger balls than James Pearce and Mike Bunge, combined.
    Just sayin’…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  52. Daryl's other brother, Daryll says:

    Colin Kaeoernuck, Stephen Curry, Lebron James, and Jamelle Hill all earned what they have.
    Donald Trump was given what he has by his daddy and Vladimir Putin.
    And James Pearce and Mike Bunge are clear about what they respect more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  53. Mister Bluster says:

    Donald Trump has been a son of a bitch for a long time.
    If he’s going to dish it out he better be ready to take it!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  54. Terrye Cravens says:

    The truth is it is none of Trump’s business if an athlete kneels during the national anthem. He has no right to demand any kind of fealty for himself or the flag.

    He took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. I suggest he go read it. He obviously does not know what it says.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  55. Joe says:

    I’m guessing your headline was meant to be untrue…? The players are not protected by the 1st Amendment for actions they take at work.

    You also inferred that the protests of players could not be directly tied to the protests. All polls of viewership that ask about people tuning out cite the protests as their main reason. While it isn’t scientific, it certainly makes sense.

    I think it’s important to note that the NFL shoulders much of the blame for this fiasco. When you don’t stop players from making black power salutes and kneeling during the anthem yet threaten to fine players for wearing stickers on their helmets in remembrance of assassinated cops you deserve the continued drop in viewership and attendance.

    You would think someone at the NFL would understand that alienating your fanbase is a bad idea yet the NFL has been doing it for years and still continues, they’re now considering a player request for a ‘month of activism.’

    Sunday is a big day for the NFL…I never watch but I’m interested in seeing what the fallout will be tomorrow.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 17

  56. Andre Kenji says:

    The politicization of the NFL began when they decided to play the National Anthem before the games. It makes no sense at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  57. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Joe: Of course their first amendment rights are protected at work! That is absurd. If the NFL had some rule that stated they had to stand for the anthem at work, then there might be grounds to fire them. But there is no such rule.

    Trump is just trying to exploit white grievance. No matter how bad a situation is, we can count on Donald to make it worse. For his own reasons.

    As for alienating the fan base…there are black fans too. They might actually appreciate or even support what these players are doing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  58. al-Ameda says:

    @MBunge:

    Your protests and hysteria didn’t save Obamacare. It was saved because a bunch of Republicans were never serious about getting rid of it.

    (1) I presume that that “bunch” you’re talking about is/are the 3 – that’s right, 3 – Republican senators out of the 52 Republican senators, who declined to support legislation that many other Republican senators described as terrible. Three Republicans – Graham, Heller and Flake – thought the recent bill was terrible and then voted for it anyway.

    (2) Those 3 senators were never serious about getting rid of ACA because they are in fact very serious about health care, something that the Republican “Repeal and Replace” crew is most definitely NOT serious about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  59. rachel says:

    @Terrye Cravens:

    I suggest he go read it.

    There’s a problem with that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  60. Lynn says:

    “Guess I’m a proud b*tch,” said Ms. Kaepernick, who is white and is Colin Kaepernick’s adopted mother.

    https://www.rawstory.com/2017/09/colin-kaepernicks-mom-responds-to-trump-guess-that-makes-me-a-proud-btch/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  61. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    Well, someone finally said “Yes, I am,” and he lives in the White House.

    Perfect. And now we get down to your real belief which is that racists are racists because people like me call them racists. If only we’d all shut up on the Left and stop calling racists racists there’d be no racists.

    It’s like if someone calls you a rapist, hey, what choice do you have? Gotta go out and rape someone, right?

    If someone calls you a pedophile you have to download kiddie porn, right?

    So, in Pearce world the problem is not that racists, rapists and pedos exist, the problem is the exposing of same. “Stop accurately describing me or I’ll have no choice but to prove the accuracy of your description!” And the Pearce corollary, “The only way to deal with racists is to pretend they aren’t racist.”

    Well, no Pearce, we’re not going to join your little fantasy world any more than we’re going to join @MBunge’s cult. You want to stick your head in the sand and yell ‘la la la’ real loud over the sounds of Nazis marching and cops shooting.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  62. Modulo Myself says:

    Respecting the flag during the National Anthem: “Tom Brady is a f—-t b–ch who sucks f—ing c–k.”

    Disrespecting the flag:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  63. Modulo Myself says:

    Disrespecting the flag: kneels in silence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  64. gVOR08 says:

    Yesterday, on another thread, I quoted Timothy Snyder in On Tyranny. The fourth of his twenty rules is “Take responsibility for the face of the world.” He quotes Vaclav Havel on a grocer acceding to a Communist Party request that he put a sign, “Workers of the World Unite” in his shop window. The grocer does, not because he agrees, but because he wants to get on with life in peace.

    As Havel put it:
    We have seen that the real meaning of the greengrocer’s slogan has nothing to do with what the text of the slogan actually says. Even so, the real meaning is quite clear and generally comprehensible because the code is so familiar: the greengrocer declares his loyalty in the only way the regime is capable of hearing; that is, by accepting the prescribed ritual, by accepting appearances as reality, by accepting the given rules of the game, thus making it possible for the game to go on, for it to exist in the first place.
    And what happens, asked Havel, if no one plays the game?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  65. Joe says:

    @Joe:

    So, by the way, I am the Joe who has been posting here for a few years and the @Joe I am replying to is not the same guy. I know I am not the only guy in the world named Joe, and I don’t know what the rules are here. If new-@Joe keeps showing up, I will consider a name upgrade.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  66. Paul Hooson says:

    Who better than millionaire football players to present a credible case against injustice, however with Mr Trump being so divisive, more and more Americans are using their democratic and constitutional rights to protest part of what Mr. Trump represents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  67. Franklin says:

    @Paul Hooson: I understand your point, but they are using their good fortune of having an audience to stand for those who do not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  68. David M says:

    @MBunge:

    Trump is the one who probably saved DACA from being overturned in court.

    You do realize that Trump took action to make sure DACA was ended. Trump took something that you term “probably would be overturned**”, and definitely ended it. WTF? We’re supposed to be thankful DACA was ended when it didn’t have to be? The mental gymnastics required to lick Trumps boots

    **not a universally accepted view

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  69. teve tory says:

    Who better than millionaire football players to present a credible case against injustice,

    Uh, they are on national tv, and it’s all anyone’s talking about right now, so perhaps they were the exact right people to do it? Just a thought.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  70. Tyrell says:

    I was raised on watching the Yankees, Packers, Redskins, Browns, Bears, Dodgers, Celtics, Lakers, and other great teams on television. I saw several baseball Hall of Farmers play in Atlanta. We did not have sports “networks” back then, Games were usually shown only on Saturday and Sundays. They did not go on until midnight. That was the “golden age” for many sports.
    Pro sports lost me some time ago. There are too many games on tv, games are too long, players are paid salaries that boggle the mind, wealthy owners beg for tax money to help build and rebuild their stadiums (and charge a fortune to attend a game), and all the politics and other issues that have crept in.
    Now this anthem thing (which many NFL owners have opposed – see Jerry Jones)
    I was raised on watching the Yankees, Packers, Bears, Dodgers, and Celtics on television. I saw several Hall of Farmers in Atlanta.
    I also spent many hot, dusty summer Sunday afternoons at the NASCAR tracks in the south: Atlanta, Rockingham, Darlington, Charlotte, Bristol, and North Wilkesboro. (I was young, wasn’t exactly thinking smart – maybeit was the heat down here)
    The NASCAR team owners have a different take on these anthem “protests”
    Richard (the King) Petty – would fire employees who did that.
    Another owner said that any employee that did not stand for the anthem can “get you a ride home on a Greyhound bus”
    Pittsburgh Steelers’ Alejandro Villanueva jerseys are selling out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  71. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    The NASCAR team owners have a different take on these anthem “protests”
    Richard (the King) Petty – would fire employees who did that.
    Another owner said that any employee that did not stand for the anthem can “get you a ride home on a Greyhound bus”

    Well, it is shocking that NASCAR team owners would have that attitude toward Anthem protesters. Especially in The South where an entire region decided to secede from the Union that they so demonstrably venerate now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  72. Mister Bluster says:

    Tweet Tweet

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. ✔ @DaleJr
    All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests
    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK

    Good for this guy!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  73. Paul Hooson says:

    @Franklin: I appreciate anyone, including millionaire football players, helping to make our nation more just and fair. – I’m Jewish, and in the last few days was a victim of a hate crime where both of my small dogs were deliberately murdered with rat poison thrown in the yard while they played as a bias crime against me. Both dogs suffered horrible deaths as they bled to death and their lungs and kidneys filled with blood.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  74. teve tory says:

    whatever black people do to protest is always considered the wrong thing. If they’re loud, it’s wrong, if it’s quiet, it’s wrong, if they stand still, it’s wrong, if they move, it’s wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  75. teve tory says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Well, it is shocking that NASCAR team owners would have that attitude toward Anthem protesters. Especially in The South where an entire region decided to secede from the Union that they so demonstrably venerate now.

    Seen that cartoon of the guy with all the confederate flags on his truck yelling that the black person is disrespecting the American flag? That’s basically where I live.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  76. Tony W says:

    I’m thinking I can score some free season tickets to the Seahawks out of all this – and the best part, it will be a Republican-Free-Zone!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  77. Mikey says:

    @teve tory:

    all the confederate flags on his truck

    That’s what gets me–people who blather on about disrespecting the American flag as they fly the flag of what was, depending on one’s perspective, either an enemy nation or a treasonous rebellion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  78. Tyrell says:

    @al-Ameda: Yes, and I remember very well the infields at these tracks. Packed, lots of grills fired up, beer by the cases, and lots of flags: US, Confederate, and favorite car numbers – 43, 22, 3, 28, 41, 13, 21, 27, 98. Loud, and hot.
    Richard Petty – still the king! And will be back next year with a new sponsor and driver.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2