Trump: If You Don’t Stand For The Anthem, Maybe You Should Leave The Country

President Trump's response to the N.F.L.'s new National Anthem policy is as narrow-minded and divisive as you'd expected it to be.

Responding for the first time publicly about the decision by the National Football League regarding whether players will be required to stand for the National Anthem in the upcoming season, President Trump responded just about as you’d expect him to:

President Donald Trump praised the NFL this week for its new rule requiring players on the field to stand for the national anthem, adding that perhaps those who protest during the anthem “shouldn’t be in the country.”

“I think that’s good. I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still, I think it’s good,” the president told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” in an interview that was taped Wednesday and aired Thursday morning. “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 turned the issue of players protesting during the anthem into a nationwide controversy last fall at an Alabama rally for then-Sen. Luther Strange, when he collectively called players who kneel during the anthem a “son of a bitch” and said they should be removed from the NFL.

Despite transforming the issue from a sports-page discussion to a new culture-war front, Trump said Wednesday that it was pressure from Americans, not just him, who forced the NFL to adopt its new policy.

“I think the people pushed it forward. This was not me. I brought it out. I think the people pushed it forward. This country’s very smart. We have very smart people,” the president said. “And, you know, that’s something ideally 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.”

Here’s the video of Trump’s remarks:

INSERT FOX NEWS TWEET

It would be easy to dismiss Trump’s comments that people who decline to stand for the anthem “shouldn’t be in the country” as hyperbole, but given the extent to which the President has exploited this issue mainly as a way to rile up his base, it seems clear that there’s more to it than that. No, that doesn’t mean that the President is going to try to deport people who decline to stand for the National Anthem, whether it’s at a football game or in some other forum. It was, after all, at a campaign speech in Alabama last year that Trump attacked players who knelt during the Anthem, referred to the players as “sons of bitches” and called on the league and/or the teams to fire or otherwise discipline players who don’t stand for the Anthem. In response, the league, the NFL Players Association, and pretty much all the team owners voiced support for the protesting players. Additionally, the weeks immediately after the President’s statement saw the kneeling protest expand as players of all races either knelt during the Anthem or engaged in some other form of showing solidarity with those players who chose to do so. It was during this period that Vice-President Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts game when some players knelt during the Anthem, in what was obviously a staged photo opportunity by the White House to further stir the pot. Given the fact that the 2017 N.F.L. season will be starting around the same time as the campaign season hits high gear for the midterms, it’s likely that the President will revisit this issue in September if not earlier.

If the immediate reaction to the new policy is any indication, it seems clear that the issue is not going to go away. New York Jets CEO and Chief Executive Christopher Johnson, the brother of Woody Johnson, who currently serves as American Ambassador to the United Kingdom, said late yesterday for example that he will pay for any fines imposed if any of his players choose to kneel or otherwise stage some sort of on-field protest during the Anthem and that his players would not be sanctioned by the team for any such protest. Additionally, Philadephia Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has been outspoken on this and other social justice issues facing the African-American community, issued a statement via his Twitter account said that he would not let the league’s decision to silence him and other players have issued similar statements. Additionally, other players are reportedly discussing other forms of protest that they could engage in to express both their support for players who choose to kneel and to protest the league’s policy.

The New York Times Editorial Board, meanwhile, admonished the N.F.L. for caving to the President on what is really nothing more than a silly culture war issue that the President is using to exploit racial division and hyper-patriotism:

Rather than show a little backbone themselves and support the right of athletes to protest peacefully, the league capitulated to a president who relishes demonizing black athletes. The owners voted Wednesday to fine teams whose players do not stand for the national anthem while they are on the field.

Let us hope that in keeping with the league’s pinched view of patriotism, the players choose to honor the letter but not the spirit of this insulting ban. It might be amusing, for example, to see the owners tied in knots by players who choose to abide by the injunction to “stand and show respect” — while holding black-gloved fists in the air. Or who choose to stand — while holding signs protesting police brutality. We look forward to many more meetings of fatootsed gazillionaires conducting many more votes on petty rules to ban creative new forms of player protest.

(…)

The president, smelling an issue sure to fire up his base, pounced. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired,'” Mr. Trump said at a political rally in September.

That riled up players, owners and fans on both sides of the question. Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence continued to stir outrage. More players knelt. More conservatives became incensed and threatened to boycott the league.

The fury that Mr. Trump ignited was so troubling that it brought players and team owners together in a meeting last October to discuss it.

“The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” Robert Kraft, the Patriots owner and a Trump supporter, said of the kneeling. “It’s divisive, and it’s horrible.”

The Times is, of course, absolutely correct here. As I noted yesterday, while the kneeling protests that had started in 2016 continued into the 2017 season, they had largely faded from public attention and were not at all disruptive of the game itself. Indeed, as many people have remarked, kneeling is arguably even more respectful than standing in any case. All of that changed after Trump threw gasoline on the fire and lit the match. In response to Trump’s remarks, the league, the NFL Players Association, and nearly all the team owners, many of whom were Trump supporters in the election, voiced support for the protesting players. Additionally, the reaction to the President’s statement had the seemingly paradoxical effect of seeing the kneeling protest expand as players of all races either knelt during the Anthem or engaged in some other form of showing solidarity with those players who chose to do so. It was during this period that Vice-President Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts game after some players knelt during the Anthem. It was obvious at the time that this was a pre-planned stunt, and that Pence went to the game fully intending to walk out while he knew reporters were following him. Several weeks later, the league announced that it would not discipline players who continued to kneel during the Anthem, and polling in both September and October showed that most Americans opposed the position taken by the President.

The league should have left it at that, or it should have changed the rule to where it stood before 2006 when the teams did not take the field until after the Anthem had been sung and shortly before the traditional pre-game coin toss. If that’s not acceptable, then they should just end the entire silly practice of playing the National Anthem before a game, but given how long-standing that tradition is it seems unlikely that we’ll see that day at any point in the near future. Instead, they have chosen to create more controversy and to give the President exactly what he wants, more fodder to fire up his base and stoke racial tensions right before the election. This isn’t going to end well.

 

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, First Amendment, Law and the Courts, Politicians, Popular Culture, Sports, U.S. Constitution, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    America: love it, OR ELSE!

    How long are you going to put up with this wannabe tin pot tyrant?




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  2. An Interested Party says:

    It’s a shame this douchebag won’t leave the country…perhaps once he finds out that he has criminal charges against him he’ll escape to Moscow to be with his buddy…in the meantime, the NFL is incredibly stupid to try to curry favor with this scum…obviously they don’t realize that he’s not going to have a long shelf life…




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  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @An Interested Party:

    the NFL is incredibly stupid to try to curry favor with this scumbag

    NFL owners are rich…Dennison gave them all huge tax breaks…and plenty of them are Trumpets.




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  4. James in Bremerton says:

    The tell, of course, is that anthems, flags and pledges do not appear in the U.S. Constitution, and to demand them, particularly as terms of employment, is fascism. The NFL now greatly extends their embarrassment as the players will most certainly sue, likely to claim unilateral action against the CBA.

    It’s a fine American tradition to scapegoat minorities for one’s ethical/business problems. The kneelers pose no actual threat. The NFL does not want to talk about the things that are actually eating them alive: competition from expanding online activities, concussion lawsuits, and the NFL’s inability to expand beyond the U.S. where soccer rules.

    Prior to 9/11, players were typically not on the field during the anthem, nor was it any kind of big deal. Then the NFL started taking pentagon money, turning the games into false, divisive glorified military celebrations where we’re free to call each other “enemy” for not standing tall enough or loud enough or whatever. A football game is often tacked on the end of that.

    Calling each other “enemies” is the chief symptom of the U.S. red/blue disease. It has always been a false argument.




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  5. CSK says:

    Well, he hasn’t built the wall, or deported all the brown folk, or repealed and replaced Obamacare (on Day One!), so he has to keep his base riled up about something, doesn’t he?




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  6. Yank says:

    the NFL is incredibly stupid to try to curry favor with this scum

    Yup.

    Trump always operates in bad faith. He already moved the goal-post to players kneeling, to players remaining in the locker room.

    This whole thing is about keeping the 30-33% die hard supporters on his side, because when Mueller drops the hammer and recommends impeachment, that 30-33% is going to be his buffer when it comes to the GOP controlled congress.




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  7. teve tory says:

    This whole thing is about keeping the 30-33% die hard supporters on his side, because when Mueller drops the hammer and recommends impeachment, that 30-33% is going to be his buffer when it comes to the GOP controlled congress.

    Mueller’s known for a while that Cohen was taking bribes to set up meetings etc. At some point in the next weeks and months details will come out about how some of that cash made its way to Donald, Ivanka, Jared, etc. That’s when watching the Trumpers tap dance is gonna get really fun.




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  8. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    If he were only riling up the base, we’d yawn, say “tisk-tisk,” and move on. But this kind of rhetoric is dangerous.

    Patriotism is pride in one’s country. America has a lot to be proud of, as do many other countries. But, like all countries, also many things to be ashamed of. Honesty, moral and intellectual, requires recognizing both. Integrity demands one acts to fix the latter.

    Trump’s base isn’t patriotic, but chauvinistic. It loves symbols more than what the symbols stand for, if they care at all for what they stand for at all. And they are aggressive and confrontational about it. It’s not enough that they love the flag, they must make everyone else love it too. Therefore the forced “respect” during the anthem, and the recitations of the pledge of allegiance (which I’ve always thought was weird, BTW).

    There’s a myth surrounding the Mexican American War concerning a group of Mexican army cadets at Chapultepec castle in Mexico City. The climax says a cadet, Juan Escutia, wrapped himself in the flag, literally, which stood on the roof of the castle, and threw himself to his death, as American soldiers were entering the fortress. He did this to protect the flag from the invaders.

    Now, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see how he intended to keep protecting the flag after he had died, or how the flag was worth more than his life, or even why someone was guarding the flag in the middle of a battle rather than fighting in it or even hiding somewhere in relative safety.

    And that’s how I feel every time people get worked up over symbols.

    Yes, a flag, and a national anthem, are powerful symbols of a country. All countries have these, and all should be treated with respect as a matter of course. But burning a US flag does nothing to damage the US constitution, nor does kneeling during the national anthem, any more than Escutia’s immolation did anything to help the Mexican position during that battle.




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  9. PJ says:

    @James in Bremerton:

    The tell, of course, is that anthems, flags and pledges do not appear in the U.S. Constitution, and to demand them, particularly as terms of employment, is fascism.

    I hear that Trump is planning to bring back the Bellamy salute.




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  10. Yank says:

    @teve tory: They are already tap dancing. These people are guilty of a ton of financial crimes. They know it, Mueller knows it, congress knows it etc. They are prepping for a political fight, not a legal one.

    Trump knows congress won’t touch him as long as he has the die hards, but if he drops from 30-33% to 20-25%, then he is done.




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  11. teve tory says:

    Oh we know he’s a criminal and his buddies are criminals. But when the details of the dollars moving into Dennison’s own bank accounts are out in public it’ll be more fun to watch the feeble, dumb denials.




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  12. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Someone needs to tell the Jehovas Witness folks that they are now un-American. They do not stand, they do not pledge, they do not celebrate political holidays…

    And the constitution is ok with that.

    Yep, expect a big class action NFL case.




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  13. Hal_10000 says:

    I’m include to set my Outrage-O-Meter low on this one. It sounds like the kind of off-the-cuff hyperbole a lot of people engage in. I wouldn’t notice it at all if the man weren’t President; they shouldn’t be engaging in this sort of silliness. But I don’t think he’ going to literally deport people who won’t stand for the flag.




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  14. James Pearce says:

    Black lives still matter.




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  15. I say let the blacks protest. Let NFL implode.

    After all, what is NFL about? It’s about BAMMAMA and ACOWW.

    BAMMAMA: Blacks are more muscular and more aggressive.

    ACOWW: Afro-Colonization of White Wombs.

    NFL is about black athletes dominating most fields and showing off black manhood. It is about whites reduced to benchwarmers. While black athletes get all glory and hump 100,000s of white women, white boys cheer on black male prowess. White male fans are nothing but cucks cheering for black manhood and black sexual conquest of white women.

    Evolution made blacks more muscular and more aggressive. And white women are getting jungle fever and regarded black men as the icon of manhood.

    There is nothing in football for whites except to be cucks cheering on superiority of black manhood over white manhood. Not for nothing do black guys call white guys ‘white boys’.

    Let NFL implode. Let blacks kneel and show their contempt for whitey.




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  16. michilines says:

    @James Pearce: Not enlightening, funny or insightful.

    You are smart enough to know what BLM means, and yet you, by just stating what you did, also know, like Trump, exactly what those few little words will mean.

    You have nothing of interest or importance to add to any political discussion.

    In a broader sense, it seems that the only lives that matter are those of people in power.




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  17. wr says:

    @Andrea Daley Utronebel: “Let blacks kneel and show their contempt for whitey.”

    If it’s all the same, I’d like to start out by showing my contempt for you.




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  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Andrea Daley Utronebel: That was….. entertaining anyway.




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  19. Lynn says:

    A brief quote from Andrea’s blog:

    “Now, there is a reason why the EU and North America have been nicer places. Until recently, EU was virtually all-white, populated by peoples with higher IQ(than world average), rich culture and history, and great achievement.”

    I think you can imagine what comes next.




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  20. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Andrea Daley Utronebel:

    Let NFL implode. Let blacks kneel and show their contempt for whitey.

    We may have finally found someone more racist than Florack.
    I did not think it was possible…




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  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Offered without comment; the featured headline from Andrea Daley Utronebel’s weblog…

    Just Say It is RACE-IST AND TRUE or R&T. Associate Race-ism with Truth.

    And here is a passage from another article entitled: Elementary Truth about Black Nature and Character — Evolution and the Negro — NFL and the Knee-Gro

    The main thing we need to understand about blacks is their reactions/responses tend to be brutally elementary. They evolved in close proximity with wild animals, and their mode of being is survival than existence, let alone the meaning of existence. Blacks don’t think, “To be or not to be, that is the question” or “I think, therefore I am.” They sense, “I be if I outrun a hippo, I not be if it done catch my ass and stomp me upside my head.” They feel, “I run(like a mothafuc*a), therefore I be.”
    For many thousands of yrs, white folks evolved in environments with reduced contacts with direct threats and dangers. So, there was more room for thinking and pondering. More space for security that favored a calmer disposition.
    In contrast, blacks evolved in a world of constant struggle for survival against lions, hyenas, baboons, buffaloes, elephants, crocodiles, hippos, warthogs, leopards, gorillas, cobras, mambas, tse-tse flies, and etc. And because this mode of survival made blacks savage and wild, it was aggravating for Negroes to rub shoulders with other Negroes.
    So, black emotions and responses tend to be very elemental and ill-suited for reflection, contemplation, introspection, empathy, and self-awareness. Wrapped tightly in their own egotism, blacks are rarely willing to consider other or opposing points of views. In order for blacks to have survived in harsh Africa, they had to obsess about numero uno or ‘my ass’. And such attitude also fueled a lascivious sexual culture that had black males and females calling most attention to themselves to attract the most mates. It’s no wonder that much of black dance forms have degenerated into stuff like bumping-and-grinding and ‘twerking’. In the black African world, survival depended more on fast-twitch reactions against threats and dangers. It was about instantaneous responses to ‘save my ass’ or ‘kick your ass’. Such emphasis on self-preservation led to self-centrism that, in social expression, came to be all about ‘muh bling’, ‘muh booty’, and ‘muh dick’.




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  22. James Pearce says:

    @michilines:

    Not enlightening, funny or insightful.

    And yet it’s still true.

    Sorry the protests went sideways, but I could have told you exactly how and why that was going to happen.




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  23. Mikey says:

    @Andrea Daley Utronebel: You’re a garbage human. Go away and never come back.




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  24. teve tory says:

    @Andrea Daley Utronebel: Dang, dude, how many MAGA hats do you own?




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  25. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    Sorry the protests went sideways, but I could have told you exactly how and why that was going to happen.

    They went sideways because Trump straight up lied and made up his own rationale for them. Trumpkin hate for the kneelers has literally nothing to do with the reason for why they are kneeling. It’s now about about “flag disrespect” like that was the intended point. It would be like working class Americans protesting them being forgotten by corporate and political America only for the narrative to be stolen and rewritten as “disrespectful takers insult middle class America with their demonstrations by not showing up for work like decent people”.

    It only works on people like you James – you and people like you who think the flag is somehow more sacred then the values it represents. I can think of no greater insult to the military that’s fought and died for the ideals of freedom then to have the freedom stripped away from it’s citizens and force loyalty to a piece of cloth.




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  26. KM says:

    @teve tory :
    They need a new one each night – it gets, ah, a little soiled after a visit with Rosie and her sisters……




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  27. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    They went sideways because Trump straight up lied and made up his own rationale for them.

    There is no scenario where Trump acts like a decent human being on this and doesn’t play it for maximum divisiveness.

    The reason the protest fizzled is that there is no direct connection between kneeling during the anthem and preventing unnecessary deaths from police shootings. So there was no chance — nil, zip, nada, zilch– that something useful on police violence would be the result.

    On the other hand, there is a direct connection between kneeling during the anthem and the “conspicuous patriotism” crap that has become so prevalent on the right, crap I don’t support by the way. The chances of pissing off the flag-wavers was 100%.

    So the protests didn’t work because they had no chance of achieving their intended results and inviting the backlash was guaranteed.




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  28. gVOR08 says:

    @James in Bremerton:

    Calling each other “enemies” is the chief symptom of the U.S. red/blue disease. It has always been a false argument.

    Agree completely, except for the, perhaps unintended, bothsides. Sure Ds do a little of this, but they don’t depend on finding and exploiting every cultural difference as their only means to get elected. And they don’t have a FOX News (sic), WSJ, Sinclair, Limbaugh, et al megaphone amplifying their culture war.




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  29. Mister Bluster says:

    Trump: If You Don’t Stand For The Anthem, Maybe You Should Leave The Country

    This is the stuff that sends Bungles, JKB and the other Trump Worshipers into Rapture.
    The hell with that. This is the United States of America.
    I have the right to stay in my country and work to rid it of the vile, authoritarian, race baiting goon that is the current occupant of the Oval Office.
    Never forget that it was Donald Trump who called for the assassination of Hillary Clinton during the Presidential campaign.

    I think that her bodyguards should disarm, right? Right? Think they should disarm. Immediately, what do you think? Yes? Yes. Yeah. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. Let’s see what happens to her.”
    Politico




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  30. al Ameda says:

    @Andrea Daley Utronebel:

    Evolution made blacks more muscular and more aggressive. And white women are getting jungle fever and regarded black men as the icon of manhood.

    There is nothing in football for whites except to be cucks cheering on superiority of black manhood over white manhood. Not for nothing do black guys call white guys ‘white boys’.

    Let NFL implode. Let blacks kneel and show their contempt for whitey.

    Kool Aid Time is up, your Black Helicopter is here. Please greet it.




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  31. Jax says:

    Ewww. I feel icky. Who let the racist troll in here?! @DougMataconis, cleanup on Aisle 7!!!




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  32. Yank says:

    The obsession that some of these Trump supporters have when it comes to black masculinity is bizarre too me.




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  33. Jax says:

    @Yank: I’ve noticed that. They feel very threatened, is my guess.




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  34. An Interested Party says:

    Of course that troll upthread is revolting, but I do wonder what role that race plays in all of this…the majority of NFL players are black while I would imagine that the majority of NFL fans are white…players like Kapernick can easily sympathize with innocent, unarmed black men being shot by cops, but certain fans who aren’t as personally touched by that issue perhaps don’t want to be reminded of it while watching a game…




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  35. Jax says:

    @An Interested Party: I would even go as far as saying they are offended by being reminded of it. How dare they bring that up during a game! It’s like how they get offended by people mentioning gun control after a mass shooting. “This is not the time”.




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  36. Lynn says:

    @An Interested Party: “players like Kapernick can easily sympathize with innocent, unarmed black men being shot by cops, but certain fans who aren’t as personally touched by that issue perhaps don’t want to be reminded of it while watching a game…”

    My guess is that they believe tht anyone shot by a cop brought it on himself … if he had just done what the cop said/been respectful/not lied/not committed a crime/etc. After all, I’ve always done those things, and I’ve never been shot by a cop. The fact tht I’m a little old white lady is irrelevant.




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  37. Tyrell says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: The NFL players are outstanding athletes – no doubt about that. They have been given the opportunity of a lifetime. I fully agree that anyone has the right not to stand, kneel, or sleep during the Anthem. But these players who are kneeling should be more grateful: look at what all they have: something that many Americans just dream of.
    No question that the NFL is in decline – for many reasons.
    Jerry Jones – what does he think about this?




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  38. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    You can show your contempt for this person by reporting its blog as hate speech (which is certainly is)

    Do that here

    using the URL “http://dailyandreaostrov.blogspot.com/”




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  39. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @KM:

    Truthfully, just ignore him. This whole “how much of a contrarian ass can I be today?” shtick has just gotten tedious.

    I’ll admit – whenever I’m scanning the comments, I completely ignore anything with his tag and keep scanning. Could be good content, could be bad, but either way I’m honestly just no longer inclined to invest the time in reading them. Were it possible to just block the content entirely, I would do so.




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  40. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Lynn:

    My guess is that they believe tht anyone shot by a cop brought it on himself

    You should see how those people tend to react when they’re, for example, stopped by an officer for speeding.

    It’s quite informative …




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  41. Mister Bluster says:

    @Lynn:..My guess is that they believe tht anyone shot by a cop brought it on himself…

    Stinkin’ bigots don’t care if the executed black man brought it on themselves or not.
    They just want the ni99er dead.




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