The exact wording that Donald Trump chose to describe his disgust at NFL players choosing to kneel during the national anthem at games, was “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field.’” The President of the UnitedStates said this at a rally in Alabama, reigniting protests that first began with former 49ERS Quarterback Colin Kaepernick in August 2016. Athletes from all over the world banded together once more to express their own disgust at Trump’s words.
Kaepernick, who was terminated from the team as a result of his choice to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in America back in 2016, had one simple message for America “[I’m] not going to stand up and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour”. Kaepernick’s central opinion of wanting to stand for those who don’t have a voice has been ignored in favour of people trying to make this all about the US Army and patriotism.
Other athletes from different sports began to support Kaepernick in his protests, with athletes with an extremely large following like basketball player, Stephen Curry who went so far as to decline his invitation to the White House due to President Trump’s comments. This obviously led to an extensive twitter rampage from the latter, something that has become a staple in everyday society. Trump’s desperation to live his glory days of The Apprentice with his repetition of “You’re fired” echoing throughout most of his tweets and speeches in the past week or so is perhaps a vain attempt to reconnect with the American public, or conversely, and maybe even worse, is a normal piece of his vocabulary.
The roaring temptation to make this article all about Trump is deafening. But it continues to distract from Kaepernick’s central meaning behind his original protest. Simultaneously, it’s another example of Trumps repetitive distractions from the real issues as he attempts to claw and cling onto the supporters he has left by appealing to their sense of racism. This may simply be another case of Donald Trump not realising the impact of his words, not realising the platform that he has in his position, because, lets be honest, he was never really qualified for it in the first place.
The mere gall that it takes for him to realise that there are children looking up at him in his presidency, not realising or being able to acknowledge why he says the things he does. The original meaning behind ‘taking a knee’ during the national anthem has been misconstrued, and it has to be our main goal to not let people erase it in favour of another Trump hate piece. I do definitely hate Trump, but it’s not what it’s all about. That being said, you would hope that he might learn a lesson, or maybe someone within the White House would have the stomach to let him know that what he’s doing could be misconstrued as racist. Calling NFL owners to arms and making an overreaching statement, regarding how NFL owners are afraid, led to people who originally supported Donald Trump rescinding their previous comments praising him.
On a more positive note, despite Trump’s comments, there has been an 18 per cent increase to 58 per cent in Americans believing that people shouldn’t have to stand for the national anthem, according to a recent poll from Sky Sports. Coming from a British perspective looking in on the current culture and political climate in America, I was shocked at the realisation that schoolchildren are expected to stand for the pledge of allegiance every morning and sing the national anthem. And the fact that it’s not thought of as weird. I’m sure I’m not saying anything on the subject that hasn’t been said or broached before. What are they trying to prove by having millions of schoolchildren do this? Pledging allegiance to a country and a society that has every chance of treating them terribly? Blind allegiance to the President of the United States with no idea of the qualities and policies he stands for?
The strange indoctrination into American society is baffling to say the least, but the fact that they were raised having to do this makes the kneeling protests even more surprising. Trumps viewpoint on the matter is a simple one: stand in respect for the national anthem, stand in respect of the American Flag and their country. But how can these players stand for a flag that doesn’t represent them? Stand in respect of a man who has shown sympathetic tendencies to the Klu Klux Klan? A man who refused to denounce white supremacists in fear of losing his key demographic? That was a lot of rhetorical questions but you can understand why there are so many.
Because that’s all he has to offer in the end. His supporters are white men and women who are never going to denounce what he has to say until it starts affecting them. The players of the NFL are trying to let you know now that they aren’t going to stand for what he says and does. Literally. They’ve already been experiencing the effects of people like him for lifetimes now and it’s ridiculous they’re still expected to.