The long-running controversy involving NFL players choosing to take a knee during the national anthem has evidently attracted the attention of President Donald Trump. At a rally on Friday in Alabama to support Luther Strange’s candidacy in Tuesday’s US Senate primary, the president decided to show his contempt for those that would disrespect not just the nation, but the symbols that have promoted freedom and liberty since their creation.
The Bigger Picture
Whilst many in the leftist media will criticize President Trump for getting involved with something that is rightly a First Amendment (in this case the freedom of expression) issue, the wider picture is worth considering. The vast majority of the media support the actions of NFL players who engage in this act; they are lionized and lauded as heroes. But where is the alternative voice? Trump was elected because he spoke about the issues that the media wouldn’t touch or represent fairly, and this is yet another example.
At the rally in Huntsville, the president got the crowd riled up, beginning his tirade against elements in the NFL by saying “We’re proud of our country and we’re proud of our flag.” He said that players who “disrespect the flag” and kneel during the anthem should be thrown out of the stadium and dropped from the team:
“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’s fired.”
“Some owner is going to do that.”
He then went on to point out the fast-falling viewing figures for NFL. In recent months, viewership has dropped dramatically (especially on ESPN) due to the over-politicization of the game, which people presumably watch to escape from politics for a time. Defenders have tried to play down the sinking ratings by citing the changing habits of viewers due to online providers, but a recent survey revealed that one of the main reasons people have given up on the NFL is the players’ disrespect for the nation:
“One question in the survey of 1,423 adults conducted from May 3-7 was whether they detect a political bias in ESPN’s coverage. About 30 percent of the respondents said they detect bias; within that group, 63 percent said it’s a liberal bias while 30 percent said it’s a conservative bias. The remaining 7 percent said they detect bias but declined to categorize it one way or the other.”
But this was about more than just kneeling players. The president spoke at length about officials’ decisions and the general decline of the game. It was all about connecting with people in the audience. These are conversations that real people have with their friends in bars after games; they complain, they joke, and they set the world right. The president was showing Huntsville (and of course the world) that he is not an out-of-touch elite, but rather that most elusive animal in politics: Someone you would have a beer with.