Five days ago, no one would have guessed that the most pressing issue in the national conversation would be the ten minutes before every NFL game started. But due to President Donald Trump’s vulgar, Friday night call out of Colin Kaepernick, NFL players kneeling for the national anthem has been at the forefront of American politics.
Trump spent his Sunday and Monday effectively ordering NFL players, the majority of whom are Black, to stand for the national anthem, frustrated and angry at those who knelt down to protest police brutality and injustice.
In the last game of the NFL weekend, the Dallas Cowboys all linked arms and knelt down in advance of the anthem, before rising to stand.
This morning, Trump deemed that an acceptable protest.
Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard. Great anger— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
But while Dallas dropped to its knees as a team, they all stood up for our National Anthem. Big progress being made-we all love our country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
At issue is whether the president has a right to dictate when and how private citizens can and should protest injustice. On Sunday, Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin said NFL players should “do free speech” on their own time. In her press briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said NFL players should not use the American flag to make their case.
The next NFL game is on Thursday, when the Chicago Bears take on the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay’s quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, posted an Instagram before Sunday’s games in support of the protest.
Update 12:02pm CT, Sept. 25: Later in the morning, Trump continued his tirade against NFL players taking a knee for the anthem, tweeting that the NFL should change its laws to prevent the behavior.
The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can't kneel during our National Anthem!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017