Donald Trump has insisted repeatedly that the NFL protests during the National Anthem were disrespectful to veterans and that players should be legally forced to stand for the flag. While it is abundantly clear that Trump rarely knows what he’s talking about when he talks to reporters, he took this misunderstanding of the protests to a whole new level.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 8, 2018
While continuing to assert his ridiculous stance that the protests are disrespectful and unpatriotic, proving he has no real idea what the protests are about, Trump proved his cluelessness even further.
‘They’re not proud enough to stand for our national anthem, I don’t like that…I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that’s what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system.’
To be clear, the protests definitely are about people that have been treated unfairly. The legal justice system is definitely part of that unfair treatment and the higher incarceration rates and longer sentences for black Americans is part of the issue. It is not, however, why the protests began and pardons will not fix the central issue being protested.
NFL player and former teammate to Colin Kaepernick, who began the protests by first sitting and then taking a knee during the anthem at games, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times explaining the reasoning.
‘During preseason, my teammate Colin Kaepernick chose to sit on the bench during the national anthem to protest police brutality. To be honest, I didn’t notice at the time, and neither did the news media. It wasn’t until after our third preseason game on Aug. 26, 2016, that his protest gained national attention, and the backlash against him began.
‘That’s when my faith moved me to take action. I looked to James 2:17, which states, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” I knew I needed to stand up for what is right.’
The protests are about police brutality and a legal justice system that does too little to hold those sworn to protect and serve accountable, literally allowing them to get away with murder when their victim is black. There’s no doubt that pardoning black citizens who’ve been incarcerated for disproportionately long sentences that do not fit the crimes they committed would be a great thing for a president to be open to, pardons do not fix the problem protesters are trying to address.
Making his statement even more infuriating, Trump said that he wanted NFL players to recommend “friends of theirs or people that they know about” for pardons. Of course, every black man has friends in prison, because that’s just a given…except it isn’t. The protests are not about their friends and any belief that it is matches the ridiculous condemnation of NFL players by lawmakers like Ted Cruz who say that because these players are wealthy, they have nothing to protest.
Not only is Trump making a racist assumption with that statement, he’s ignoring the fact that, unlike him, many people protest issues that don’t affect them because of the injustices perpetrated against other people. We don’t all just fight for ourselves and ignore issues that may or may not ever affect us personally.
Trump would never understand this.
Featured image via Getty/Chip Somodevilla