The president and vice president have taken it upon themselves to be the personal arbiters of what should and what shouldn’t be considered free speech, and they were proud to take it upon themselves to put this belligerence on display on the occasion of Sunday’s NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers.
As is well known by now, numerous football players have decided to take a knee during the national anthem at games as a peaceful protest on behalf of African Americans.
Many on the right, the president and vice president included, have ignored the legitimate issue of the plight of African Americans and have instead chosen to cast taking a knee during the anthem as disrespectful to current and former members of the Armed Forces who have “fought for the flag” — even though, as numerous service members have pointed out, they didn’t fight for a piece of cloth, they fought for the freedom of the people of the U.S.
On Sunday, Vice President Pence attended a game between the Colts and the 49ers, the 49ers being the very team wherein the “take a knee” protest was first popularized thanks to their now former quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
After a dozen or so players on the 49ers knelt during the pre-game anthem, VP Pence made a somewhat unsurprising big show of himself leaving the game.
Even though, as mentioned, it’s not as though kneeling during the anthem means that one harbors any ill will towards members, either current or former, of the Armed Forces, VP Pence said in a statement upon leaving the game that neither he nor the president will “dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”
‘At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation… now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem.’
What Pence suggests, in short, is that free speech and the human rights of African Americans and other minorities should be cast to the wayside in favor of a Nazi-esque, nationalistic “unity.”
The president kicked this whole controversy off at a rally for the now failed Senate campaign of Republican Luther Strange, when he declared that the “sons of bitches” who sit out the anthem should be fired. He has kept up his campaign against the NFL since then, even in the face of pressing issues like the massive Hurricane Maria having hit the island of Puerto Rico.
As multiple media personalities suggested, VP Pence’s departure from the game was no doubt “planned in advance.” CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski commented that the vice president “isn’t dumb and knew players would be kneeling.”
The game Pence was attending is meant to be the last in which former quarterback Peyton Manning’s No. 18 jersey was worn.
The vice president, according to journalist Chad Pegram, met with Manning before leaving the game on Sunday.
Featured Image via Ethan Miller/ Getty Images