Somehow, in a world where large numbers of people face continued threats to their lives and livelihoods, U.S. President Donald Trump and his allies have found it increasingly necessary to attack peaceful protesters who’ve made their voices heard during the national anthem at NFL games. Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who’s aiming to unseat Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate, earned this week the support of star basketball player LeBron James for his defense of those peaceful protesters.
In his original comments, captured on film and viewed millions upon millions of times, O’Rourke elevated those protesters and their forebears for their work to bring attention to real issues affecting the lives of Americans.
He said, in part:
‘The freedoms that we have were purchased not just be those in uniform, and they definitely were, but also by those who took their lives into their hands… [those who engaged in] peaceful, non-violent protests — including taking a knee at a football game to point out that black men, unarmed, black teenagers, unarmed, and black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now, including by law enforcement, without accountability, and without justice.’
After reiterating that the protests in question, which involve NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem, have nothing to do with the flag or the anthem but instead are over real, acutely relevant issues that aren’t going to be resolved on their own, O’Rourke added:
‘I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up — or take a knee — for your rights, any time, anywhere, any place.’
‘I can think of nothing more American.’ — Beto O’Rourke — the man taking on Ted Cruz — brilliantly explains why NFL players kneeling during the anthem is not disrespectful pic.twitter.com/bEqOAYpxEL
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) August 21, 2018
Posting a copy of the video to his Twitter feed, James commented:
‘A Must Watch!!! Salute Beto O’Rourke for the candid thoughtful words!’
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 23, 2018
James has been in the news a lot recently. He appeared on CNN to promote a new innovative public school he’s helping fund in Akron, Ohio, and in the process derided Donald Trump’s attempts to use sports to sow division. Trump couldn’t just let it go, angrily taking to Twitter and proving James’ assertion about him being keen on spreading division in the process.
He spouted off:
‘LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!’
He’s attacked players choosing to bring attention to the plight of black Americans time and time again. At a rally late last year, he called them “sons of bitches” who should be fired. He’s gone so far that he incorporated a reference to the scandal into his State of the Union address delivered earlier this year.
O’Rourke’s opponent — the widely despised Ted Cruz — supports the president’s position. At a campaign stop this past weekend, he told those assembled:
‘When Beto O’Rourke says he can’t think of anything more American, well I got to tell you, I can.’
According to a Texas news source, the incumbent U.S. Senator referenced current service members who salute the flag and stand at attention when the anthem is played on their base as somehow “more American.”
Whether O’Rourke will capitalize on his only increasing public support and turn it into an electoral victory remains to be seen. In the meantime, he’s mostly staying pretty close behind Cruz — as in, within or close to a margin of error — in the polls.
Check out Twitter’s response to LeBron below.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot