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Guest Editorial: Trump's NFL comments threw gas on the fire
Nine months into the Trump presidency, it is clear that the president will regularly find ways to insert himself into almost any discussion, almost never for the betterment of civic discourse.
The controversy about some NFL players kneeling during the playing of the national anthem — starting a year ago with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — was a smoldering ember in the world of news. The focus of most NFL fans was on the new season. President Donald Trump, with his utter lack of impulse control, didn't just reignite the issue. He threw wood on the fire, doused it with gasoline and lit it with a flamethrower.
During a rally in Alabama, Trump didn't just complain about players kneeling during the national anthem. He specifically called upon owners to get rid of players who did and then basked in the applause he received like a conquering Roman emperor.
Bad move, Mr. President.
Trump's comments were disturbing not only in the context of somebody in his position attacking First Amendment rights, but also because they're another example of Trump continuing to play footsie with the worst elements of his base, racists and bigots.
In Charlottesville, Va., the president referred to some of the white supremacist protesters as "very fine people." In this incident, he referred to the kneeling players as "sons of bitches." That sends a loud-and-clear signal to those who want more acrimony among people in the United States, not less.
Trump's cynical attempt to divide the nation fell flat, as his never-ending case of foot-in-mouth disease only served to unite the NFL commissioner, NFL owners and players in solidarity against him. Before the start of the Cowboys' Monday Night Football contest against the Arizona Cardinals, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones showed solidarity with players, locking arms and kneeling before the onset of the national anthem.
Some people saw Kaepernick's move as one of disrespect, but many understood it to be an effective protest against police brutality perpetrated against people of color in the United States. The people who fought and died to protect our freedoms did so for all individuals. It is not a one-way street, and the U.S. president, of all people, should know better.
Trump's contemptible behavior is another example of his inability to fathom the responsibility, as well as the privilege, he has serving in the highest office in the land.
Railing against free speech and calling for the termination of NFL players might have worked as a reality TV host.
As president of the United States, he should be held to a much higher standard.
Dallas Morning News, Sept 26