The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Editorial – Despite Trump, NFL players can protest

Illustration Aftin Gavin/The Collegian

Sept. 24 was an eventful day for the National Football League and, surprisingly, for President Donald Trump.

Dozens of football players, coaches and even team owners all took a knee during the national anthem, joining former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a silent, peaceful protest of unjust treatment of African-Americans in the country.

Kaepernick has received backlash from media and football fans since he began protesting during the national anthem last year.

Even though the president has the aftermath of natural disasters like Hurricane Maria to resolve, he managed to find time to publish over a dozen tweets about the NFL protests.

Trump seems to overlook the meaning of the NFL protests and is instead accusing players of disrespect. He profanely opposed protesting players during the national anthem at a Sept. 22 political rally in Alabama.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now,’” Trump said, indirectly referring to Kaepernick and other athletes participating in protest. “He’s fired. He’s fired!”

Trump also said kneeling was not acceptable in one of many NFL-related tweets Sept. 24 due to “disrespect of the flag.”

However, many Americans disrespect the flag daily, according to the U.S. Flag Code. Rules like “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery,” and “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform,” are broken often and without knowledge or concern.

Because of this and because of Trump’s lack of criticism for the Charlottesville white nationalist protest in August, many suggest the president’s objection to the NFL protests is about race, the very issue the protesters hope to bring to light.

The president rejected this idea.

“No, this has nothing to do with race. I’ve never said anything about race,” Trump said Sept. 24. “This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.”

Interestingly, Trump’s profane comments at the Sept. 22 Alabama rally contradict his tweets.

“Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy,” he said in a Jan. 22 tweet. “Even if I don’t always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.”

NFL players from teams such as the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, among many others all protested peacefully during their respectable Sunday games along with viewers protesting from home.

WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen said it best in a Sept. 26 on-air commentary defending the protesters.

“The young, black athletes are not disrespecting America or the military by taking a knee during the anthem. They are respecting the best thing about America. It’s a dog whistle to the racists among us to say otherwise,” Hansen said. “They, and all of us, should protest how black Americans are treated in this country, and if you don’t think white privilege is a fact, you don’t understand America.”

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides football players with the freedom to peacefully protest racism in the country just as it grants The Collegian the right to publish news as a free press.

As president of the United States, Donald Trump should know that.

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