Well, here we are again talking about athletes taking a knee in protest of how people of color are treated in this country and the exercising of free speech. The ante was just upped by Tangerine Mussolini, who called any athlete who kneels for the anthem “a son of a bitch,” and imploring team owners to fire these people and fans to boycott the NFL. And now his administration just released this garbage.
“They can do free speech on their own time[…] They have the right to have the First Amendment off the field.”
Now this administration wants to tell you that the first amendment only applies some of the time, and they get to tell you where you can and can’t exercise it. I’m not sure which is more alarming: that this is the white house’s stance toward our constitutional freedoms, or that their supporters are fine with the idea that government dictates how and when you can use those freedoms. But let’s take some of the common arguments about this issue and examine them a little more closely.
“They can do free speech on their own time.”
This is the most alarming aspect of all of this. Anyone can exercise their right to free speech whenever they want, and I’m pretty sure there are courts in this country that would agree with that. Living in a free country doesn’t mean you never have to hear speech you don’t like, and it certainly doesn’t mean everyone has to arrange their free speech when it’s convenient for you. That’s the price you pay for living in a free country.
“If I did this at my job I’d be fired, so I don’t see why players should get a free pass.”
You see this a lot on the comment section of articles on the topic (see, comment sections are stupid). Yes, someone should have to live with the consequences of their free speech…but that’s precisely why these athletes are doing it during the game, what makes it a more powerful statement: they’re willing to risk their whole career, in most cases their life’s work, for their convictions. If you take away all the stakes involved, then really there isn’t anything behind the statement.
“Standing for the anthem is about respecting those who served our country.”
Perhaps the most ironic statement of all. If that’s the case you want to make, I’d like to point out two things to you. First, our veterans gave their lives precisely to protect someone’s freedom to do exactly what these athletes are doing. Okay, got that? Second, there was an entire war fought because this precise scenario was happening. People fought in WWII to stop the spread of fascism. If anyone is disrespecting the sacrifice of the greatest generation, it’s the people who now openly embrace fascism in the US.
I’ve decided to coin a new term for Trump supporters. PINO–Patriots In Name Only. These are people who act like they love the country. They stand for a song and put a flag on the front porch, a bumper sticker on their truck. But their words and their actions betray people who actually care very little for freedom and American values. I don’t really know how else to describe people who think that “there are some very fine people” in Nazi marches and who support a government restricting your right to free speech. Who cheer a government that tries to destroy the free press. Who shrug off a foreign power interfering in our election system. Who don’t seem at all perturbed that the commander in chief and his administration are under investigation for treason and obstruction of justice.
I literally can’t think of anything less American or less patriotic.