President Barack Obama praises Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the the national anthem at football games, saying that the 49ers quarterback is protesting “real legitimate issues.”
“My understanding, at least, is he is exercising his constitutional right to make a statement, I think there is a long history of sports figures doing so,” Obama said, when asked about Kapernick’s protest.
Obama made his remarks during a press conference in China at the G-20 world leader’s summit.
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Obama admitted that it was “tough thing” for people to see Kaepernick disrespect the flag and the people that served in the military, but then he defended it.
“I don’t doubt his sincerity, based on what I’ve heard,” Obama said. “I think he cares about some real legitimate issues that have to be talked about. If nothing else what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation about some topics that need to be talked about.”
Obama cited his preference for an “active citizenry” rather than Americans sitting on the sidelines.
“Sometimes that’s messy and controversial and it gets people angry and frustrated,” he said. “But I’d rather have young people that are engaged with the argument and trying to think through how they can be part of our democratic process than people that are just sitting on the sidelines and not paying attention at all.”
Obama appeared optimistic that Kaepernick would likely “refine” his thinking about his protest, allowing critics of his position to see his side of he issue.
“Maybe his critics will start seeing that he has a point around certain concerns about justice and equality and that’s how we move forward,” he said. “Sometimes it’s messy but that’s how democracy works.”