President Donald Trump called out former 49ers quarterback Colin Kapernick and other NFL players on Friday for protesting the national anthem, expressing what millions of football fans have already registered by tuning out.
But NFL officialdom, Hollywood, the mainstream media, and left-wingers in all quarters have distorted what he said, to the point where entire teams felt obligated to protest — something.
Here are five bad arguments driving the hysteria.
1. Trump attacked freedom of speech. The First Amendment does not generally extend into a private workplace, any more than it gives me the right to come into your house and hector you with my opinions. No one has ever told Colin Kapernick or anyone else not to march in protest, attend a demonstration, or hold a sign on a sidewalk. What fans object to is that he is protesting on the clock. He has no right to do that, and Trump is correct that NFL owners — if they had any spine — ought to tell the protesting players to get lost. If you doubt that, try a thought experiment: what would happen to a player who wore a Nazi armband to opening lineups? What about his freedom of speech?
2. Trump launched a racist attack. This is the fashionable argument among the intellectually lazy and perpetually aggrieved. But there is nothing racist about objecting to the sort of behavior that is so radical that it is almost never done. Proof: the same NFL players who knelt for The Star-Spangled Banner at Sunday’s game in London stood for God Save the Queen, the anthem under which the British conducted the slave trade, along with colonialism and various other awful endeavors. The resort to claims of racism is the surest sign that Trump’s critics are clueless.
3. Trump used coarse language. Have you ever played, or even watched, any team sport? Also, what else is new?
4. Trump has more important things to worry about. Undoubtedly true — but then ask where the outrage was when President Barack Obama filled out his NCAA brackets on TV each year — or, for that matter, when he discussed the merits of Pitbull on live radio with a DJ called “Pimp with a Limp.” Unless you’re a Trump supporter worried that he is using the NFL dust-up to cover for his vacillation on DACA, this is not a valid complaint.
5. The protesters are the true patriots. Ask Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a U.S. Army veteran of three tours in Afghanistan, about how he found the courage to stand up to his entire locker room and walk out, hand over heart, for the national anthem at Soldier Field in Chicago. His team lost — deservedly so — but he will be remembered as the real winner of this day — not just for his stand on the field, but for his courage off it.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.