After continued displays of disrespect to our nation’s anthem and flag by NFL players, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to convey his anger and told NFL owners that they should fire players who refuse to honor our nation.
The president saved his most scathing words for a rally in Alabama, where he referred to any protesting NFL player as a “son of a b**ch.”
NFL players responded to the president’s criticism by engaging in wider spread protests this past weekend which, in some cases, included team owners taking to the field to participate and some teams not taking the field for the playing of the national anthem at all.
It also caused many on the left to accuse those who are angered by the on-field protests by predominantly black players as engaging in a thinly veiled form of racism, which they also contend is the real reason Colin Kaepernick wasn’t signed by an NFL team this season. Take this headline from Rolling Stone, for instance:
And Huffington Post:
However, these assertions are at odds with the facts.
Desecrating or disrespecting the American flag, the symbol of our nation, has never been popular with the American public, no matter what the cause.
According to a 1999 Congressional Quarterly Research Report on patriotism in America, polling indicated that 70% of Americans disagreed with federal court rulings that overturned protections for the U.S. flag as a violation of the First Amendment. Further, they thought that the American flag should be exempt from free speech protections normally afforded to protestors.
Those rulings were made in 1989 and 1990, and the polling was conducted shortly thereafter. So, over 70% of Americans believed that the American flag should be protected from desecration and disrespect over 25 years before the NFL protests took place — and at a time when the flag was used as a protest symbol against U.S. involvement in wars, not civil rights or racial discrimination.
As such, I think it is safe to say that the manner in which Colin Kaepernick and now many other NFL players have chosen to protest has never been popular with the American public, and that patriotism is the real reason Kaepernick isn’t on the field this season.