President Donald Trump visited Alabama on Friday evening to attend a campaign rally for Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL). Strange currently holds the seat that was left vacant by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and is currently facing a run-off challenger in Judge Roy Moore.
During his remarks, President Trump took direct aim at the NFL over the national anthem protests sparked last season by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, saying:
“We're proud of our country. We respect our flag. Wouldn't you love to see one of our NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'Get that son of a b***h off the field right now ... he's fired!'”
First Son Donald Trump Jr. was all in favor:
Love this: @realDonaldTrump on NFL players disrespecting our flag/anthem: “get that son of a bitch off the field right now - YOU'RE FIRED!”
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 23, 2017
The backlash on Twitter came almost immediately, as people began to complain that President Trump was harder on Kaepernick than he was on world leaders who were considered enemies — Russia's Vladimir Putin, for example:
Trump a lot tougher on Colin Kaepernick than on Vladimir Putin. Protesting American anthem: bad. Subverting American democracy: no big deal.
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) September 23, 2017
You’re disgusting and so is he. Dissent is patriotic. Attacking someone for protesting is the most unamerican thing you could do.
— Calvin (@calvinstowell) September 23, 2017
President pressing employers to fire people for speech sounds very much like govt censorship - and violation of 1st amendment rights
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) September 23, 2017
“Get that son of a bitch off the field”- black man protesting racial injustice
“Very fine people”- white people demanding racial injustice
— Jared Rizzi (@JaredRizzi) September 23, 2017
Embattled ESPN host Jemele Hill weighed in as well:
Prediction: Not one NFL owner, not Roger Goodell will say one word about what he said about Kaep or other NFL players. Not. A. One. https://t.co/tBv3Q5FZHp
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 23, 2017
But what most failed to realize was that President Trump did not call for anyone to be fired — he simply asked a crowd of patriotic Americans how they would like to see a protest (which most of them consider disrespectful) handled.
And the NFL's ratings (along with ESPN's, for that matter) suggest the president may not be too far off the mark:
— Jali_Cat (@Jali_Cat) September 23, 2017