Trump's disgusting war on the First Amendment took a new and ugly turn.
Proving once again that caving to a belligerent White House bully never works, Trump on Thursday responded to the NFL’s capitulation regarding new rules demanding players stand for the national anthem by upping the hate rhetoric and suggesting anyone who silently protests should be expelled from the country.
“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing. You shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country,” Trump told Fox News, which has helped fan the flames of his racist crusade against mostly black football players who peacefully protest police violence.
Trump’s latest attack on free speech comes one day after a U.S. district judge ruled that he cannot block critics from his Twitter account. “We readily conclude the speech in which individual plaintiffs seek to engage is protected speech,” the judge wrote.
Trump was responding to new NFL rules, which the owners voted on without consulting players. The rules require players who appear on the field for the pre-game playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” to stand. If they do not, their respective club faces a league-issued fine, and teams can levy additional penalties. (One owner has already said he’ll pay any such fines for his players who kneel.)
The move clearly represents a response to Trump’s culture war crusade where he has regularly attacked NFL players as being unpatriotic, and disrespecting the flag, when they silently kneel to raise consciousness about inequality and social justice.
Trump’s latest move represents a bizarre escalation from last year when he demanded NFL owners fire players who quietly took a knee on the sidelines. He devoted an obsessive amount of time to attacking black athletes for trying to raise awareness of police brutality against their communities. He did so at his State of the Union address, during conversations with the press, and on Twitter.
He even plotted an elaborate stunt with Mike Pence, sending him to a Colts game, only to walk out after the national anthem to protest the protesting players. That stunt cost taxpayers $242,500.
Trump defended his constant attacks on athletes by saying, “I have plenty of time on my hands.”
Polls last year showed sports fans wanted Trump to stop attacking the league and its players.
Trump’s outlandish claim only ensures that the controversy will continue to rage on, which is ironic because the NFL was clearly trying to clamp down on the movement with the new rules, and likely hoped to put the political storm behind them.
Not a chance.