Make no mistake, football players who express their grievances by disrespecting the flag and the national anthem, and therefore the nation that is responsible for their freedom and their riches, should be fired.
It’s one thing to protest against a problem. It’s another thing to reject the nation. What we are seeing today would not have been tolerated at any previous point in our nation’s history, prior to say, the last 20 years. The culture has indeed reached a very sad and frightening new low. It’s remarkable that so few in football are standing, literally, against this.
Can the kneelers be fired? Would it mean the end of the NFL? Maybe. Or maybe not. Start firing them slowly, one by one, and the others may just decide their money is more precious to them than their principles.
The NFL may be finished anyway. A significant chunk of its fan base is deeply patriotic and know they have other options. Baseball is still going, hockey and basketball are about to get underway, and there’s always college football.
But President Trump ought to stay out of football and the actions of its players. Trump is the government, and America doesn’t need the government attacking free speech. Whatever one thinks of a football player kneeling during the national anthem, it is speech, and I don’t want Trump telling people what they can say any more than I would Obama. It’s pretty ironic to be criticizing people for disrespecting the republic while at the same time trying to squelch one of its founding principles, free speech.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s comment that football players “can do free speech on their own time” is Orwellian. “This is about respect for the military and the first responders in the country,” he declared. Well, as much as I love and respect the military and first responders, I recognize that you are allowed not to respect them. And I don’t think it’s about that anyway. Our flag is not there to represent the military or first responders, it represents the entire nation and our principles.
And I’ll be damned if I’m going to have the treasury secretary define free speech for me.
That doesn’t mean corporations, like the NFL or its franchises, have to tolerate this behavior. You can’t say or do anything you want at work. Companies are private entities that have a right to decide whom they employ, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to work for them. But the government should stay out of it.
Here’s a random sampling by Fox News of fans who say they like football too much to stop watching.