“You shouldn’t be there, maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
The NFL’s non-compromise over the national anthem means teams can be fined if their players fail to “stand and show respect” for the Star-Spangled Banner. The decision angered the NFL Players’ Union, created another obstacle for the league’s labor relations, and most importantly, challenged the very American ideal of an individual’s right to protest.
But it was a big win for U.S. President Donald Trump, who lauded the decision after lobbying against the league’s inability to police its players’ pregame activities. Then he took the NFL’s decision to its next logical level; getting players who kneel for the anthem out of the country.
President @realDonaldTrump: “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.” https://t.co/syjhxsoPzO @foxandfriends pic.twitter.com/60ai9J0GqH
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 24, 2018
“I think it’s good,” Trump told Fox News Thursday. “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.
”The NFL owners have done the right thing … [Penalizing players for taking a knee during the anthem is] something that ideally could have been taken care of when it first started, that would have been a lot easier, but if they did that, they’re doing the right thing.”
Trump also touched on the rule that will allow players who don’t want to take the field for the pregame rendition Star-Spangled Banner, suggesting he doesn’t “think people should be staying in locker rooms” instead of showing respect to the flag.
Vice President Mike Pence, who famously wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money just to walk out of a Colts game due to the massive offense he took to kneeling 49ers players last fall, was more concise in his response. Here he is quoting a famous drug addict’s meme from 2011.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 23, 2018
Of course, it’s not a total win. Players will now be permitted to blank the anthem entirely by choosing to stay in the locker room before their games. Each franchise will also have the autonomy to write its own rules on anthem policy, though the league will retain overarching control on these disciplinary issues.
Even so, the league’s approach has been called a heavy-handed blast to address an issue with no easy solution. The league’s most recent effort created another talking point which landed right in Trump’s wheelhouse. On Thursday, Trump took that opportunity and talked to Fox News to suggest anyone protesting during the Star-Spangled Banner has no place in America.