Bruce Maxwell, a catcher for the Oakland Athletics, became the first MLB player to take a knee during the national anthem.
But rather than citing the protest of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Maxwell said in a statement that his action was in response to Donald Trump’s remarks about anthem protesters (the president called on owners to fire or suspend players who disrespect the flag).
Maxwell claims it’s a free-speech issue for all Americans.
Maxwell dropped to a knee just outside Oakland’s dugout on Saturday before a game against the Texas Rangers, adopting a protest started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in response to police treatment of blacks. Maxwell’s teammates stood in a line next to him. Teammate Mark Canha, who is white, put his right hand on one of Maxwell’s shoulders.
The Athletics released a statement on Twitter shortly after the anthem, saying they “respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression” and “pride ourselves on being inclusive.”
Major League Baseball also issued a statement, saying it has “a longstanding tradition of honoring our nation prior to the start of our games” but that “we also respect that each of our players is an individual with his own background, perspectives and opinions.”
Maxwell’s protest comes after President Donald Trump denounced protests by NFL players and rescinded a White House invitation for NBA champion Stephen Curry in a two-day rant that targeted top professional athletes.
“That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said of kneeling through the anthem. He added, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired.”
League executives and star players alike condemned Trump’s words on Saturday, and Maxwell predicted on Twitter that athletes would begin kneeling in other sports following “comments like that coming from our president.”
A few hours later, he followed through.
“This now has gone from just a BlackLives Matter topic to just complete inequality of any man or woman that wants to stand for Their rights!” Maxwell wrote.
Maxwell was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, while his father was stationed there in the Army. He later moved to Alabama, where he attended high school and college. Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told The Associated Press that “the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable.”
“Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.
Whether Maxwell is a patriot or not is hardly the point. He has adopted a protest started by someone whose hysterical, exaggerated, over-the-top reason is hardly patriotic at all.
Let us recall the explanation of Colin Kaepernick for his protest.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The government of the United States does not “oppress” black people. If they are, they’re doing a piss-poor job of it.
An oppressive government wouldn’t dole out hundreds of billions of dollars a year to feed, clothe, house, and educate those that they are trying to “oppress.” A government trying to “oppress” blacks wouldn’t pass dozens of laws designed to guarantee their rights. A government trying to “oppress” blacks wouldn’t create federal agencies like the EEOC and establish departments within the government devoted solely and exclusively to protecting the rights of blacks and other minorities. If the government was trying to “oppress” blacks, we wouldn’t have an independent Supreme Court that has handed down dozens and dozens of rulings that make it illegal to discriminate by race, that guarantee equal access to everything, and that have tilted the playing field in education, business, and employment, making it easier (if not guaranteed) for blacks to succeed.
“Oppression” is a loaded word. And it insults those around the world who truly are oppressed. If you stand up in America and say you’re “oppressed,” you are feted from one end of the country to the other. You are lionized in the media. And while you’re liable to get some pushback from people who disagree with you, the upside far exceeds any annoying opposition you might get.
But let’s try the same thing in North Korea. If you stand up and say you’re oppressed in Kim Jong-un’s workers’ paradise, you are likely to be taken out and summarily shot. That is real oppression, not the fake political construct advanced by Kaepernick and other racialists who use the term to generate white guilt and get attention.
Is that what Maxwell wants to associate himself with? If he truly is making a statement on free speech, he should have found another way to express his feelings. No true patriot would use the flag — which, of course, is what the anthem is all about — to imitate a protest made by the likes of Colin Kaepernick.
All he’s doing is codifying the protest begun by a radical racialist whose disrespect for the flag will now likely spread to all professional sports.