News & Politics

Jeff Sessions Opines on NFL Kneeling Controversy

Jeff Sessions (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

With the NFL and the kneeling controversy dominating the news cycle, it’s not surprising that Trump administration officials would be asked to weigh in. Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered his thoughts on the brouhaha.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions weighed in Tuesday on the growing protests from NFL players during the national anthem before games, and President Trump’s controversial and explicit critique of those players.

“Well the president has free speech rights too,” he said during a question and answer period at Georgetown University Law Center.

“He sends soldiers out every day to defend this country under the flag of the United States under the national anthem and the unity that those symbols call on us to adhere to,” he added.

“So I agree that it is a big mistake to protest in that fashion,” Sessions continued. “Because it weakens the commitment we have to this nation that has provided us this freedom.”

“I would not that the players aren’t subject to any prosecution but if they take a provocative act,” he added, “they can expect to be condemned and the president has the right to condemn them, and I would condemn their actions, not them as a human being.”

“But I don’t think that was a good,” he concluded, “there are many ways these players with all the assets they have, can express their political views other than, in effect, denigrating the symbols of our nation.”

Unfortunately, I’m afraid many Americans are talking past one another at this point.

If you kneel, you hate America. If you don’t kneel or oppose kneeling, you’re racist.

Players have a God-given right to kneel in protest. They do have their First Amendment rights, after all. The only ones who can do anything to punish the players  are the owners and the league, and they don’t seem inclined to do so. After all, you have a right to speak freely, but not necessarily on your employer’s dime. A politically pretentious Starbucks barista has the right to opine on politics as well…but not to customers. It’s the same thing.

However, since owners don’t want to do anything, and the league refuses to do anything, that means it’s up to the public to do something.

No one is disagreeing that the players have free speech rights. What is upsetting people is how those rights are being used. No one is calling for prosecution, because that would be ridiculous. However, like the attorney general said, if you act in a way designed to be provocative, people will be provoked, and many Americans take the flag and the National Anthem seriously.

I understand why Colin Kaepernick knelt. I disagree, but I understand his reasoning.

Does anyone kneeling or supporting the kneelers give a flip about anyone else’s reasons for being upset?