To listen to the right talk, it is unspeakably disrespectful to kneel during the national anthem. Period. End. Don’t do it. Don’t even think about doing it because they’ll know. It doesn’t matter that the football players doing this are protesting police brutality against African-Americans. It doesn’t matter that they have a good point to make, or that this is the peaceful protest that the right continually says we need. To those who think like Donald Trump and believe that patriotism is defined by how much you bow and scrape before a symbol, you just plain don’t kneel for the national anthem.
So Mike Pence, who flew to Indiana for the Colts-49ers game today, walked out because several players on the 49ers committed the gravely horrific sin of kneeling during the anthem. His tweet about it reads:
He didn’t stop there, either. This goes to demonstrate that Republicans in the highest positions in our land think worshiping a symbol is more important than standing up for the Constitution and maybe, just maybe taking a look at why they’re protesting:
But it may not have been entirely his choice. Per Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, Pence did this at least partly to keep his boss appeased. Or one of Trump’s most recent tweets of the day certainly makes it seem that way:
Trump has been adamant in his stance that all NFL players should stand for the anthem and find a completely different way to protest (i.e., just don’t). It’s one thing for regular civilians to condemn the NFL for this, but it’s quite another for the president to do it. In the interests of, you know, upholding and defending the Constitution as per the job he took, presidents and other government officials really need to refrain from pulling a Donald Trump on this.
Pence is totally cowed by Trump, too. He later tweeted a longer and more official statement on the situation, which comes across as a whole lot of bootlicking, rather than pretty much anything else.
A president and his staff, including the vice president, have limitations on them that the rest of us don’t have, because they’re the top defenders and upholders of our Constitution. This is basically the government trying to coerce or intimidate civilians over free exercise of their rights.
Featured image via Joe Raedle/Getty Images