The unexpected death of Miami Marlin pitcher José Fernández left the entire nation reeling in shock. However, a Florida lawmaker could not even wait a day before exploiting the tragic loss and turning it into an excuse to smear the athletes who are taking the knee during national anthem.
Almost an hour after the news of 24-year-old MLB star’s death surfaced, GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz took to Twitter to comment on the tragedy and sparked a massive backlash by using the incident to score a cheap political point.
Smearing the countrywide protests against racial inequality and police brutality, Gaetz took a tactless shot at San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
To all who will kneel during the anthem today - just remember how Jose Fernandez risked his life just for the chance to stand for it— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) September 25, 2016
Fernandez, who escaped from Cuba by boat on his fourth try as a teenager, was killed in a boating accident off Miami Beach in the early hours of Sunday.
Twitter users were quick to criticize Gaetz for exploiting the MLB star’s death.
@mattgaetz you realize under trump Jose wouldn't be been deported, right? Wouldn't have the opportunity to play the game he loves— BA (@ba613) September 25, 2016
@mattgaetz He risked his life for the right to NOT stand or be coerced into any other faux-patriotic pageantry.— Walter Kolczynski (@bubba0077) September 25, 2016
.@mattgaetz you're an opportunistic vampire— Vice President Tim (@TimBaffoe) September 25, 2016
@mattgaetz Escaping a country where protest could land you in jail. Are you capable of complex thought?— sAD sACK (@sadsackjetsfan) September 25, 2016
@mattgaetz Do you make everything about you or did you just wake up feeling like the world needed some more inhumanity in it today?— Rick Freeman (@RWFreeman) September 25, 2016
@mattgaetz actually he risked his life for freedom from opressive governments. Freedom like the ability to sit during the anthem.— Hustler of Culture (@HofC) September 25, 2016
Meanwhile, Gaetz appeared to stand his ground amid the criticism.
“My point is that while America remains imperfect, so many do so much to enjoy our freedoms. Seems ungrateful to kneel. Just my opinion,” he replied to a critic.