Ever since President Donald Trump attacked NFL players during a rally in Alabama and called team owners to fire those who refuse to stand up for the U.S. national anthem, his aides are coming forward to defend his stance.
Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, a conservative pastor on Trump’s informal evangelical advisory council, made an appearance on “Fox & Friends” and said players who choose to kneel down during the national anthem should be “thanking God” they haven’t been “shot in the head.”
He further said the protesters were disrespecting “our country,” “our leaders” and also linked the controversy to North Korea.
“I think what these players are doing is absolutely wrong. These players ought to be thanking God that they live in a country where they’re not only free to earn millions of dollars every year, but they’re also free from the worry of being shot in the head for taking a knee like they would be if they were in North Korea,” he said.
During the interview, Jeffress also suggested that players should celebrate their freedom of speech by remaining silent.
He further said, “I think tens of millions of Americans agree with President Trump when he says they ought to be called out for this. I know this president. President Trump is not a racist. For President Trump this is not about race. It’s about respect of country.”
It remains unclear what message the pastor tried to convey by citing an example of the hermit kingdom — which is notorious for its human rights abuses.
Last month, Jeffress said during an interview that God has given the president “full power” to launch an attack on North Korea.
“In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-un. I’m heartened to see that our president — contrary to what we’ve seen with past administrations who have taken, at best, a sheepish stance toward dictators and oppressors — will not tolerate any threat against the American people,” he said.
As for the Trump administration, which claims kneeling is disrespectful, Bob Costas pointed out during a segment on CNN Monday morning that patriotism isn't any one thing.
“Patriotism comes in many forms, and what has happened is that it’s been conflated with kind of a bumper sticker kind of flag waving and with the military only so that people cannot see that in his own way — Colin Kaepernick — however imperfectly, is doing a patriotic thing, and so too are some of these other players,” he said.
Trump also claimed that his attacks on NFL players have nothing to do with race and said the “owners should do something about it. It’s very disrespectful to our flag and our country.”
Kaepernick started his protest because of the treatment of African Americans in this country. For Trump to claim his attacks have nothing to do with race is therefore laughable — the entire issue has to do with race, and Trump certainly has been shy about showing his disdain for minorities in the past.
The “take a knee” movement, which is expanding day-by-day, goes to show that Trump’s attacks on the protesters and his supporters’ defense is just making it stronger. More and more people are coming forward and supporting the movement.
Peaceful protests are every person’s right and attacking people who silently register their protest can never be justified.
"Christian pastor" Robert Jeffress says NFL players should be thankful no one has shot them in the head. DISGUSTING! https://t.co/VJ7bVcS9G8— Raul Garza (@raulgarza374) September 26, 2017
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Yuri Gripas