Donald Trump doesn’t like dissent. That squares him with about 100% of presidents who have come before him. But a critical difference between Trump and his predecessors is that the current president of the United States apparently doesn’t respect dissent or Americans’ constitutional right to exercise it. Trump gave a fiery speech in Alabama on Friday taking aim at NFL players who kneel during the national anthem in protest — following the lead of NFL persona non grata Colin Kaepernick.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump encouraged NFL fans to leave the stadium when they see that. Maybe then the owners will get the message, Trump posited. “You see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem… if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium,” Trump said. Trump was exercising his right to free speech and freedom of expression in Alabama, even if it isn’t presidential to call fellow citizens “sons of bitches” for exercising their similar right. By encouraging owners to fire a player who protests, Trump is probably encouraging NFL owners to break the law. Or at least to challenge it — no NFL player fired for kneeling would have to look long for a lawyer.