Speaking to a crowd Friday night in Huntsville, Alabama, President Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a ***** off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”  The crowd that night in Huntsville erupted in cheers at the words of our President.
But since that moment, the voices of many have been heard taking great issue with his statement.
Today around the NFL, many teams are protesting his stance by kneeling or locking arms. The Pittsburgh Steelers opted to not exit the locker room for the National Anthem. However, I think it is very important to highlight that Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger and current offensive tackle for the Steelers, stood outside the tunnel with his hand over his heart during the Anthem.
Players, coaches, and owners have taken to their social media accounts to express their differing opinions with President Trump. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots and friend of Trump said, “I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday. I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities…There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics…Our players are intelligent, thoughtful and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful.”
On September 15th I wrote a blog addressing the unemployment of Colin Kaepernick. You can go back and check that out here. The bulk of that article expressed my thoughts that Kaepernick is not just unemployed today because he knelt during the National Anthem. I presented my case that his body of work has not warranted a starting job in the NFL today. I think the support of his fellow NFL players, the coaches who would start him and the owners who would hire him, prove that his stance has nothing to do with his unemployment. Though, for what it’s worth, I would not be surprised if he doesn’t end up on a roster before the end of the season thanks in part to this statement by President Trump.
I’ve thought a lot this weekend about my opinions of the protests, and the President’s statement.
I shared in my previous blog that my love and respect for our nation and our flag will always bring me to my feet during the National Anthem. And nothing about that has changed. That being said, another thing I love about this country is our Constitution and the Bill of Rights that gives us the freedom of speech. My high school history teacher, Janice Noland, helped us learned our rights through the acronym SPPAR. I will never forget that: speech, press, petition, assembly, and religion. That being said, roughly 683,000 Americans have paid the ultimate price and given their lives in battle to defend our great nation and to ensure those rights for you, for me, for Colin Kaepernick and yes, even for Donald Trump. 
It was every bit in Colin Kaepernick’s rights to kneel as his expression of freedom of speech and petition. And unfortunately, it was every bit in Donald Trump’s rights to make the statement he made as his expression of speech.
I do not like what President Trump said. I do not agree with his statement or that stance. On the other hand, I do not like the protest by kneeling during the National Anthem either. But what I do like, in fact, love, is that we live in a free nation where those words and actions are protected. I would not trade my freedom to speak my mind to live in a nation that controls my words and my actions to that extent.
If only Donald Trump has stopped there Friday night.
But as has become common practice in this Administration, President Trump was back on Twitter yesterday this time to spar with NBA phenom, Steph Curry.
Steph Curry is one of the most adored players in the NBA and incredibly talented at his craft. It is customary for the winners of big events in our country, like the NBA Championship, to visit the White House as the sitting President’s way of honoring their victory and celebrating their success. Curry stated at the end of last week that he would rather not visit the White House because of his objections to the current Administration’s policies and rhetoric. The Warriors are due for a visit following their defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA championship series.
There have been members of teams who have voiced their statements by not attending ceremonies at the White House, and Steph was just making his position known.
Again, our Constitution protects that right.
President Trump responded to Curry on Twitter, of course, by saying, “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”  To be completely honest when I first read the tweet on my feed, I rolled my eyes. I felt like it was childish and immature. It felt like something I would hear on an elementary school playground, “I don’t like you, you can’t play with my toys” type of thing. But unfortunately this was not a playground and this was not a small child making the statement. This was the leader of our nation.
And that to me is a problem.
Donald Trump is the President of the United States and as such, he resides in the White House.
But the White House is not his possession. The White House belongs to the American People.
The White House has been called, “The People’s House” for many years before Trump’s arrival, and God-willing will still be so after his departure. The White House is the possession of all of us who are American tax paying citizens. Just as you cannot walk into my home and tell me who is allowed in my home, President Trump does not have that right either at the White House. His statement does not represent the greatness of our country. His childish behavior on Twitter is a disgrace to his position and honestly, in the words of Steph Curry, “it’s beneath a leader of a country to go that route.” 
I’m disappointed in what transpired this weekend in both of these situations.
As someone who voted for Donald Trump, I expect better from him. The statement “inspect what you expect” is ringing in my head today. But the truth is, I won’t back down from what I expect from him. That is a responsibility he took on by running for public office. We need better from him. He must learn that words are a powerful tool and his misuse of them does nothing but divide our country further.
President Trump made statements after the Charlottesville events that were incredibly divisive to those who stand against white supremacy, bigotry, and hatred. His statements then were sugar-coated, weak and wrong. There were not “good people” on both sides. I’m sorry but if you are affiliated with supremacy organizations there is nothing good about you. It’s your right, I understand, to think and feel as you wish. The same blood that was shed for Colin Kaepernick was shed for the KKK on battlefields by American soldiers. The African American man who gave his life in battle did so for that right, just as much as the Caucasian man who died as well. To take such a “pussy foot” stance against that evil and now to come out with such vitriol filled language in opposition to Mr. Kaepernick is an injustice on the part of our President.
With stars like Lebron James calling our President a “bum.” I’d say our nation continues to be divided.
I’m not sure President Trump can unite these United States. I’m not saying Hillary Clinton could have either.
We would have had issues no matter who won, albeit different ones and displayed on different platforms than Twitter perhaps. We need leaders in our country who care more about fixing the issues of our nation than they do their next tweet. We need leaders in our country who lead from a place of integrity and not questionable antics like wiping email servers. We need leaders who welcome EVERYONE to their table, not just the ones who support them. We need leaders who will march us further from racism and closer to being united. We need leaders who will take a firm, strong stance against the things that divide us. We need leaders who leave no room for hatred or bigotry.
I know it’s incredibly easy to log on to your social media accounts and bash Donald Trump for his actions, and words, this weekend. Trust me, I’ve thought about doing the same a few times myself. But at the end of the day, we are only driving further division when we do that and acting just like him in that situation.
We have to be different. We have to live above reproach. We have to take the high road. We have to support our nation and defend our freedoms vigorously against all attacks, at home and abroad.
Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/warriors/