By Dan Calabrese
I’m not sure I get this one. It’s true that fewer than half the Eagles were planning to attend – and a few were very vocal about it, such as the obnoxiously self-righteous Chris Long – but that’s not because of the anthem thing. The ones not going just flat-out don’t like Trump, and that was the case before he leaned on the owners to effectively put an end to the kneeling.
What’s the point of doing this now?
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“The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!” Trump tweeted later in the evening.
In his earlier statement, Trump said the Eagles wanted to a send a smaller delegation, “but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.”
“These fans are still invited to the White House to be part of a different type of ceremony – one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem,” Trump said.The Eagles did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Torrey Smith, who played as a wide receiver for the Eagles in the Super Bowl but has since been traded, responded on Twitter to Trump, saying that there were “so many lies.”
“Not many people were going to go,” Smith said, and “no one refused to go simply because Trump ‘insists’ folks stand for the anthem.”
Trump, he said, “continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti military.”
No player for the Eagles knelt or sat while there were 73 other protests among Eagles players during the National Anthem during the 2017 regular season, according to report by Sports Pundit, which tracked protests among the 32 NFL teams.
This sounds like using the anthem thing as a pretext for canceling the event in order to avoid all the media jabbering about how small the turnout was, and you know that would have been the only storyline coming out of the event.
A lot of people think Trump should have stayed out of the anthem-kneeling controversy. I don’t, because the kneelers are spreading a falsehood and they deserve to be criticized. But Trump hasn’t focused the criticism like he should. He’s made it about the flag and the country in general, which has set up the players to defend themselves on the basis of people wanting to force them into compulsory patriotism.
When the players say the protests are not about the flag or the troops, that’s true. But it’s about something just as bad, which is slandering police officers by falsely accusing them of being racist brutes who are going around murdering black people. What Trump should be doing is defending the police while pointing out how ignorant and dishonest the players conducting these protests really are. They’re not only spreading a false narrative, they’re actually causing people to irrationally fear the police and flee or resist arrest in ways that are putting their lives in jeopardy.
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Of course, if Trump defended the police, the media would send its “fact-checkers” to claim police officers are the greatest threat to humanity, simply because Trump said otherwise.
I’ve always thought these White House events for sports champions are kind of dumb, and I’ve thought that ever since Ronald Reagan did them. But I’d hate to see athletes’ hatred of Donald Trump become the reason the tradition ends. It should end just because it’s dumb.
Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!
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