San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest against the American flag was a hot topic for politicians on Wednesday night.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appeared on Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor” on Sept. 28, where he lambasted Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem.
“I think what is he doing is disgraceful,” Trump said. “He’s making a tremendous amount of money. He is living the American dream. He’s trying to make a point. But I don’t think he is making it the correct way. I think what he is doing is very bad for the spirit of the country.”
Trump added, “At the same time, he has the right to protest, and that’s one of the beautiful things about the country.”
President Barack Obama, who once stated it was Kaepernick’s constitutional right to protest against racial discrimination, reiterated those same points during a CNN town hall meeting moderated by Jake Tapper on Wednesday.
“I also always try to remind folks that part of what makes this country special is that we respect people’s rights to have a different opinion and to make different decisions on how they want to express their concerns,” Obama said.
Obama was asked by enlisted Army First Lieutenant James Sutter his opinion on the growing protests by NFL players.
“The test of our fidelity to our Constitution, to freedom of speech, to our Bill of Rights, is not when it’s easy, but when it’s hard. We fight sometimes so that people can do things that we disagree with, but that’s what freedom means in this country.”
Obama stressed the importance of understanding each other’s point of views and how the other may feel.
“I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing,” Obama said.
“I also want people to think about the pain he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot. One of things I saw about American democracy is that it can be frustrating, but it’s the best system we’ve got.”
Kaepernick’s protest against racial disparities in the United States drew the ire of some citizens. He has vowed to continue kneeling during the national anthem.