President Donald Trump used the Super Bowl to once again assert that Americans ought to stand during the national anthem, the latest in a reoccurring attack on athletes and others who have knelt during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial discrimination.
“Though many of our Nation’s service members are unable to be home with family and friends to enjoy this evening’s American tradition, they are always in our thoughts and prayers,” Trump said in a statement marking the NFL championship game. “We owe these heroes the greatest respect for defending our liberty and our American way of life. Their sacrifice is stitched into each star and every stripe of our Star-Spangled Banner.”
“We hold them in our hearts and thank them for our freedom as we proudly stand for the National Anthem.”
Trump’s campaign committee, as quoted by the Washington Examiner, used similar language Sunday, saying of Democrats: “They won’t stand for the National Anthem.”
“They won’t stand for record-low unemployment, a booming American economy, or a call for American unity at the President’s first State of the Union,” Trump’s campaign wrote in the email. “So we’re not sure what the Democrats will stand for. But our President stands for AMERICA, the FLAG, and our HEROIC veterans.”
The messages mark the latest in a series of digs by the President at those who kneel during the anthem to protest discrimination and police brutality.
At his State of the Union address Tuesday, Trump recognized 12-year-old Preston Sharp for planting American flags on veterans’ graves and immediately pivoted to attack Americans who kneel during the anthem.
“Preston’s reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us of why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance and why we proudly stand for the national anthem,” the President said.
Trump’s grudge against athletes who kneel during the anthem reached a peak in September when he suggest NFL owners “get that son of a bitch off the field,” referring to players who kneel during the anthem.
A month later, Vice President Mike Pence made political theater out NFL players kneeling at a football game he attended. Pence left the stadium right then and there — just as Trump had instructed him to do.