President Obama elaborates on NFL anthem protests

AP

During a Presidential Town Hall that aired Wednesday night on CNN, President Barack Obama faced a variety of questions from service members and their families. One member of the armed services asked a pointed question about the ongoing anthem protests happening during football games.

“Mr. President,” said First Lieutenant James Sutter, “we honor those who have given deep meaning to the phrase ‘home of the brave’ by making the ultimate sacrifice for the land of the free.  Lately, some players in the NFL have been choosing to take a knee during the national anthem, a time which I believe should be reserved to respect our service members.  As Commander-in-Chief, how do you feel about those NFL players choosing this typically respected time to voice their opinions?”

“As I’ve said before, I believe that us honoring our flag and our anthem is part of what binds us together as a nation,” President Obama said. “And I think that for me, for my family, for those who work in the White House, we recognize what it means to us, but also what it means to the men and women who are fighting on our behalf. But I’m also always trying 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 about how they want to express their concerns. And 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.

“My hope would be that as this debate surfaces, we’re always reminding ourselves that in a democracy like ours, there are gonna be a lot of folks who do stuff that we just don’t agree with. But as long as they’re doing it within the law, then we can voice our opinion objecting to it, but it’s also their right.

“And I think that it’s also important for us to recognize that sometimes out of these controversies we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other. So I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them 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. But I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.

“And one of the things I always say about American democracy is that it can be frustrating but it’s the best system we got. The only way that we make it work is to see each other, listen to each other, try to be respectful of each other, not just go into separate corners. And I do hope that anybody who’s trying to express any political view of any sort understands that they do so under the blanket of protection of our men and women in uniform, and that that appreciation of that sacrifice is never lost.”

It sounds good in theory, but it’s hardly an accurate reflection of modern political discourse, where middle grounds are never acknowledged, and where so many people have a hardened belief that their view is correct and anyone who disagrees with them is stupid, corrupt, and/or un-American.

48 responses to “President Obama elaborates on NFL anthem protests

  1. I’m one of those crazy bastardos who ENLISTED in the middle of a shooting war because I believed, and still believe in this country. Kapernick and all those who have joined them, in my mind, are patriots.

    Carlos and Smith knew what they were doing in Mexico City, and they helped to inspire my desire to serve my country.

    It ain’t black, it ain’t white, it’s about what’s right.

  2. nyctraffic says:
    Sep 28, 2016 10:15 PM
    There will never be a president as well-spoken, fair-minded, and even-keeled as Obama. Say what you want. The guy is pure class.

    Your laughing as you type that I hope! He’s going to go down as the worst president in this great nations history!

  3. Im going to wipe my butt with the flag in protest of rising gas prices.

    ITS NOT FAIR AND IM EXPRESSING MYSELF AND I HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPRESS MYSELF BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT MAKES AMERICA GREAT.

    Don’t judge me.

  4. Playing of National Anthem at sporting events was pushed by President Franklin D Roosevelt and remained a great tradition until late in Obama’s administration

  5. Obama is a good speaker, but his policy’s have led to 10 million more in poverty today than when he took office. Over 10 trillion. In debt, income gap was increased, middle class and poor are worse off. Economy is still limping, the middle east is a disaster and because we pull out, it led to the largest refugee crisis I have ever seen. Good guy, horrible policy.

  6. Popcorn ready.
    I like Obama, but this is about as fencesitting and political an answer, as articulate as it was, as there is.

    He’s only in office for 2 more months…would have no issue if he decides for a “hottake” on one of these opportunities.

  7. It is disrespect no ifs ands or buts. Anyone who suggests different is a butthead. There are other ways to protest other than showing disrespect!

  8. I think it is totally appropriate for PFT to be posting this news. Anytime the President talks about pro football, it is relevant here. And personally, what the President said was spot on. We should support and honor the troops, and we should support and honor people’s free expression of their opinions, even if we don’t agree with them, because that’s one of the things that the troops are fighting for – our right to live in a country where we can freely express ourselves. Democracy isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be.

  9. Pro football talk have the right to post whatever, it’s freedom of speech, like the President said, in his speech. If you don’t like what Pro Football Talk post, you have the right to go to another website, if you don’t like what is posted or you can go to Russia, where there is no rights.

  10. I wonder what kind of Demagoguery would come from a Republican in the same situation. The answer Obama gave was profoundly thoughtful, and honest. Unfortunately it will fall on deaf ears. And we all wonder why we call each other idiots when we refuse to see things from others perspective. Obama has made innumerable mistakes and history will judge him for them. What side of history are you in if you don’t believe in the rights of others to be heard?

  11. Obama is such a genius. He is a secular King. Just like the Dalai Lama is It’s really unfortunate that the imbeciles in the military have coopted the national anthem claiming it’s a moment to remember those who natural selection disposed of. The national anthem is for everybody that is a citizen of the United States, not just the guys who didn’t have good enough grades to go to college, and who are believers that they’re fighting abroad to keep us safe at home. It’s fascist to think you have to behave any particular way during the national anthem, and even worse that someone thinks their way is superior. For whatever reason the NFL courts the military. There must be some study that shows how high the percentage of them that follow the NFL is.

  12. If your views are conservative, then you will automatically be labeled as a racist, a bigot, or uneducated. No other view other than a liberal one will be tolerated. It’s forgivable for NFL player Isaiah Crowell to post an image of a cop being beheaded. But it is not forgivable for MLB player Steve Clevenger to post anti Obama/ BLM messages. This is a liberals view of democracy. All lives matter is somehow racist but black lives matter is acceptable. This is the “progressive” way.

  13. …where middle grounds are never acknowledged, and where so many people have a hardened belief that their view is correct and anyone who disagrees with them is stupid, corrupt, and/or un-American.

    The anthem aside…It is because we cater to the squeaky wheel, or as I read once…the most easily offended.

    This is not to say they are wrong, just that we live in an era now, that when someone is offended, we must stop doing whatever is offensive to them … be it an advertisement, a song, a serving of food, a menu or whatever.

  14. Someone who we know for certain has lost a loved one who died in defense of their country or someone who -thinks- their loved one was unfairly shot.

    exactly the same?

  15. Obama talks about it being ok to have a different view, that’s what makes this country great…but have you ever notice if you have a different view than Obama and the liberals in the media, that all he** breaks loose. For example, that Indiana law that just reiterated that everyone had its own constitutional right (freedom of religion) to not serve to gay couples. However, did the media and Obama say, “Hey, it’s their right”. Nope, instead, they pressured every company to boycott the entire state, basically putting a financial hurt on innocent American’s until the law was changed (even though it wasn’t a new law)…

    Just like Janet Reno said back when corrupt Bill Clinton was in office, “We will be intolerant of intolerance”. In other words, you will be forced to see things our way.

  16. Whenever times are tough, some take a knee and some STANDUP! My son, a Marine, stood up! Punks, use others courage, and sacrifice, and are protected by the people they slam. USA, has always carried a few extra weights.

  17. The only way that we make it work is to see each other, listen to each other, try to be respectful of each other, not just go into separate corners.
    ———-
    That’s asking far far far too much of your modern average American.

  18. Regardless of if you agree with the President’s decisions over his terms, his statement is well thought out and very fair- saying this as an active duty member.

  19. I agree that we come here for Football but I find myself getting caught up in this stuff. Say what you want about Obama, I’m not huge fan nor do I hate the guy, what he said here is well put with a lotta of thought and care.

  20. Colin Kaepernick’s contract calls for him to receive $15 million base, $2 million roster bonus, and $400K workout bonus.

    Prediction: He will not be seeing that from the 49ers and will be lucky to be making $4 million from a team desperate enough to find a quarterback. He will be the RG3 of 2016. Nobody wants or needs this headache. He wasn’t going to get the $17.4M from SF even without this distraction, but this will impact his next NFL gig, if there is one.

  21. I’m a Marine. My Dad is a Marine. My Uncle was a Marine. As important as our service to country is our service to community. The only thing more absurd than a service member lording his/her service over others as a standard of patriotism is someone using the service of another (son, daughter, cousin, etc) to denigrate those who choose not to serve. I don’t consider those who have not served as extra weight, and I don’t know any decent, reasonable service member who does. I was/am willing to die to ensure the constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful protest.

  22. Obamas answer was thoughtful, insightful, honest, and enlightened. The right is going to hate it.

    I would take four more years of BO vs either of the buffoons that are running.

  23. Obama LOVES these anthem protests. Which is embarrassing.
    ——-
    No your post is embarrassing. So sick of the right telling us how he thinks and finding hidden meaning in every utterance. The gridlock we’ve had over the last 8 years is a direct result of that kind of thinking. To guys like you, he will never do anything right and that’s sad.

  24. How are more people down voting this comment? Unreal.

    kyblue33 says:
    Sep 29, 2016 8:23 AM

    Whenever times are tough, some take a knee and some STANDUP! My son, a Marine, stood up! Punks, use others courage, and sacrifice, and are protected by the people they slam.

  25. nyctraffic says:
    Sep 28, 2016 10:15 PM

    There will never be a president as well-spoken, fair-minded, and even-keeled as Obama. Say what you want. The guy is pure class.
    ________________

    Look at his support for a fallacious based BLM movement, the ill-advised divisive action starting with Michael Brown/STL [ “hands up don’t shoot” – He needs to act like a President for ALL the people, not act like an aggrieved black community activist.

    I think when history looks back on Obama, they are going to see the actions/inactions of his presidency and will critique him very hard. He was in a tough situation, but he surely did not rise to the occasion to be considered a top or elite President.

  26. Good job Goodell, you have people more interested in what goes on before a game, than what goes on during the game. And its your fault because:

    YOU have decided to deal with the off the field issues in the public spotlight rather than behind closed doors. You wanted that spotlight shined on you rather than the players, and you used your public spankings as a way to do that. So while the entire public does know who you are, the football world knows what you are, and as a result its beginning to show in the ratings. I wretch when I hear the play by play caller tell me over and over on how the NFL is trying to fix this or fix this, and what good boys the owners are. Its propaganda in my eyes. I just want my game back. Put the safety where its needed, yes, but stop with all this other nonsense of discipline, moral piety, and “integrity” crap. Get rid of Goodell, and get a commish who doesn’t crave the spotlight more than the players

  27. I can’t help but get the impression that someone like manipuraram would be one of the last people to jump in and risk his rear end during a crisis.

  28. “And I think that for me, for my family, for those who work in the White House, we recognize what it means to us, …” Nice dodge! Obviously, as one who thinks that the country needs to be “transformed” (aka, destroyed and rebuilt), we know exactly what you mean, but are too coward to say it. At least Michelle had the balls to put it out there and and admit that she hated the country until she was able to enjoy the special privileges of being first lady.

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