Dear Commons Community,
On Thursday, the National Football League’s preseason started and during the playing of the national anthem, a number of players knelt, raised their fists or decided not to come on the field. On Sunday, white nationalists and bigots are expected to take to the streets, this time in front of the White House, marking one year since their hate-filled rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one white supremacist killed counter-protester Heather Heyer. During his CNN show yesterday, Jake Tapper slammed the president for failing to condemn the upcoming white supremacist rally in Washington, D.C., while instead bashing NFL players for taking a knee against racism and police violence during the national anthem.
Tapper accused the president of “giving a presidential megaphone to one side in a controversial cultural issue.”
He continued: “Rather than condemn the bigots or their beliefs today, the president took aim at a different protest: a small group of NFL players calling attention to racial injustice and inequality during the national anthem.”
The president, seeing a “divided nation,” once again did the “opposite of trying to bring us together,” Tapper said.
Authorities say that Heyer, 32, was killed when a neo-Nazi deliberately drove his vehicle into her and other counter-protesters in Charlottesville. Dozens of people were injured. Trump notoriously insisted at that time that “there were very fine people on both sides” of the confrontation.
The suspect in Heyer’s killing faces 30 charges, including first-degree murder and federal hate offenses.
Charlottesville officials have already declared a state of emergency in the city ahead of this weekend’s anniversary of the violent march.
On “CNN Tonight” on Tuesday, host Don Lemon said Trump “traffics in racism,” pointing to the president’s attacks on the intelligence of African-American public figures and his repeated criticism of the protests involving many black athletes.
Trump resumed blasting the NFL protests after Miami Dolphins Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt during the anthem ahead of their opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday.
“Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be suspended without pay!” the president tweeted.
Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49er who first started kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, offered Stills and Wilson words of encouragement.
NOTE: On Saturday morning and after Jake Tapper’s commentary, Donald Trump tweeted:
The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!