Right Opinion

Trump Takes on the NFL's Stars and Stripes

Tony Perkins · Sep. 26, 2017

It’s been a long time since a group of underdog college kids beat the Soviets on ice at Lake Placid. Or since Jesse Owens sprinted his way to four gold medals while Adolf Hitler watched. Sunday, Americans probably felt every one of the 16 years that have passed since President Bush walked to the mound at Yankee Stadium to throw out the first pitch after 9/11. They were just games — but to a nation in crisis, they were so much more. These were the sports that united a country.

Nothing made us prouder to be Americans than the toughness that caused Kerri Strug to stick that impossible landing. Or tore our hearts open like speed skater Dan Jansen’s fall when he learned his sister had died. But those moments have never felt farther away than this weekend, when sports was no longer the healer — but the divider. A storm that had been brewing since the moment quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit out the National Anthem finally boiled over, and for the first time in a long time, the biggest story line on NFL Sunday had nothing to do with the scores.

Like most Americans, President Trump has watched this year-long controversy unfold with disdain. Tired of spoiled pros insulting his flag and country, President Trump did what President Trump does — he vented. At a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, he unleashed on the NFL for encouraging players like Kaepernick to protest. He asked fans to send the league a message by turning off the game. “Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore anyway… Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that [expletive] off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired.’”

Trump got the league’s attention alright. Immediately, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and owners across the NFL blasted the president for his “lack of respect for the NFL.” But respect isn’t earned by disrespecting those who defend our freedoms. And while I think President Trump could have delivered his message more artfully, I agree with his sentiment. As someone who was willing to fight for the very freedom these players are exercising, I don’t dispute their right to protest. But they’d do well to remember where those rights were earned: under the same flag they’re disgracing. FRC’s Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin takes that personally.

I served the nation in uniform for over three and a half decades, and I served in part so that these players could choose to disrespect the traditions, history, and sacrifices of a great nation. But I find it disgusting and disturbing that men like Kaepernick, who are living the American dream embodied by our flag and anthem, are so determined to belittle and denigrate the veterans and men and women currently fighting to ensure the continuance of that very dream.

Maybe these players believe that making the National Anthem the villain of a centuries-long racial divide makes a powerful statement. But in the process, it shows contempt for far more than President Trump. It dishonors the black airmen, soldiers, sailors, and Marines who’ve come home in caskets draped with those very stars and stripes. And I suppose most teams were too busy sitting out America’s proudest tradition to realize that Sunday was Gold Star Mother’s Day, set aside to honor the moms whose military sons and daughters paid the ultimate price. How many of those grieving women watched the NFL’s demonstrations with tears streaming down their face at these players’ ungratefulness? How many veterans who lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan tuned in wishing they could stand for anything ever again?

In a day where the halftime talk wasn’t about missed catches or interceptions, there were some moving snapshots of the pride so many have forgotten. There was the image of the Pittsburgh Steelers’s Alejandro Villanueva — a West Point grad and Army Ranger — who stood all alone outside the tunnel, his hand over his heart while the Star Spangled Banner played. While major networks were an anti-Trump echo chamber, fans fought back, heeding the president’s call to boycott. At the Patriots game in Foxborough, boos rained down from the stands, along with shouts for the players to “stand up!” Others pushed back on the double standards on social media with pictures of Coach Joe Kennedy or Tim Tebow, who were mocked or outright punished when they took a knee … in prayer.

Rev. Franklin Graham called on America do exactly that, saying that getting on our knees before God would make a real difference in this splintered country. He’s right. I think we do need to pray to unite — but we also need to spend our money in ways that reflect our values. Just as the NFL has a right to turn its back on the flag, you have a right to turn your back on the NFL. Fans may not be able to change the players’ culture, but they can refuse to participate in their anti-Americanism. In a business where the bottom line should be the bottom line, your voice makes a big difference.

Originally published here.

Senate Deals With Holdup From Health Care’s Holdouts

Just when Americans think the health care debate has flat-lined, Senate Republicans managed to pump new life in the debate. After Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced his formal opposition to the plan offered by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), most conservatives’ hopes were dashed. The GOP could only afford to lose two senators, and with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) a solid “no,” there didn’t seem to be a path forward.

That changed this weekend, when, in a race against time, senators decided to tweak the bill in a last-ditch effort to win over unhappy Republicans. With just four days left before the window expires to pass a repeal with a simple majority, no one is quite sure if the changes will be enough to get the bill moving again. In an obvious carrot to the holdouts, the measure would “steer more federal funding to Alaska, Arizona, and Kentucky,” Politico points out. “All three states are home to pivotal GOP swing votes who either have opposed or expressed concerns with the bill: Senators McCain, Paul, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).” To tamp down other criticism, the plan “also includes new provisions that would give states more freedom to eliminate federal insurance regulations” — something Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have asked for.

The mad dash to rework the bill makes one thing clear: The GOP finally understands the urgency. After seven years of promises, voters won’t be very forgiving in 2018 if they don’t have at least a partial repeal to show for it. Their majority, credibility, and one-sixth of America’s economy on the line, Republicans have rarely had higher stakes than these. When you live in the bubble of Washington on a six-year election cycle, maybe it’s easy for senators to lose sight of that. House members don’t have that luxury. With just two years to prove themselves to voters, their senses aren’t dulled.

Let’s hope this new wave of changes forces more Republicans to look at the big picture, which includes countless unborn lives, whose fate will literally be decided by what the GOP does this week. If the Senate misses its opportunity to defund Planned Parenthood as part of the Graham-Cassidy bill, there’s no telling how many innocent children will pay for it. Join us in calling on your senators to see this promise through to completion! Future Americans depend on it.

Originally published here.

See You at the Pole!

While the rest of the country is talking about the flag, thousands of students are getting ready to pray around it. This Wednesday is the annual See You At the Pole event, where teenagers across the country join hands to lift up their peers to God. Since 1991, millions of kids have taken part in this powerful event, which continues to unite students in a time of repentance and prayer.

These days, there’s no greater need than a Christ-centered generation showing truth to the world. There’s also no greater need for courage to do so. It takes students who are willing to take a stand for their faith in an increasingly hostile world. We’re encouraging as many teenagers as possible to turn out Sept. 27 and intercede for their schools, teachers, and other students.

For information on an event near you, check out the See You at the Pole website. There you’ll find information on everything from your legal rights to pray publicly to inspiring testimonies and links to local chapters. Don’t miss this chance to make a difference in your communities — and in the hearts of students everywhere!

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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