Ben Carson Echoes Trump Administration's Ignorant Response To Kneeling Protests

The secretary of housing and urban development said NFL players should express their love for the military as they protest police violence. Players have already said they support the military.
Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, at a March congressional hearing.
Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, at a March congressional hearing.
Tom Williams via Getty Images

Ben Carson , President Donald Trump鈥檚 secretary of housing and urban development, on Sunday suggested that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police violence should thank the military in the process.

Carson鈥檚 comments appear to miss the point of the protests and back up his boss鈥 disdain for them at a time when kneeling 鈥 a symbolic act of protest developed by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, teammate Eric Reid and former Green Beret Nate Boyer 鈥 is becoming more widely accepted.

鈥淚f those players were to come out and say, 鈥榃e love our nation. We are patriots. We love our flag. We honor the memory of those who died to give us our freedom, but we are protesting some of the brutality that has occurred, and that鈥檚 why we鈥檙e doing this,鈥 I think it would solve the problem,鈥 Carson told CNN鈥檚 鈥淪tate of the Union.鈥

鈥淎nd I suggest they do that,鈥 Carson added.

Trump 鈥 who once called protesting players 鈥渟ons of bitches鈥 and pressured team owners to fire them 鈥 tweeted 鈥淣O KNEELING!鈥 on Friday.

鈥淭here are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag,鈥 Trump said.

Carson鈥檚 comments came against a backdrop of nationwide protests in response to the death of unarmed Black man George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Former Officer Derek Chauvin is facing second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd鈥檚 gruesome death, as revealed in the now-viral video that showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd鈥檚 neck for nearly nine minutes. Three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting Floyd鈥檚 death.

It is, of course, not necessary for Black people 鈥 or any people 鈥 to pay fealty to the U.S. military before demanding human rights. But Carson鈥檚 suggestion was aimed at NFL players who, like Kaepernick, have already expressed support for the military.

Kaepernick explained that years ago. 鈥淚 realize men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives, put their selves in harm鈥檚 way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country, my freedom to take a seat or take a knee,鈥 Kaepernick said in a 2016 news conference. 鈥淚 have the most utmost respect for them. And I think what I did was taken out of context and spun a different way.鈥

Kaepernick added: 鈥淚鈥檓 not anti-America. I love America. I love people. That鈥檚 why I鈥檓 doing this. I want to help make America better.鈥

The matter of kneeling again became a topic of conversation after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees told Yahoo Finance he 鈥渨ill never agree鈥 with those who kneel because he felt they were 鈥渄isrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.鈥

Several NFL players 鈥 including some of Brees鈥檚 teammates 鈥 denounced his remarks. Brees has since posted an apology online.

Kaepernick has not been signed by another NFL team since he began his silent protests in 2016.

On Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell finally appeared to offer up a kind of apology for the league鈥檚 stance. Goodell and league officials 鈥渨ere wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,鈥 he said.

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