Washington, United States | AFP | US President Donald Trump denied stoking racial tensions Monday, insisting his charged comments that prompted a wave of symbolic protests by NFL players were about patriotism not race.
After a volley of verbal attacks on black athletes led players across the country to kneel during the US national anthem in protest this weekend, the besieged president played defense on Twitter.
Trump had kicked off the furor by attacking players like Colin Kaepernick — who first took a knee through renditions of the “Star-Spangled Banner” during last year’s American football season — as a “son of a bitch” who should be fired.
In a separate feud, Trump also disinvited basketball superstar Stephen Curry from a White House event.
More than pro 150 players from across the country’s most popular sport took a defiant stance, kneeling, linking arms or raising clenched fists during the anthem before 14 games.
The US leader doubled down on those remarks by urging fans to boycott the NFL as long as the protests continued.
And keeping the issue alive for a fourth day, Trump on Monday insisted, “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”
Trump’s NFL comment is so ignorant, we want every NFL players to kneel with Collin Kaeprenick to shame thus brainless president. So stupid!! pic.twitter.com/fMP2hIhzUb
— Dbaldeh (@Dbaldeh1) September 23, 2017
Trump — who faces low poll numbers and is struggling to enact his agenda — on Monday tried to single out the NFL players who protested.
“Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!” he tweeted.
He also pointed to the Pittsburgh Penguins acceptance of a White House invitation and support from racecar fans.
“So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!” Trump tweeted.
But driver Dale Earnhardt also took to Twitter, implicitly rebuking Trump with a quote former president John F Kennedy: “All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”