NFL player claims Pence leaving after anthem protest proves 'systemic oppression'
Vice President Mike Pence decided to stage his own counter-protest to demonstrations by NFL athletes during the playing of the national anthem. After several San Francisco 49ers players took a knee during the playing of the anthem prior to the game with Indianapolis, Pence got up and walked out of the stadium.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
Pence released a statement explaining his actions.
I left today's Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem. At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. While everyone is entitled to their opinions, I don't think it's too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem. I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.
Forty-niners safety Eric Reid commented on the vice president's counter-protest by bizarrely claiming that Pence walking out of the stadium was proof of "systemic oppression."
Eric Reid, a 49ers safety who knelt alongside Kaepernick last season, reemphasized earlier this year and after Sunday's game that kneeling for the anthem is not designed to disrespect the military or the flag. The act is designed to press for equality and tackle what Reid says is "systemic oppression."
"This is not about the military," Reid told NBC Sports Bay Area. "This is not about the flag. This is not about the anthem. My mother served in the armed forces. Three of my uncles served in the armed forces. In fact, my mom would’ve gone to the Persian Gulf War had she not been pregnant with me. I have the upmost respect for the military, the anthem and the flag. So I will say that every time you interview me."
Reid also suggested that Pence's exit seemed to be a "PR stunt."
"He knew our team has had the most players protest," Reid told NBC Sports Bay Area. "He knew that we were probably going to do to it again. This is what systemic oppression looks like. A man with power comes to a game, he tweets a couple things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts."
I think Mr. Reid has tackled too many times leading with his helmet. First, he can claim he's not disrespecting the flag from now until doomsday. What matters with all protests is the perception of the demonstration formed by those who are being targeted for the message. And the perception of the anthem protest by NFL players is based on the original justification for it given by Colin Kaepernick:
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
If Mr. Reid does not wish to associate himself with Colin Kaepernick's stated disrespect for the flag, he and other players should find a different means of protesting. His intent is meaningless if he adopts the same means of protest used to deliberately, and consciously, show disrespect for the flag.
But this is too complicated for someone who actually believes that Pence has no right to counter-protest because he's white and has "power." There is no means test or racial test for exercising the right to protest. The player's effort to delegitimize opposition to his disrespectful behavior is a typical leftist tactic that seeks to place the protester in a morally ascendant position, making any pushback an immoral act.
Exercising one's constitutional right is not "systemic oppression" under any circumstances. But this isn't about the First Amendment. It's about players who are mad that not everyone loves and admires them for their protest.
They'd better get used to it.