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Maddow Says Trump Is Making NFL Protests A 'Racially Divided Issue'

President Trump’s bashing of National Football League players for protesting before games is part of a “planned-out” strategy to inflame the nation’s racial tensions, according to Rachel Maddow.

The Hill reported that the MSNBC commentator, during an interview on NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” told host Jimmy Fallon that “this wasn’t just like (Trump) popping off on Twitter.” She explained. “He decided he was going to make a racially divisive issue out of something going on in sports. They planned on it, they built a whole campaign around it and then he launched it, and so I sometimes feel like he gets away with this stuff a little bit because people assume that he did it without thinking. This is a planned-out thing. Other people were involved in deciding to do this. That creeps me out about it.”

More than 200 NFL players sat, kneeled, locked arms or raised their fists during the national anthem before last Sunday’s games. The overwhelming majority of them were African-Americans. The previous week, only six athletes took part in the protests. The others decided to join them after Trump tweeted that team owners should fire the players. The president also called on the NFL’s commissioner to institute a policy banning protests.

Trump’s critics are accusing him of attempting to distract attention from other issues, especially the investigation of allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in last year’s election. The president’s derisive comments about the players have sparked a debate about whether their actions are appropriate or patriotic.

The demonstrations began in August 2016, when former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick remained seated during the anthem before a pre-season game. He told reporters that he was reacting to white police officers having killed unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and other U.S. cities. Some of the players who followed Kaepernick’s example cited systemic racism and social inequality, as well as police violence.

The Hill noted that polls show Americans have sharply different views about the protests. Some people concur with Trump that the players are disrespecting the flag and the country, while others point to free-speech rights. In a Reuters/Ipsos survey released Tuesday, 57 percent of respondents said the NFL should not fire the athletes. However, 58 percent agreed with the statement that “players should be required to stand during the national anthem at sporting events.”

CBS News/YouGov pollsters found that 52 percent of U.S. adults do not approve of the protests. Thirty-eight percent expressed the opposite view. That does not mean the majority are supporting Trump’s position. Only 38 percent said they approved of the president’s controversial rhetoric, while 48 percent disapproved.

Last week, during a rally in Alabama, Trump drew cheers when he asked the crowd: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b***** off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” The speech ignited a backlash, with NFL officials and team owners rising to the players’ defense. League Commissioner Roger Goodell called the president “divisive.”

Source: The Hill
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