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Montel Williams: Don't 'Disrespect' Protesting NFL Players

Montel Williams is rising to the defense of professional athletes who protest racial injustice by refusing to stand for the national anthem before games.

“We’re all acting like we’re upset because someone seems to have offended you patriotically,” he remarked in an interview on the morning television show “Great Day Washington” on Tuesday.

“The majority of people I hear opening their mouths ― they didn’t put a uniform on their back. ... So how dare you disrespect those who have been shot for freedom of speech by telling people to shut up?”

The Huffington Post noted that the former talk-show host is a 22-year military veteran. After serving in the Marine Corps, he joined the Navy and rose in rank to lieutenant commander.

Last Sunday, more than 200 National Football League players joined in the protests by sitting, kneeling or raising their fists during the anthem, The Associated Press reported. Many of them were angry about President Trump having urged NFL team owners to fire any “son of a b****” who “disrespects the flag.”

Trump also has called on league officials to adopt a policy requiring players to stand for the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Williams argued that the athletes are not ridiculing the flag or the country, but using their high-profile positions to raise awareness about systemic racism and police violence. He pointed out that as a member of the armed services, he swore to defend the Constitution rather than the flag or the anthem.

“In the history of television, I’m the only person to put the U.S. flag in the middle of their set,” he said.

“That was the flag I’m going to be buried in. But I respect your right to disagree any way you choose to. Our Constitution confirmed that you can burn a flag. How dare we not allow people to get down on their knees and pray that this country wakes up?"

"I’m sorry, but I see a lot of people opening their big mouths on television, but their family didn’t serve. They didn’t let their children serve.” HuffPost reported that Williams fought back tears as he delivered the emotional message.

A national poll of 1,055 adults that the Global Strategy Group conducted for ESPN found that Americans are divided in their reactions to the protests. Fifty-one percent said they “somewhat disapproved” or “strongly disapproved” of the demonstrations.

Thirty-nine percent approved. Among African-Americans, 72 percent backed the players, while 62 percent of white respondents took the opposite view.

Among those who described themselves as NFL fans, 48 percent approved of the protests and 47 percent disapproved. When all the survey respondents were asked whether the controversy had affected their interest in the sport, only 14 percent indicated they were more interested.

Thirty-one percent said they had become less interested, while 43 percent claimed the protests had no effect on their opinions.

Fifty-eight percent disapproved of Trump’s comments, with just 36 percent approving. Sixty-four percent of the NFL fans criticized the president, and 36 percent said they liked what he said.

Regardless of people’s views, most apparently are interested in the issue. Seventy-eight percent said they were closely following the story, although 55 percent thought the news media were covering it excessively.

Source: HuffPost
Photos: YouTube, U.S. Navy, Department Of Defense

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