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New York Congressman elaborates on his criticism of the Jets

Mike Florio

In a Saturday morning tweet, New York Congressman Peter King criticized the Jets’ reluctance to fine players for protesting during the anthem, questioning whether CEO Christopher Johnson would provide the same cover for players who display “Nazi salutes or spew racism” under the guise of free speech. Later in the day, King elaborated on his remarks.

“To me, the people who are kneeling down, accusing the police of misconduct, that’s not something that fits within reasonable protest,” King told Kristopher Brooks and Bob Glauber of Newsday. “If I owned an NFL team, I’d say, ‘Either stand up or not be on the team.'”

King has the right think that and to say that, just as the players have the right to think and do otherwise. King’s position is fueled by his belief that the underlying premise of the protests — police brutality against African-Americans and persons of color — arises from a “lie” and that “the statistics don’t show” that minorities have a greater likelihood of suffering unjustified injury or worse at the hands of law-enforcement officials.

Apparently, King trusts statistics more than his own lying eyes.

Even if there’s merit to the argument that African-Americans and people of color are more likely to face unwarranted force when interacting with police, King believes that the protests automatically constitute disrespect.

“You shouldn’t be disrespecting the American flag no matter who you are,” King told Newsday.

The NFL Players Association questioned whether King’s views reflect the principles on which the nation was founded.

“On one level, management should be applauded when it supports labor, because it doesn’t happen as often as it should, and Christopher Johnson is doing the right thing by supporting the players,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told Newsday. “On another level, as an Arab-American immigrant kid from Queens, I know American values and this point of view doesn’t reflect them.”

Which further demonstrates the divide between those who believe that any protest during the anthem constitutes disrespect of the flag, the anthem, and/or the military and those who believe that peaceful protest constitutes an exercise of the very freedoms for which so many men and women have fought and died. People feel very strongly on both sides of the issue; for whatever reason, the NFL has felt compelled to listen only to those on one side of it.