As the national anthem protests continue in the NFL, and many in the public feel alienated, more public figures continue to voice their opinions. The latest to speak out is Ben Stein.
According to Fox News, Stein said, “When I see the Marines who fought on Iwo Jima, fighting, giving up their lives to raise the American flag, and then I think of these guys kneeling to disrespect the flag — it makes me want to vomit.”
Stein’s comment comes just days after the NFL announced it will continue to allow players to “kneel or sit during the national anthem without a penalty, capitulating to demands by the athletes for free expression but potentially further alienating fans who object to the protests and feel they are disrespectful to the flag and the military,” as The New York Times reported.
The protests have been ongoing for a year since Colin Kaepernick first began kneeling in opposition to alleged police brutality and racism. The move inspired other players to follow suit, causing a frenzy in the media, boycotting fans, and both the NFL and its television partners to lose revenues.
President Trump has been vocal, on Twitter and in speeches, in opposition to the national anthem protests in the NFL. He brought attention to the issue, which caused more NFL players to kneel in protest of the president — far detached from the original protests waged by Kaepernick.
Following the NFL’s decision to avoid penalizing protesting players, President Trump tweeted, “The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country!”
Many believe that kneeling for the national anthem is a sign of disrespect for military and law enforcement who commit — and sacrifice — their lives to public service.
President Trump’s and Ben Stein’s sentiments echo the feelings of Americans. A CBS News poll conducted last month revealed that 52 percent of Americans disapproved of anthem protests in the NFL, while only 38 percent approved.
Similarly, a CNN poll revealed that 49 percent believed protesting the anthem was the wrong way to express political opinions, while only 43 percent believed it was the right way.
Stein recently discussed the protests in the NFL issue further with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. “These guys are a bunch of sulking big babies … There’s no institutional racism in America at all anymore,” he said.
He also stated that the NFL players “don’t know what they’re talking about” and that everyone should “ignore them,” likening them to “bad babies.” Considering the players themselves have multimillion dollar contracts, they haven’t even experienced the oppressive effects of racism they claim to protest.
Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins, stated that 32 team owners held a business meeting in New York and came to the decision to allow the protests to continue. When asked if players would continue their protests, Ross said, “I can’t really tell you what people are going to do. The league has a policy. It hasn’t changed.”
Considering the NFL has now become the least favorable sport, and ESPN has decided to no longer air the national anthem in the wake of declining revenues and ratings, the continued protests certainly won’t be good for the league or its television network partners.