Photo: Courtesy of Tribune News Service

Column: Trump administration shows disrespect

There’s a reason why celebrities no longer rely on the 1900s-era trend of blatantly obvious publicity stunts. The public sees right through them. No public figure these days would be shortsighted enough to rely on them, right?

Well, our current administration this past weekend did as it has a tendency to do and jumped back several decades in societal norms, back to the era of publicity stunts. Vice President Pence abruptly left an Indianapolis Colts game to protest athletes taking a knee during the national anthem.

Anger has come out of the White House in recent weeks in reaction to NFL teams and players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality. Supporters echo the White House’s sentiment, often calling the demonstrations disrespectful of our nation’s armed forces and history.

But what these people are ignoring is that these protests aren’t intended to demean those who fight for our country. What they are intended to do is ignite conversation and change regarding nationwide racial biases and police brutality. The reality is, institutions across our country discriminate based on race, and this can lead to unspeakable tragedies. Anyone with open eyes can see that, and these athletes are doing what they can to bring about significant change.

Perhaps the most appalling part of this stunt is the message that Pence was perpetuating — that peacefully protesting has no place in this country, despite what is written in the Constitution.

Those protesting are using their platform to speak out against injustice. Certainly, that’s much more American than condemning fellow countrymen for using their First Amendment rights.

President Trump told his second-in-command to leave if the athletes protested, and Pence jumped right on the bandwagon. By walking out, Pence gave credibility to those saying that athletes who take a knee are trying to disrespect those who serve our country. This is just not true. And honestly, the whole thing feels like junior high school drama.

As the Vice President of our country, Pence has an obligation to conduct himself in a responsible way. Spreading a false narrative is not responsible. Ironically, some estimates put the cost of Pence’s stunt at nearly $250,000 of taxpayers’ money. Now that seems disrespectful of our country.

Are we really supposed to believe that Pence did not think the players would take a knee before deciding to attend? And if he did know, what kind of message was this supposed to send? That disrespecting the people of this country by abusing their tax dollars is okay as long as it pushes your political agenda?

This publicity stunt doesn’t help anybody; all it does is continue to spread ignorance. Maybe if Trump and Pence put their egos and politics aside and recognized that the protests really are important, they could start to unify the nation at least a little bit.

But with every passing day, it seems putting ego aside gets less and less likely. No, they would much rather stick to their ignorant political agenda and recklessly create even more division throughout the country.

So let’s keep protesting and using our voices — we need them now more than ever.

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