The Eagles organization has never flown higher than it did in deciding not to force its players to accommodate President Trump’s plan to use them as a prop in his campaign to stifle freedom of speech.
Trump late Monday disinvited Philly’s NFL team from a planned visit Tuesday to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl championship after learning that most Eagles players wouldn’t be there.
That includes safety Malcolm Jenkins, who was a leader among the Eagles players who this past season chose to visibly protest social injustice when the national anthem was played during pregame ceremonies.
“If you want to meet to talk about advancing our communities, changing our countries, I am all for that,” Jenkins said. “This isn’t one of those meetings. So I’ll opt out of the photo opportunity.”
Trump, in typical fashion, treated the snub of him as an affront to all Americans.
“They disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country,” Trump said in a statement.
He later tweeted that instead of honoring the Eagles, “we will proudly be playing the National Anthem and other wonderful music celebrating our Country. … Honoring America!”
It was another of Trump’s jingoistic appeals to his conservative political base, which he couldn’t care less about expanding by reaching out to people with different opinions.
Instead of using this opportunity to express his willingness to try to understand why NFL players chose to kneel, raise a fist, or stay in the locker room during the national anthem, Trump chose to label their behavior un-American when in fact the opposite is true.
Were there no dissenters there would be no America. Rather than protest the crown’s injustice, the colonials would have continued to salute the Union Jack and spout, “God bless the king!”
It isn’t by accident that the very first amendment to the U.S. Constitution is a guarantee of freedom of speech, which includes the right to peaceably protest. Presidents are expected to respect that right. Dictators are expected to ignore it.
It is wrong for Trump to exploit the genuine love Americans have for their country by suggesting any criticism of this nation is an attack on its very existence.
As good as this country is, it has flaws. Among them is the discriminatory treatment too often afforded to minority groups, including African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, Asians, the LGBTQ community, and others.
You can’t eradicate discrimination without first admitting it exists. You can’t eliminate racism in law enforcement without confronting it head-on.
Many Eagles fans would prefer that ballplayers played ball and stayed out of politics. But athletes and other celebrities who use the stage they have been given to address issues much more important than winning a game or a championship should be applauded. So should their employers when they give them freedom to speak their minds when it is appropriate.
So, Eagles fans, stay true. Your team hasn’t abandoned you, nor should you abandon it. When it comes time for the Eagles to perform on the field, they will rise to the occasion.