Amid escalating tensions surrounding NFL national anthem protests, former White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon has said that all Americans “should get down every night and thank God that Donald Trump is president of the United States.”
Bannon, now serving as the executive chairman of Breitbart News, was speaking at a rally in Fairhope, Alabama, on Monday night when he urged everyone to kneel and “thank God” that Trump is the commander in chief of the United States.
According to a report in the Washington Post, Bannon was in Alabama to campaign in support of Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore when he commented.
“Every person should get down every night and thank God that Donald Trump is president of the United States.”
Bannon’s appearance in a Fairhope barn came on the same night that the Dallas Cowboys unanimously defied President Trump’s recent condemnation of the growing protests against police brutality directed at African Americans during the singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” before the start of National Football League (NFL) games.
The Dallas Cowboys team’s owner, Jerry Jones, joined his players in kneeling during the national anthem in the lead-up to a match against the Arizona Cardinals. Jones and the Cowboys were allegedly taking the knee in a defiant show of solidarity opposing Trump’s calls for NFL players who join the protests to be “fired or suspended.”
During the anthem itself, the Cowboys members were joined by the Arizona Cardinals who stood with their arms locked in unison.
Meanwhile, in Fairhope, Steve Bannon told the gathered crowd that President Trump is “one of the most courageous individuals I’ve ever seen” and the “greatest public speaker since William Jennings Bryan,” referring to the charismatic former U.S. secretary of state.
“We did not come here to defy Donald Trump. We came here to praise and honor him.”
Bannon was likely alluding to the general defiance NFL players, coaches, and their managers have been showing in recent days, especially since Trump’s controversial statements on the matter.
Last week, Mr. Trump told supporters at a rally that NFL owners should “get that son of a b***h off the field” when “somebody disrespects our flag.” Trump then ramped up his rhetoric by urging NFL supporters to boycott future games.
Nevertheless, despite Trump’s calls, a spokesperson for the NFL, Joe Lockhart, told reporters that “everyone should know, including the President, that this is what real locker room talk is.” Mr. Lockhart was apparently referring to Trump’s past remarks about the objectification of women by men being standard locker room conversation.
Not only the NFL has been taking part in national protests at sporting events. Baseball and basketball players have also joined their football counterparts in taking the knee, including Golden State Warriors star player Stephen Curry.
In response to Curry’s actions, President Trump supposedly rescinded an invitation that was extended to the Golden State Warriors player to visit the White House. But fellow basketball star, LeBron James, came to Curry’s defense by tweeting that his colleague had already declined the invitation before the president revoked it.
In the tweet, James called the president a “bum.”
Elsewhere, Major League Baseball Players Association President Tony Clark said that “the hope inherent in the non-violent protests we are seeing is of a collective coming together to address the divisive and culturally destructive challenges that exist” in American society.
Moreover, in an opinion piece written for the New York Times, San Francisco 49ers – the same team that used to be the home of Colin Kaepernick – player Eric Reid wrote that the current protests were initially started in response to “reports about the incredible number of unarmed black people being killed by the police” and were intended to highlight “many of the issues that face our community, including systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system.”
Mr. Reid took a swipe at the president by comparing his reaction to the sporting protests to his comments after the violent neo-Nazi marches in, among other cities, Charlottesville.
“It’s disheartening and infuriating that President Trump has referred to us with slurs but the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., as ‘very fine people.’ His remarks are a clear attempt to deepen the rift that we’ve tried so hard to mend.”
[Featured Image by Brynn Anderson/AP Images]