By Ryan Strong
It was arguably one of the most shocking moments in the presidency of a man whose signature seems to be defying convention and upturning norms of civility. At a rally in Alabama for senate candidate Luthor Strange, the president argued that those football players who chose to kneel during the American national anthem should be fired by the team owners of the National Football League: "Get that son of a b---h off the field right now, he's fired. He's fired!" The kneeling protest refers to a protest by Colin Kaepernick, a football player, due to what he saw as racial injustice in the United States of America.
The comments by the Commander in Chief of the United States set off an immediate firestorm. Some teams, such as the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons who were both playing in London, refused to stand for the national anthem and remained kneeling throughout it. On the other hand, the New York Jets locked arms throughout the anthem, in a show of unity and defiance. The most extreme reaction, however, was probably from the Pittsburgh Steelers, who stayed in their locker rooms while the anthem was being sung. These teams were joined by other teams and players in the NFL.
Reactions to the protests in the media were generally positive. On one hand, some members of society were strongly in favor of the protests. “I salute the NFL, the players, the coaches, the owners and the fans....it was unbelievable. There was solidarity. There was no divide, no divide even from that guy that continues to try to divide us as people,” said Lebron James, a basketball player. Stephen Colbert, a late night comedian, commented: “Kneeling during the national anthem has everything to do with race, just like your presidency. Those players are protesting racial injustice. They're not protesting the American flag. Saying that kneeling is a protest against the flag is like saying Gandhi's hunger strikes were a protest against snacking.”
Members of the SAS Pudong community also had comments to make about the events that unfolded over the weekend.
Kenneth Shu, an 11th grader and a member of the Pudong Press, when asked if Donald Trump’s comments were appropriate, stated: “A President is supposed to act presidential, he is supposed to act sane, he’s supposed to act like a reasonable person. The fact that he is using his twitter feed to blast off random comments….He doesn’t even realize he is being a national embarrassment…"
Deven Mirchandani, another 11th grader, stated: “I think it is ridiculous that they are being attacked for it (protesting during the national anthem). He also added: “However, I think it was unnecessary for the players to make a big deal about it (Trump’s comments).”
It is unclear how the events of this weekend will play out in the larger narrative arc of the Trump presidency. However, one thing is clear: Donald Trump has shown, once again, that he is unafraid of sparking controversy and anger with his comments.