Opinion: With his talk of protesters disrespecting the flag, Trump has brought back 1960s-era divisiveness

In a campaign rally in Alabama on Sept. 22, President Trump said NFL players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired.
(Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

To the editor: Nowadays, as a baby boomer, I am feeling a sense of deja vu, like I am reliving the 1960s. The divisive days of “love it or leave it” are here again, and either you proudly stand and sing the national anthem as a patriot, or you kneel and do not appreciate the brave individuals who fought for our freedoms. (“Donald Trump’s cheap sports-venue patriotism comes without any pain or sacrifice,” Opinion, Sept. 25)

Just as in the ‘60s, when there was good reason to question governmental authority and peacefully protest for racial and gender equality, it is not an either/or proposition. It is, as many have realized, both. You can love your country and still believe that there is terrible injustice.

This is not intended as an insult to our brave first responders and military. However, failing to understand that the issues of the day are complex and require thoughtful citizens to come together in more than just a ceremonial way is to ignore what is essential for our collective survival.


The true heroes of our time are people like Jimmy Kimmel, John McCain and, yes, Colin Kaepernick — people who put their livelihoods at risk to speak truth to power. One could only imagine what would have happened if more people had done that in Nazi Germany before and during World War II.

Mark Brown, Sherman Oaks

I get really sick of white-collar warriors like Trump pontificating about heroism and patriotism.

— Robert Vukovic, Salton City, Calif.


To the editor: I’m proud of our flag and national anthem. Having served under our flag as active duty military for many years, I once found myself in a place I didn’t want to be, fighting a war I didn’t start, and leaving behind 27 good friends alongside whom I served.

Notwithstanding our 1st Amendment right to free speech, which I and many others personally defended (among other things), I find professional athletes kneeling when the rest of us stand during our national anthem to be offensive and divisive. Just because they have that right to do so doesn’t make it right.

These athletes earn more in one season that I will earn in my lifetime. I would hope they could find a more appropriate venue to exercise rights and show unity. Until that happens, I intend to boycott all professional sporting events exhibiting such behavior (and their sponsors), which is my right.

Dennis L. Solomon, Camarillo


To the editor: As a white American football fan, I am struggling to figure out what is more distressing: the hypocrisy of the most disrespectful person to ever occupy the Oval Office, or the hypocrisy of white American football fans like myself.

I found some remarkable irony in President Trump’s suggestion that fans should leave football stadiums when black players are exercising their constitutional rights to protest an incredibly real and serious social issue.

Every Sunday at stadiums while the national anthem is being played, there are hundreds if not thousands of people who remain in parking lots cracking open their 10th beer of the morning. Fans wander around texting or wait in line to buy overpriced beer from billionaires while the anthem is playing.

Why don’t these patriotic folks enter the stadium, stand at attention and show the respect many of them are demanding from all NFL players? The idea that young black men quietly kneeling at attention during the anthem for a noble cause is somehow more disrespectful than what occurs at every stadium during every game is a question we all should ponder.

Scott Loeding, San Diego


To the editor: I get really sick of white-collar warriors like Trump pontificating about heroism and patriotism.

I was a participant in the Vietnam War and never thought of my involvement as an act of patriotism. For some reason I knew I had to be there, but once that happened it wasn’t about God and country, it was about survival and revenge.

The real patriots were the Americans pushing back against the war, including veterans from Vietnam and other past conflicts. It’s my belief that the war was brought to an end when virtually everyone in this country was touched by the tragedy and finally had enough.

The same applies to warriors for equality and justice today. These domestic heroes and patriots should be exalted and emulated, not derided by the president of the United States.

Robert Vukovic, Salton City, Calif.

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