Prof: NFL kneeling rule example of Trump's 'authoritarianism'

A University of Kansas professor called the NFL’s new policy against protesting the national anthem an example of the “alarming trend of authoritarianism” under President Trump.

“There’s nothing sacred about the national anthem because the Constitution has a wall between the sacred and secular work of the state,” Professor Randal Maurice Jelks declared in a statement posted to KU’s News website.

“The pressure that NFL owners have received from the POTUS is bothersome to them, I am sure, but the action they’ve taken to economically penalize players for taking a knee is an alarming trend of authoritarianism,” Jelks added. “This does not seem in keeping with the Bill of Rights or dissent.”

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The NFL’s new policy will allow the league to fine players who do not show respect for the flag and the anthem, but does allow players to remain in the locker room during the national anthem, if they so choose. 

Jelks notes that this may “open another can of worms” by preventing players from kneeling for the anthem. 

“Imagine if players decide as a team to not come out for the national anthem. Or if one-third of the team decides not to come out,” he observes. “The owners have forgotten that the U.S. Constitution protects the right to protest, even the flag itself.”

“What the NFL owners should be most worried about is not player protest,” he concludes, “but the concussions that players get playing the sport that jeopardizes it more than Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee on the sideline during the playing of the national anthem.”

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Jelks told Campus Reform that the authoritarianism in the Trump administration is reflective in the attitudes surrounding the “sacralization” of the national anthem and the flag. 

He also condemned what he described as attempts by league owners to make the flag a “religious item,” noting that “many...are the same age as Mister Trump.”

Dr. Jelks is a professor of American and African American studies, and an expert on African American social movements who has authored two books. He has also been a critic of Trump on Twitter, and has claimed that Marxist ideology was correct. 

Follow this author on Twitter: @PeytonDillberg