Senate Candidate Beto O’Rourke Defends NFL Players Right to Kneel: ‘I Can Think of Nothing More American’

U.S. Rep Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) of El Paso speaks during a town hall meeting at the Quail Point Lodge on August 16, 2018 in Horseshoe Bay, Texas. ORourke will be challenging incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for the senate seat in the November elections.
Photo: Chris Covatta (Getty Images)

During a campaign appearance last week, Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who’s battling incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, a.k.a. grownup Eddie Munster, for the U.S. Senate, answered a question about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem and if it was disrespectful.

“My short answer is no, I don’t think it’s disrespectful,” O’Rourke said in a video of his speech in Houston, which was shared by Now This News. “Here’s my longer answer but I’m gonna try to make sure that I get this right because I think it’s a really important question. And reasonable people can disagree on this issue. Let’s begin there. And it makes them no less American to come down on a different conclusion on this issue, right?”


O’Rourke’s answer was not only intelligent and well thought out, it was inspirational and sounded almost presidential. He rightfully compared NFL protesters, who are using their platform to shed light on the overpolicing of black and brown communities, to civil rights icons like Rosa Parks and the Freedom Riders. And he moved the conversation back to where it rightfully belongs, because the protest has never been about the flag or veterans or patriotism. He continued:

Peaceful, nonviolent protests, including taking a knee at a football game to point out that Black men, unarmed, Black teenagers, unarmed and Black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement, without accountability, and without justice.”

And this problem—as grave as it is—is not gonna fix itself and they’re frustrated, frankly, with people like me, and those in positions of public trust and power, who have been unable to resolve this or bring justice for what has been done and to stop it from continuing to happen in this country. And so non-violently, peacefully, while the eyes of this country are watching these games, they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it. That is why they are doing it. And I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, any time, anywhere, in any place.”

Watch below and tell me this doesn’t feel like a moment in political history where a politician got it right.

Also, several sports stars agreed.


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About the author

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.