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Kobach calls NFL players 'unpatriotic,' 'ignorant' for taking knee during national anthem


Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, no stranger to the culture wars in America, dived headlong into another one Monday, calling NFL players who protest during the national anthem "unpatriotic" and "ignorant."

In an opinion piece written for the conservative website Breitbart, the Republican firebrand who is now running for governor said the practice of some players kneeling instead of standing with their hand over their hearts during the anthem "has gone from being a stunt to a plague that is infecting the whole league."

"They should be celebrating the American Constitution and the American system, not disrespecting it," Kobach wrote. "If they want to protest incidents of police shootings, they should wear symbolic armbands naming the victims or put stickers on their warmup gear on the sidelines. That would be more specific and it wouldn't disrespect our country."

Kobach is a frequent paid contributor to Breitbart. On Tuesday, Kobach’s campaign committee sent out an email soliciting donations, quoting from the Breitbart column and saying he understands “the importance of respecting those who have fought and died for the freedoms you and I enjoy.”

Kobach's column came on the heels of a speech Friday and a series of tweets over the weekend by President Donald Trump, who said NFL owners should fire any player who refuses to stand during the anthem. Kobach was an outspoken supporter of Trump during the 2016 election and now is vice chair of his Presidential Commission on Election Integrity.

The protest movement began last year when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem as a sign of protest against racial inequality in America and especially police violence against African Americans.

Kaepernick became a free agent after the 2016 season but was not signed by any team this year.

Trump's comments sparked a firestorm of controversy within the NFL, whose commissioner, Roger Goodell, said, "Divisive comments like these show an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."

Several New England Patriots players kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Several New England Patriots players kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

On Sunday, players and teams throughout the league engaged in various acts of solidarity. A number of Kansas City Chiefs players took a knee during the anthem before their game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said after the game that he had been upset by Trump's comments.

"I don’t feel comfortable talking about this stuff. We are athletes playing football," he said, according to post-game quotes released by the team. "I would be lying if I said the comment didn’t upset me. I have been in this league a long time. The league is not perfect, but I am proud of my teammates, coaches, trainers and owners. There are so many great things that go on in this league and this community. There is so much good intention and guys trying to do good things. It definitely struck a chord a little bit especially to see guys get attacked for a peaceful protest. It was frustrating for me.”

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said he supported the players and recognized that many of them have different opinions.

“I think when you get deep down knowing the guys — and I don’t want to speak for them — that’s their privilege to do that, but just to make America a better place. That’s their primary thing," Reid said. "I see the work that they do behind the scenes with kids and they want to make sure those kids grow up in a great place and make it even better than what we have. That’s a beautiful part of it. I understand there are two sides to everything. I get it. I’m a coach. I deal with a lot of two sides.”

Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt also issued a statement, as did most team owners, expressing support for the players who choose to protest.

"I believe in honoring the American flag and supporting all of those whose sacrifices protect the many freedoms we have in this country, including the right to have differences of opinion," Hunt said. "Sports have long been a unifying force — especially in challenging times — and hatred and division have no place in our game. As a nation, we face serious challenges, and I believe as Americans, each of us has a responsibility to engage one another with empathy and humility to gain a better understanding of ways we can work together to solve these difficult issues.”


Calvin Anders 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I do hope this is one of those times when Kobach trying to ride Trump's coat tails blows up in his face. I hope Kansans are beginning to wake up to what a crude, racist, awful person Kobach is. As John Oliver said on Sunday " “When you have lost the moral high ground to Roger *** Goodell, something is horribly wrong!”

Phillip Chappuie 8 months, 3 weeks ago

"They should be celebrating the American Constitution and the American system, not disrespecting it," Kobach wrote.

Hey Kris, guess what? Those players are celebrating the American Constitution and the America system by exercising a freedom of expression and in a safe and peaceful manner that in no way disrespects anything. This is America, not North Korea.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Who gives one ounce of a rat's ass what Kobach thinks or does?? He is as stupid and ignorant as his "hero" non-president Chump.

Jillian Andrews 8 months, 3 weeks ago

That's a whole lotta hypocrisy spewing out yer mouth there, KKKris.

Justin Hoffman 8 months, 3 weeks ago

As usual Kobach nails it perfectly. As usual liberals go into a fevered hissy fit.

Richard L Wagner 8 months, 3 weeks ago

It seems as if Trump and Kobach are the only ones having a reaction (hissy fit)

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Nazis have a right to protest, but NFL players don't? They can wave traitor flags, but kneeling for the anthem is bad? The Wetboro jerks have 1st amendment rights? The Constitution is our government, not a song, not a piece of cloth. And the first amendment applies to everyone. And maybe we could discuss what the protest is about? Oh, but you conservatives like police brutality, right? I mean Trump told the police to be rough, didn't he?

These are peaceful protests. You whine and complain about protests that turn into riots, You whine about ones that block the streets. You whine about peaceful ones. So you apparently support police brutality. You apparently want the police to pull Black men over for no reason. At least have the guts to admit it, then go make a white hood.


Greg Cooper 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Nails what, Justin? Can you get out of your playpen and write us a list of what Chump just nailed? Other than, of course, the Constitution to the wall of Chump Tower or the restroom door at Mar A Lago.

Brett McCabe 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Compulsory adoration of a government or its emblems is the first step towards giving up your independence. The anthem at sporting events should be eliminated all together - I don't attend games as a way of expressing my love for a country. I go to watch a game, just like I go to watch a movie, or a concert or a theatrical performance.

63 million Americans voted for a pervert, white supremacist and failed businessman to be president. Apparently, America isn't so great after all.

Richard L Wagner 8 months, 3 weeks ago

"Compulsory adoration of a government, as in N Korea, or the Third Reich

Calvin Anders 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I think the big problem here is that on some level the Trumpster and KKKris have coopted the message of these protests. We are now talking almost exclusively about whether it is appropriate for these players to protest. We are largely ignoring the issue of whether it is appropriate for the police to keep shooting all these unarmed black people. Certainly none of the media seem to be focused on the issues that inspired the original protests. They would rather cover Trump trading insults with sports celebs via Twitter.

Steve Jacob 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Just another distraction. The Moore win in Alabama tonight is a start to the Republican civil war that will end in a midterm slaughter like the Democrats faced in 2010.

Michael Kort 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Is there anyone ?...........(.anyone) that anyone can think of ?................ that Trump has not got into a word fight with or made some vile remark about .............yet ?

Trump has the attention span of a barroom drunk ( or maybe a fly ? ) that is looking for a fight with anyone and anything .

He can't even talk about the disaster of the 3 million people in Puerto Rico without mentioning the territories bankrupt state and their accrued debts, as if their bills were payable in full to be added to the immediate cost of their disaster.....( or what will happen ? )...........that is not exactly THE DONALD TRUMP WAY OF FILING FOR BANKRUPTCY..... where you just get on your private jet and fly away leaving banks, contractors, shareholders, bondholders and employees and their families in the rubble .

Larry Sturm 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Kobach and Trump are the people that are unamerican..

Ken Lassman 8 months, 3 weeks ago

When a guy goes down on his knee to propose to his sweetheart, is this a sign of disrespect? When a running back crosses the zero yardline and kneels on one knee, is this an in-your-face protest? How this universal sign of deference and respect has been interpreted as disgusting and disrespectful is the new projection/interpretation that is being foisted upon the gesture by those who don't like to admit that protests can be done respectfully and honorably.

Bob Zielinski 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Where is the 'zero yard line'? I have been watching football for years and have never encountered this area of the field. I'm just messin' with you but seriously, are you from Kuala Lumpur or somewhere in that general part of the world?

Ken Lassman 8 months, 3 weeks ago

So just for grins, I went to the internet, where everything is true, and lo and behold: the zero yard line!

That illustration was made by some guy from the UK, by the way: crazy guy--he didn't even label the one yard line! Yep, Kuala Lumpur was in my back yard, just south of the KU campus. Remember all of those yellow barracks buildings on the south side of campus back in the days before Robinson gym and the parking lot was gravel? After going to Memorial Stadium for 2 bucks and sitting in the "U" end of the stadium above the zero yard line, me and my Malaysian buddy would play Koala Lumpur with the discarded Coke cups that were big enough to make bullhorns out of, stacking them up as far as we could reach. That kid later designed the Petronas Twin Towers.....just kidding! Thanks for making my morning.

William D'Armond 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I guess based on my readings of this I am on the opposite side of things here. I am all for 1st amendment rights, but here is what is baffling to me. The originating member of this was Colin Kapernik. He was all for protesting, but then didn't even vote. How many of these "Silent Protesters" are doing things beyond what is shown on TV for 2 minutes? That is where my problem lies with this. The timeliness of the protest, during the national anthem, is what bothers me.

As a veteran, I signed up so that my children could have every right that I have, that many nations lack. In doing so, it gives freedom of speech it idiots like KKK, BLM, ANTIFA and the NAACP and any other idiot that wants to flap his gums about what they feel. It also gives people the right to protest peacefully.

Many people say that the flag and the anthem are not representative of the American Veteran. If that is the case, then why do they drape the caskets of the veterans that were KIA (Killed In Action) with the flag? The original flag was actually a battle standard in the Revolutionary War. The National Anthem, is a reminder to all Americans what it took to gain our freedoms and liberties from the British. This is why so many military veterans are upset over this issue.

There is another view that is out there as well that many do not know or have not seen. Our Federal government has paid the NFL, their owners (which turns into salaries for players) to inject Patriotism into the league by having Veterans, Law Enforcement, Firefighters on the field, with the flag and the playing of the Anthem. Therefore, this is a blatant disregard for the funding they receive. Knowing that taxpayer dollars are going to this organization who essentially is letting their players protest during their working hours is egregious.

I completely get the United we stand against Trump, NFL Rally this weekend. But lets all be honest, if you are a non-union employee, and you decide you wanted to peacefully protest each day you worked for the first 15 minutes of your work day, how many of you would have a job 2 weeks later?

Prove to me you are doing more than showing your ass on television during the playing of my national anthem, and the waving of our colors, and I will respect your decision to protest. The Bennett brothers, Malcolm Jenkins, and a few others are pushing their perspective communities. I respect their protests, the rest of the fools, who are jumping on the wagon, are as much an idiot as Kapernik. Taking a knee doesn't invoke change, it is just adding to the divide in this country.

Greg Cooper 8 months, 3 weeks ago

And Kaepernik has donated around a million dollars to charities. And has explained why he started his own personal "protest", which is apparently not enough for a lot of the population to accept, let alone understand. All that sounds as if he is putting his personal beliefs into action. How about everyone else?

Jason Randall 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Originally it was former Green Beret and former Seahawks player Nate Boyer who suggested taking the knee over sitting. This was back in 2016 and no one remembers it now.

Here is why he suggested taking a knee over sitting, respect: "Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother's grave, you know, to show respect. When we're on a patrol, you know, and we go into a security halt, we take a knee, and we pull security." - Nate Boyer

I too am a veteran and although I don't necessarily agree with their actions, I am not offended by others exercising their freedom of expression, that is the beauty of freedom


Greg Cooper 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I wasn't aware of that. Thanks. Seems as if more than one person has taken his personal beliefs and made them public. Good for them.

Linda Aikins 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you for your service! However, he is not kneeling to protest the flag. He kneeled to protest treatment of black americans. However, Trump is 0-30 in getting anything passed. You will find that when he loses, he pouts like a huge chuckie doll and takes something in the news and makes a mountain out of it to deflect attention to his latest failure.

That is the case with this one. Please do not be upset and think they are protesting the flag. That is just the spin started by a loser.

Richard Heckler 8 months, 3 weeks ago

So says an unethical voter suppression politician ...... who supports ALEC that which designs legislation behind closed doors.

Bill Turner 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Man, this whole kneeling for the national anthem thing has really hit a nerve among white nationalists/conservatives. donald drumpf wants it to stop... I wonder what will happen when he doesn't get his way.

Richard Aronoff 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, the players have a right to protest, notwithstanding that many of them make more money in one year than a typical fan earns in a lifetime. And fans have a right to protest. TV ratings are down over 10%, attendance is down and merchandising of NFL products is down. I even saw a fan burn his season tickets on the news this morning.

But Goodell and company are a bunch of hypocrites.

The NFL hasn't always been so supportive of its players engaging in free speech on the field.

Last year the NFL barred the Dallas Cowboys from wearing a decal on their helmet honoring the five police officers killed in a domestic terror attack.

The NFL also banned the Tennessee Titan's linebacker, Avery Williamson, from honoring 9/11 victims by wearing cleats that read "9-11/01" and "Never Forget" on the 15th anniversary of the terror attack.

The NFL fined Robert Griffin III $10,000 for wearing a t-shirt during a press conference that said "Operation Patience." (The shirt was created by Reebok and players are required to only wear clothing sold by Nike.)

RGIII also ran into trouble with the league for wearing a shirt that said "Know Jesus, Know Peace."

The NFL has banned players from wearing Beats headphones on the field (doing so violated the league's deal with Bose).

The Steelers' William Gay was fined for wearing purple cleats, which he did to raise awareness for domestic violence (an issue the NFL claims the league takes seriously)

While the NFL “rule book” does not address the national anthem. Here is what the NFL’s operations manual says about the anthem according to an NFL spolesperson:

The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.

Joe Masterson 8 months, 3 weeks ago

If you are going to repost a comment someone else posted on another site, it is common courtesy to cite that source, otherwise you are engaging in plagiarism.

Richard Aronoff 8 months, 3 weeks ago

For those of you who think this taking a knee business is a protest against the president, please note that the first time Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem Barack Obama was president.

Richard Heckler 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Scope of Puerto Rico damage so vast that U.S. aid hard to see …….


Scope of Puerto Rico damage so vast that U.S. aid hard to see ….. they have not seen anyone from the Puerto Rican government, much less the Federal Emergency Management Agency, since the storm tore up the island Sept. 20, killing at least 16 people and leaving nearly all 3.4 million people in Puerto Rico without power and most without water.

Read also: Dozens of Canadians still need help in hurricane-struck islands

"People say FEMA is going to help us," Valentin said Tuesday as she showed Associated Press journalists around the sodden wreckage of her home. "We're waiting."

Donald Trump where are you ?????

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