By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, September 26, 2017, Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, drafted a letter urging President Donald J. Trump to honor the American flag and anthem by stopping all Department of Defense and federal government support for professional sporting leagues or teams that display disrespect for our flag and national anthem. Brooks circulated the letter to House colleagues for support.
In the letter, Congressman Brooks stated, “Federal law about the American flag and National anthem is clear. 4 U.S.C. § 8 states, ‘the flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing’ and adds that ‘no disrespect should be shown to the flag.’ Further, 36 U.S.C. § 301 states, ‘During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart.’ The National Football League (NFL) is disrespecting America’s flag and national anthem. The NFL’s conduct is not only unpatriotic and deplorable, it also conflicts with federal law.”
Brooks continued, “The foregoing considered, we respectfully ask that you withhold all federal taxpayer dollars that directly or indirectly support (via advertisements, marketing contracts, or any other direct or indirect financial patronage) any professional sports team or league that refuses to display proper decorum for America’s flag or National anthem.”
Brooks wrote to the President, “The United States flag and our national anthem are emblems of a nation that has arguably been the most free, wealthiest, most militarily powerful, and greatest nation in world history.”
Brooks quoted President Ronald W. Reagan (R): “As we think back over the history of our nation’s flag, we remember that the story of its early years was often one of hardship and trials, sometimes a fight for simple survival… As the American Republic grew and prospered and new stars were added to the flag, the ideal of freedom grew and prospered. From the rolling hills of Kentucky to the shores of California to the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon, our pioneers carried our flag before them, a symbol of the indomitable spirit of a free people. And let us never forget that in honoring our flag, we honor the American men and women who have courageously fought and died for it over the last 200 years, patriots who set an ideal above any consideration of self. Our flag flies free today because of their sacrifice.”
Brooks said that in FY2017, the Department of Defense (DOD) is estimated to spend $574 million on military service component advertising programs and total federal spending on advertising and public relations is roughly $1 billion per year. “We see no reason why federal taxpayers should spend any money, directly or indirectly, supporting professional sports teams or leagues that disrespect America’s flag or anthem.”
Brooks wrote, “The NFL and its players and teams assert they have a First Amendment Freedom of Speech right to disrespect America’s flag and national anthem contrary to federal law. Perhaps. But American taxpayers certainly have the right to stop their hard-earned tax dollars being used to support disrespect for America’s flag and national anthem.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said in a statement, “Had the NFL chosen to enforce its own operations manual that requires players to respect the National Anthem by being on the field, standing and otherwise showing respect, the continuing protest would cease. The players have no First Amendment right to protest. The NFL has refused to allow players to wear decals or armbands or engage in other protests or show of support without prior approval. If the NFL or the football teams want to stop the protests, they have the right to do so.”
Former San Francisco Forty-niner Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protests to highlight what he claimed were injustices being committed against Black people. Kaepernick’s protests were joined by dozens of other athletes in the 2016 season. San Francisco replaced Kaerpernick with Brian Hoyer in the offseason and Kaepernick has not been signed by a team to this point in the 2017 season. A few players, most notably Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, kept protesting.
On Friday, September 22 President Donald J. Trump (R) came to Alabama and told the crowd at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field, right now. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!”
The comment enflamed the situation in the NFL and many more players, in some cases entire teams, protested. TV commentators, team owners, players, etc. have denounced the President’s comments as being divisive.
Some conservatives including the President, are calling on citizens to boycott the NFL.