In a surprising turn of events, embattled New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees responded directly to Donald Trump after the president publicly declared his support for the athlete and admonished him for apologizing for his insensitive comments about anthem kneeling protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
Brees took to Instagram and shared the image of a gray square marked “to President Trump.” With that image is a message contradicting the president, making it clear that this issue isn’t about the American flag and that for far too long that excuse has been used to distract from the real issues of racial injustice and police brutality.
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To @realdonaldtrump Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities. We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when? We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.
A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on
The sports world has been rocked the past few days by Brees’ inexplicable decision to once again reiterate his opposition to the kneeling protests and deliberately miss the entire point of the campaign by his fellow players, instead choosing to delegitimize the acts by smearing them as “disrespect to the flag” and using the bad faith framing that the President and white supremacist media worked so hard to promote.
“I’ll never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag or this country,” said Brees, who went on to invoke his grandfathers’ service in World War II and implicitly made the case that the protests against police brutality and systemic racism was somehow an affront to their courage.
Brees provoked the ire of his own teammates and the sports world at large with his remarks, who deemed them insensitive and inappropriate following the murder of George Floyd by police officers and the nationwide protests that have been raging since his killing.
After a day or so of intense criticism, Brees finally apologized — and for once, it looks like he’s finally learned his lesson. We can think of few better ways to make up for his mistake than by publicly contradicting the president and explaining to him what he’s chosen to get wrong time and time again for his own selfish political ambitions.
It means a great deal for a guy like Drew Brees, playing for one of the most fanatical sports fanbases in the Deep South, to say these kinds of things, especially in criticism of the President. Kudos to him for finally seeing the light and doing the right thing.
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Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.