Monday morning newspapers (remember those?) and websites are filled with remarkable photos and stories of NFL players kneeling in solidarity at games across the country Sunday after President Trump bizarrely injected himself into the controversy over players using the national anthem as a vehicle of protest. His calls for fans to boycott games and his reference to a player who kneels as a "son of a bitch" even drew criticisms from at least 14 team owners, including some who rank as his supporters. Even noted Trump supporter Tom Brady said Trump was wrong.
And the president even drew the ire of NBA fans and players after a weekend Twitter rant singled out basketball star Stephen Curry, causing LeBron James — who has as many Twitter followers as Trump — to call the president a "bum."
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
But one sport that doesn't seem fazed? NASCAR.
USA Today reports that no one took a knee or otherwise protested during the national anthem Sunday at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in Loudon, N.H. And in fact, two team owners threw their solidarity behind the president.
"Get you a ride on a Greyhound bus when the national anthem is over," team owner Richard Childress responded when asked what he would do if one of his employees protested during the anthem. "I told them anyone who works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people have gave their lives for it. This is America."
Added Trump supporter Richard Petty, who of course was a seven-time championship driver:
"Anybody that don't stand up for that ought to be out of the country. Period," Petty said. "If they don't appreciate where they're at ... what got them where they're at? The United States."
Petty, Childress and Trump miss the point that the First Amendment right to protest is a key part of what makes the United States worthy of respect, and what so many people gave their lives for. So are the NFL players showing disrespect — or are their protests actually quite the opposite?
Trump last month disbanded two of his high-profile business advisory councils after he drew criticism from automotive executives, including General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who spoke out for diversity and inclusion after Trump's comments about the deadly racial violence in Charlottesville, Va. Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier quit after the president announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. Some automakers had sought Trump's support for relaxing vigorous Obama-era emissions and fuel-economy standards and his calls to lower corporate tax rates. And Ford has been in the president's crosshairs over manufacturing its vehicles overseas, particularly in Mexico. It seems safe to say that automotive corporations will join the others in politics and business who are keeping their distance from the president the more he continues to divide public opinion and court controversy.
Is NASCAR Trump's last remaining ally in the automotive world? Perhaps not even NASCAR, or at least not its leading light. Monday morning, in response to Childress and Petty, NASCAR's 14-time most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., seemed to have the last word, in a tweet in which he quoted President Kennedy:
All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 25, 2017
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK