CNN anchor Don Lemon believes standing for the national anthem at NFL games and the pageantry surrounding it are examples of “fake patriotism.”
While discussing President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel the White House celebration for the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday evening, Lemon also accused Trump of not understanding what “real patriotism” is.
“This isn’t about some fake patriotism, about standing or some pageantry. Real patriotism is understanding what the Constitution means for all Americans and abiding by the Constitution, not doing some false presentation that you pretend to be a patriot while other people are around you going to the concession stands, getting beer, or fights in the stands or talking to each other with their baseball caps on,” Lemon said Tuesday evening on CNN. “That is not real patriotism. Real patriotism is understanding that all of us are created equal and we have the choice to stand, kneel or sit, or even attend a football game if we choose to.”
Lemon said Trump and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders “have it all wrong” about patriotism, and he highlighted the White House press secretary’s remarks about America being a great nation because “we stand during the national anthem.”
“What makes this country great is that we have the choice to stand or not to stand during the national anthem. This is not a dictatorship,” Lemon continued. “We don’t have to do anything in this country.”
During a recent appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell expressed a similar claim, saying the NFL’s “hypocrisy is so profound” on the issue.
“Take a look at any NFL stadium, and people are getting hot dogs, people are getting beers. They’re not standing and saluting the anthem, for a large part. They’re not. They’re distracted. They’re fans at an event,” Mitchell said last month. “And the fact that the players do not have this freedom of speech and that no one is even thinking about Colin Kaepernick … who’s been basically blackballed and can’t be hired — it’s just outrageous.”
Lemon added that Trump knows that asking athletes to stand for the national anthem “animates his base,” and “he is going to continue on with it.”
“He cannot be a unifier. He cannot be the unifier in chief. I don’t know what it is about him that he can’t do it,” Lemon said. “It seems that this is an issue where he could actually bring the country together, bring the team and talk to team owners and players, and try to get them to come to some sort of consensus about this.”