Opinion: Pence’s anthem gaffe

Charles Rankin

This week, as has happened for three straight weeks, members of various NFL teams kneeled, sat, stayed in the locker room or showed others forms of protest during the National Anthem as it played in 14 stadiums around the country.

These acts are nothing new as Colin Kaepernick began this act during the 2016 preseason. Something about this week’s protests was different however.

Vice President Mike Pence attended the game being hosted by the Indianapolis Colts. Following protests by around 20 players, Pence left the game shortly after the National Anthem. On Twitter, Pence explained his decision by saying, “I left today’s Colts game because [the President] and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag or our National Anthem.”

It was revealed that President Donald Trump had asked Pence to leave if any player protested. The only problem here is that the Colts were playing the 49ers, the very same team that Kaepernick was playing for until this season. Trump, Pence and nearly everyone else knew that there were going to be protests at this particular game. It was so apparent to Pence’s team that he was going to leave that they told pool reporters who were accompanying the vice president to not go into the stadium because the vice president “might” leave the game early.

Moreover, Pence traveled to this game from Las Vegas and then left to travel to Los Angeles afterward. If you know anything about U.S. geography, you know that LA is west of Las Vegas and that Indianapolis is much further east. I think it’s stupid every time I have a connecting flight in Dallas when I’m traveling to places like Minnesota or Chicago. This administration has been embroiled in scandal upon scandal, one of the latest being the resignation of the secretary of health and human services, Tom Price, for using an expensive, private plane for official government trips. And now the president is having his administration use the government’s planes to fly 1600 miles out of the way for the benefit of a political cause. We live in a nation that is already divided on nearly as many issues as there are people. Political stunts like this one are not the way to bridge those divides.

When disasters such as mass shootings, hurricanes and wildfires threaten to take the lives of hundreds of Americans this is not the time to make a statement that will undoubtedly divide the very nation this administration is striving to lead.