The debate between President Donald Trump and the NFL over standing for the national anthem has implications for the future of the United States if it continues, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who fears the NFL will succumb to pressure and abandon the song’s performance.
“In the 1970s there were places that did back down because the tension and hostility of the Vietnam War became so great,” Gingrich told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” anchor Bill Hemmer. “I think there is a gradual erosion underway. You see this on the college campuses, you see it in the newsrooms. You certainly see it in Hollywood. And the erosion is away from thinking that America is a unique place, a place worth admiring, a place worth respecting, that our founding fathers really matter.”
Gingrich pointed out that there is an “underlying attitude” when it comes to dismantling American symbols and icons, and he’s worried about that.
“As a historian I think we’ve done a great deal for 200 years to try to take people from everywhere in the world and bring them together as Americans,” Gingrich said. “The national anthem and the flag are part of that. We can argue about many things. We can have many different philosophies but agreeing together we’re Americans has been an enormous source of strength for us.”
However, compared to moving on and talking about tax cuts or other issues, the NFL matter will not last a long time unless it’s fanned up further, said Gingrich.
“Certainly last Sunday the league was not exactly backing down in any way,” he added.
Gingrich said he does not have a problem with teams and their owners when it comes to linking arms and standing, as long as they stand “respectfully.” He said he also does not mind if a team, like the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend, does not want to come onto the field until after the anthem, as that’s what teams had done in the past.
“What I really reject as a citizen is that I’m supposed to watch a sporting event and the entrance price is to have somebody disrespect the United States of America and disrespect our national anthem and our flag,” said Gingrich. “I think it’s charging me a price that’s inappropriate. It’s a sporting event for Pete sake. There should be someplace in America where we can relax and be Americans without having to wear our politics on our sleeves.”
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