News and Commentary

Bret Stephens: Conservatives Should Stand With The Kneelers

Bret Stephens of The New York Times thinks that conservatives should support the NFL athletes disrespecting the flag, arguing that it would be the conservative thing to to do.

Appearing on Hardball with Chris Matthews, the duo discussed a biased Reuters/Ipsos poll showing that Americans opposed President Trump weighing in on the NFL debate, failing to mention that an even higher number of Americans despise spitting on the flag.

Matthews began: “Listen to this, 53% of adults, according to a new Reuters poll just out tonight, think it’s inappropriate for Trump to comment — even comment on how NFL players observe national anthem. Even comment on it. Unfortunately, we know Trump doesn’t go gunning for 53%, he likes that smaller percent, in the 30s that’s loyal to him.”

Stephens, an avowed Never Trumper, then hit at conservatives for not supporting the kneelers.

“It’s amusing to hear conservatives, I think, rightfully complain about excessive campus orthodoxies and then go berserk over Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players trying to break this other taboo and be iconoclast and champions of freedom in their own right,” said Stephens.

Then Stephens repeated the leftist line that standing for the flag means some kind of worship and that kneeling is equally respectful of the values it represents.

We don’t worship the flag as a totem like it’s the obelisk that descends on planet Earth in 2001: A Space Odyssey. We — we admire the flag because of what it represents and the chief thing that it represents, is freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to think unpopular thoughts, despite the booing of crowds or the views of a President intent on rabble rousing.

Except that’s not how it works. None of the NFL’s detractors deny that they have a right to spit on the flag and only assert that they are jerks for doing so, and for incoherent reasons, and deserve the scorn that is coming their way.

Not that anyone should expect a reasonable response from Stephens in the age of Trump, who has repeatedly never given the President an inch. His most egregious criticism of this administration came when news broke that Vice President Mike Pence avoids having dinner alone with women for the sake of his marriage.

Like a Manhattanite elitist, and certainly not like a conservative, Stephens had this to say about Pence faithfully and prudently living out his marriage:

So, the most charitable word to describe Stephens here is “hypocrite” for demanding that conservatives stand with elitist athletes spitting on the flag while blasting the Vice President as some kind of Ayatollah for dedicating himself to his wife.