In preseason 2016, Colin Kaepernick, then the back-up quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, sparked the polarizing national anthem protest movement when he told a reporter after being asked about refusing to stand for the anthem, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
While Kaepernick would make clear over the next few months that he held the United States in low regard in general, even going so far as to compare the U.S. government unfavorably to Fidel Castro’s tyrannical communist regime, the central focus of his movement has continued to be criminal justice reform.
On Tuesday, the loudest critic of the anti-anthem protests “delivered what Kaepernick kneeled for,” noted talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, when the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the Jared Kushner-spearheaded criminal justice reform bill in an 87-12 vote.
Limbaugh began the segment by reading from a summary of the bill’s key provisions: It’s going to: “Send up to 4,000 prisoners home by increasing the amount of time inmates can cut off of their sentences due to good behavior. Allow more male and female inmates to serve time in house arrest or halfway homes instead of prison cells, with exceptions for high-risk inmates. Require that prisoners be placed within 500 miles of family. Outlaw shackling during child birth. Mandate the provision of sanitary napkins and tampons to female inmates.”
After sarcastically expressing dismay that the law apparently doesn’t allow men who believe they are women to have sanitary napkins and tampons, Rush continued highlighting the bill’s key points: “Reduce the mandatory penalty from life to 25 years for a third conviction of certain drug offenses, and from 25 to 15 years for a second conviction. Prohibit the doubling up, or ‘stacking,’ of mandatory sentences for certain gun and drug offenses. Give judges more discretion in giving less than the mandatory minimum for certain low-level crimes…. Make the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act retroactive, which changed sentencing guidelines to treat offenses involving crack and powder cocaine equally.”
After underscoring that the bill was opposed by what the media is describing as “hardline conservatives,” Limbaugh tied the initiative to a man who has made clear that he’s no fan of Trump, and vice versa.
Prison reform, he said, “is one of the things that Colin Kaepernick was taking a knee for during the national anthem when he was on the San Francisco 49ers. This is one of the things he was protesting. So now nobody needs to kneel anymore. They don’t need to be any protests because we’ve got prison reform. Trump to the rescue. Trump did it! And these people all protesting Trump, they’re all thinking Trump is the bad guy here, and Trump is the president where this finally happens!”
Limbaugh noted that previous politicians have talked big about comprehensive prison reform, but all failed to take real action. “There isn’t one politician in this country on the federal level who tried to do anything but stroke their chins about this over the years!” said Rush. “Even The One, Barack Hussein O. He didn’t even try to do anything about it seriously. He did not even lift a finger. Hillary Clinton never mentioned it. Yet the Democrats are getting all this credit for having compassion and concern for the nation’s minorities and the prison community. Yet it’s the Trump administration where something happens. Evil white people! Donald Trump and Jared and Ivanka.”
“The Democrats have done nothing on this but talk about it,” Limbaugh added later. “They’ve done nothing but demand it. Left-wing radical protesters have done nothing but protest over it. Nobody’s ever done anything about it until Trump came along. I think the Democrats secretly are not all that in favor of this. They can’t say that out loud, but I think that they worry about anything that helps people be less controlled or dependent on government. Socialism. But they have to support this ’cause this is their voter base, they think. Prison community, the felon vote, this is their constituent. They have to act like they like this, but note they never made it happen.”
Transcript via RushLimbaugh.com