HANGZHOU, China (CBS/AP) — President Barack Obama says San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who is refusing to stand for the national anthem is the latest in a long line of professional athletes who have exercised their constitutional right to make a statement about social issues.
The president was asked at a news conference Monday about Kaepernick’s protest gesture. Obama said he has no doubt that the San Francisco 49ers player is sincere and “cares about some real, legitimate issues.”
Kaepernick has been heavily criticized since starting his silent protest. He’s said it’s not an anti-American gesture but a means to bring attention to racial injustice.
The president said Kaepernick’s gesture was a “tough thing” for military service members to accept, according to the Washington Post.
“There are a lot of ways you can do it,” Obama said. “As a general matter when it comes to the flag and the national anthem and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who fought for us — that is a tough thing for them to get past to then hear what his deeper concerns are. But I don’t doubt his sincerity. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. If nothing else, he’s generated more conversation about issues that have to be talked about.”
The president added, “You’ve heard me talk in the past about the need for us to have an active citizenry,” Obama said. “Sometimes that’s messy and controversial and gets people angry and frustrated. But I’d rather have young people that are engaged in the argument and trying to think through how they can be part of our democratic process than people just sitting on the sidelines not participating at all.
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