Asked by one of his Fox & Friends for his thoughts on the NFL’s new anthem policy, Donald Trump sounded satisfied on Wednesday with the outcome of his long-running quest to stop black athletes from protesting peacefully on the field before games. And then, for good measure, the president of the United States suggested that maybe, just maybe, those same athletes “shouldn’t be in the country” at all.
“Well, I think that’s good,” Trump told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade in a recorded interview that aired Thursday, referring to the NFL’s new policy aimed at ending the silent protests of police violence against black Americans and other structural racism. “I don’t think people should be staying in the locker rooms, but I still think it’s good.”
And then for the big finish, Trump leaned even further into his us-versus-them vision of America: “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem—or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
Under the NFL’s new policy, protesting the anthem—or failing “to stand and show respect” for the flag and the anthem, as the league put it—will result in a fine for a player’s team. Players or personnel who don’t want to take part in this compelled patriotism will have the option of staying in the locker room. As my colleague Jeremy Stahl put it, with the announcement, the NFL made it clear that it stands with Trump and against the predominantly black contingent of protesting players.