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The head of Donald Trump’s “diversity coalition” got righteously schooled Sunday afternoon when he tried to defend Trump’s attacks on the First Amendment rights of NFL players.
The controversy started when Trump called on NFL owners to fire players who choose to kneel, rather than stand, during the national anthem to protest against racism. Trump continued his attacks in a series of tweets over the weekend, implying that those engaging in protest do not love the country.
On MSNBC’s ‘Live With Alex Witt’ Sunday afternoon, Bruce LeVell, the executive director of Trump’s national diversity coalition, slammed the players for peacefully protesting and dismissed their concerns about the state of race relations in America.
LeVell said it wasn’t fair to the owners that their players were exercising their First Amendment rights on the field — an odd defense, given that NFL owners have spoken out on behalf of their players in the wake of Trump’s reprehensible attacks.
LeVell also suggested that NFL players were contractually obligated to sing or stand during the national anthem, echoing Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s comments earlier in the day — which is, in fact, not true at all.
“Start your own league if you want to protest,” LeVell said.
MSNBC guest and former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, whose career was cut short after he became an outspoken advocate of marriage equality, wasn’t having any of it.
After hearing LeVell’s defense of Trump, Kluwe let loose on the president’s adviser for suggesting that NFL players shouldn’t “push their platform” on others by protesting inequality.
KLUWE: Well, I think I just listened to the most disgusting piece of fascist propaganda that I’ve heard since 1930’s-era Germany. The idea that people can only be valued for the amount of money they can provide for a corporation is antithetical to the entirety of what America stands for. Let’s not forget that, at one time, slavery was legal. That was a contract that you could follow. So to say that because someone has a job, that they must not protest against inequality within their society, frankly, is unbelievable. I don’t see how you can consider yourself an American and say that kind of stuff. I just — I don’t get it. How do you sleep at night, by saying that?
This isn’t the first time LeVell has faced criticism for defending the indefensible.
Earlier this month, he tried to excuse Trump’s “both sides” comments equivocating neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, with counter-demonstrators protesting against white supremacy — a rather bizarre stance for the head of a “diversity coalition” to take.
LeVell insisted the president was simply trying to condemn “hate everywhere,” prompting CNN commentator Keith Boykin to respond: “Don’t be a hypocrite like your boss.”
When you work for Trump, though, being a hypocrite appears to be part of the job description.
This article first appeared in ShareBlue.
Caroline Orr is a behavioral scientist, political analyst, and freelance journalist.