U.S. House Republican Speaker Paul Ryan told journalists on Tuesday that athletes who protest during the national anthem have the right to do so, but that he believes such demonstrations should not take place during "The Star-Spangled Banner."
"People are clearly within their rights to express themselves how they see fit. My own view though is that we shouldn't do it on the anthem. The national anthem, our flag, and the people who defend it, represent it, that should be celebrated everywhere and always, and that's my opinion," Ryan said.
Ryan's comments come the morning after Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee herself kneeled in protest on the House floor, denouncing Trump for calling athletes who protest "son of the bitch."
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U.S. President Donald Trump ramped up his fight with the National Football League earlier on Tuesday, calling on the popular league to ban players from kneeling in protest at games while the national anthem is played.
Transcript of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee's speech on floor of the U.S. House of Representatives:
We simply ask for the dignity and respect to not call our mothers a son-of-a-B. I heard a young man who is an NFL player say that he will kneel from now on!
The only reason he is doing this is that someone had the lack of judgment to provoke the situation and call their mothers a name. I refuse to accept that as a standard of leadership for the highest office in the world.
Even if you never understand it, sir, if you think you're playing to your base, we will continue to stand in the gap. And racism is going to be under our foot. You know where else it is going to be? Under our knees.
We in the CBC have always stood for what is right. There is no basis in the First Amendment that says you can not kneel in the national anthem.