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COMMENTARY
Mike Pence
(NonDoc)

If Vice President Mike Pence had announced he left Sunday’s NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Indianapolis Colts because the teams stink, he would have seemed more genuine.

Instead, the former governor of Indiana released tweets saying he would not stand idly by as football players protest injustice and racial prejudice in a manner that “disrespects” the United States, its military or its flag.

Wait, wrong tweet. That’s the one Vice President Pence sent two hours before kickoff when he was more ready for football than a mildly sober Hank Williams Jr.

But two minutes of non-violent protest later …

There it is — unbridled ironic patriotism from a man who wrote that the Disney movie Mulan proved that “women in the military” is a “bad idea.”

Of course, that was decades before Pence joined the presidential ticket of Donald Trump, a man who derided U.S. Sen. John McCain specifically and insulted American veterans who were prisoners of war in general. (McCain, of course, had his plane shot down during the Vietnam War, ejecting into a lake where he ultimately inflated his life vest with his teeth because he had sustained multiple broken limbs.)

‘Stand for equality, justice, unity’

For Mike Pence to claim he will not dignify “any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem” is to ignore all the times he — and the man he chose to follow into the White House — has.

What NFL players did in Indianapolis this weekend pales in comparison to Trump’s McCain insult. From ESPN’s explanation:

For the second week in a row, the 49ers had more than 20 players kneeling during the national anthem with their hands over their hearts. Teammates stood behind the kneeling players with one hand on a kneeling teammate’s shoulder and the other over their hearts.

The Colts wore black T-shirts with the words “We Will” on the front and “Stand for equality, justice, unity, respect, dialogue, opportunity” on the back for the second straight week. The players stood with their arms locked during the anthem.

The ability to make peaceful statements in support of equality, justice, unity, respect, dialogue and opportunity is precisely what the U.S. flag stands for.

It remains disheartening to know that the current president and vice president willfully disregard and speak against that sentiment in an attempt to score political points with rhetoric about a military they have previously insulted.

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William W. Savage III holds a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. He covered two sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature for eCapitol.net before working in health care for six years. He is a nationally certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.