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Malliotakis, de Blasio take opposing sides in Trump-NFL war

National Anthem debate hits NYC mayoral race

September 27, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In this photo taken on Sunday, Sept. 24, Buffalo Bills players take a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos in Orchard Park, N.Y. AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File
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The controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem before games in response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of them has filtered down to New York City politics. 

Both of the major candidates in New York City’s mayoral race have spoken out about the issue that is dividing the nation.

Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis and Democratic incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio are on opposite sides of the national divide. 

Malliotakis blasted NFL players for refusing to stand during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” in football stadiums. Many players got down on one knee to protest Trump, who reportedly called athletes who refuse to stand for the national anthem “sons of bitches.” 

Malliotakis came down on the president’s side and accused the millionaire athletes of disrespecting the American flag and the Military. 

“There are few things more American than football. I am deeply disappointed that NFL players, who are living the American dream, are showing such disrespect for our nation’s anthem and flag. The American flag is far more than a colored cloth; it represents our shared freedoms and honors those that have fought and died to preserve them,” she said in a statement.  

“Among those freedoms is free speech. Thanks to our men and women in the military, NFL players have the right to express their personal political views anywhere; except for in their workplace, the football field. It would not be tolerated if your doctor or dry cleaner lectured you on their political beliefs every time you walked through their door or if your child’s teacher knelt or stepped out of the classroom during the Pledge of Allegiance. President Trump is right,” Malliotakis said. 

While players have the right to free speech, fans have the right to boycott games and refuse to purchase team jerseys and other NFL memorabilia, according to Malliotakis. 

But de Blasio accused Trump of race baiting. 

“Race has something to do with almost everything Donald Trump says,” the New York Observer quoted de Blasio as saying this week. “When are we going to get this through our heads? Let’s be clear: I have said he’s a racist before and I’ll say it again. Look, there’s this kind of sick term we use when people use racial-coded language. He doesn’t bother with the coding a lot of the times, he just goes right to it and that’s true.”

The Observer article noted that de Blasio has said in the past that the reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and saluting the flag during the anthem serve as an important affirmation of the country’s democracy and that the democracy is one “that is still evolving, that needs to get better, that needs to be truer to who we are and what we are supposed to be.”

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