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#TakeTheKnee hashtag reveals sharp debate over NFL players’ kneeling

John Leyba/The Denver Post/ Getty Images
John Leyba/The Denver Post/ Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — President Trump’s lashing out at NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem and the resulting backlash is playing out in part on social media, including under a Twitter hashtag trending Sunday morning, #TakeAKnee, and also another variation, #TakeTheKnee.

The hashtag drew sharp responses from people both opposed and supportive of players protesting by kneeling during the pregame national anthem, a practice that drew attention beginning in the 2016 preseason when Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, quietly knelt. Kaepernick told the press that he was protesting the treatment of blacks in the United States.

One supporter of the protests said critics should “wake up” because the players are exercising their rights.

So it’s disrespectful for sports players to #TakeTheKnee in silent protest but ok for white supremacists to walk about with swastikas…

— Dave Rowe (@daverko6) September 24, 2017

..and have violent protests. Wake up people the players r well within their rights

— Dave Rowe (@daverko6) September 24, 2017

Katie Hopkins, a controversial British columnist and a former reality star, focused her criticism on Kaepernick.

Breaking news for Kaepernick. You don’t have to kneel for the cameras to make a difference. You can register and vote. #TakeTheKnee

— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) September 24, 2017

California Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat who has been critical of Trump, said the president has “no moral standing” to call for NFL players to be fired for kneeling in protest.

As someone who took deferments to avoid military service, @realDonaldTrump has no moral standing to tell anyone to stand or to #TakeTheKnee. https://t.co/HJkStvR8n8

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) September 24, 2017

Jack Posobiec, a right-wing activist who has promoted conspiracy theories such as “Pizzagate,” argued that 80 percent of Americans tuning into NFL football on Sunday would turn off the TV if players kneel during the anthem.

If #TakeTheKnee goes down today, 80% will turn off the TV. Sports fans hate politics, they just want to watch the game.

— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) September 24, 2017

Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative political pundit, called for fellow opposers to “boo” the teams and players who refuse to stand during the anthem.

It’s time to loudly boo teams & players who refuse to respect the national anthem–we too can exercise our right to protest #TakeAKnee

— Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza) September 24, 2017

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