Six members of the Razorback women's basketball team kneeled during the playing of the National Anthem before an exhibition game in Fayetteville Thursday night and the angry response includes threats of university funding cuts by Republican legislators.
Jordan Danberry, a sophomore from Conway, was quoted:
Recently, you all know that there's been a lot of killings from police officers of African-Americans and other minorities. Me and my teammates took a knee today during the national anthem to speak for those who are oppressed. As Razorback student-athletes, we have a platform to do that.
Another player, Keiryn Swenson, who stood erect with hand over her heart, said she honored a late cousin who served in the military. But she also said she supported her teammates and the movement inspired by a pro football quarterback.
The women's coach, Jimmy Dykes, and UA Athletic Director Jeff Long stood tall.
We have had tremendous dialogue as a staff with them over the last couple of weeks and even before that individually. I met with them as a group this week on a couple of occasions. They had very, very strong, well-informed, educated opinions based on their real-life experiences, their real-life emotions. I am very, very proud of them.
They know I have their back 100 percent. Because we do live in a country that is the land of the free and the home of the brave. I know we spent a lot of time visiting with them, and they understood everything that is going into this evening."
Long issued a statement:
In this country, we value everyone's right to voice their opinions and views. University campuses are places of learning and thus places where differences of opinion and varying perspectives are recognized. We respect the rights of our student-athletes and all individuals to express themselves on important issues in our nation.
Sen. Jim Hendren, a fighter pilot who's waged a long and unhappy social media campaign against the Kaepernick-inspired protests in other venues, commented on Twitter:
As I've remarked to Hendren before, I don't for a minute disagree with him or anyone who doesn't like the protests. But every national ritual— anthem, pledge, flag waving— is not solely about the military, it's about the totality of the American ideal. This includes brave people of conscience who express dissent against a sometimes tyrannical majority (a principle that got us started in the first place). I think, by the way, that Hendren understands that better than some legislators, he's just deeply offended by flag protests. Gov. Asa Hutchinson quickly retweeted Hendren's message, naturally.
Republican Rep. Laurie Rushing said on Twitter: "I just might take a knee on UA funding." Sen. Jason Rapert rebroadcast her message and he added: "Perhaps we should reconsider the UofA Budget since some in leadership don't get it."
Sen. Linda Collins-Smith wrote: "Disrespectful. Ungrateful. Where is the coach, where is crowd, donors and city? Enough! Speak up people. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain":
Is there anything more un-American than saying retribution should be taken against a public university for failing to stifle unpopular speech by its students? Does the 1st Amendment allow a public institution to prescribe acceptable speech? The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken eloquently on this subject, from protecting those who refused to take an oath during World War II to Antonin Scalia on the perils of criminalizing flag burning. Deplore it. Criticize it. But punish it? That's NOT what Jim Hendren and others on the battlefield are fighting for.
Scott Faldon, the former Fort Smith sportswriter, commented trenchantly on Twitter that many of the fans now planning to "boycott" women's basketball probably couldn't name a single player. He also wondered how many of the critics would have supported six players who took the court wearing Make America Great Again caps.
And if I may trot out again memorable court opinions and a Dale Bumpers speech in support of 1st Amendment rights in the face of patriotic fervor. These include a case in Washington County, Ark., overturning discipline of students who refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance. And, finally, Justice Robert Jackson's immortal words:
“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”
Listen in YouTube below to the players, including a kneeler whose parents are police officers and who has two uncles in the military. "We are not trying to dishonor anybody in the military," she said. She said this was a way to make people take notice of their feelings.
The Bro./Sen. Rapert has his panties in a wad over the fact that Little Rock's airport is named for Bill and Hillary Clinton, according to his morning Tweet. I guess he should head on over to the Little Rock Airport Commission and warn them the Ledge is about to take it over. /more/
On Donald Trump's itchy Twitter finger: Of course his public statements are newsworthy. Trump's willingness to use the power of the bully pulpit in irresponsible ways is itself a story that bodes ominously for the nation he's been elected to serve. /more/
State Rep. David Hillman, an Almyra farmer recently elected as a Democrat to a third term, announced today that he was switching to the Republican Party, giving the GOP 75 of the 100 House seats. /more/
Arkansas Business reports that state Sen. Jason Rapert, who recently got out of the securities business and announced a move into preaching, has been appointed CEO of a company that sells a device meant to lock doors, particularly in schools, in case of an active shooter. Safety officials have criticized the device, but legislative pressure has cleared its use over objections in Arkansas and other states. /more/
Chris Burks, counsel for the Democratic Party and lawyer for plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the eligibility of Margaret Darterto be Faulkner County clerk, says he won't pursue an appeal of a circuit judge's decision in the case. /more/
After a hearing yesterday, Special Judge David Laser held that it was legal for Jefferson County Election Commission Stu Soffer, a Republican, to also serve as a poll watcher so long as he was appointed by the Republican Party, rather than an individual candidate. /more/
This just in from state Education Department: Today, Commissioner Johnny Key reached an agreement with Dr. Dexter Suggs that resulted in Dr. Suggs’ immediate resignation as superintendent of the Little Rock School District.
State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.