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Land of the Free

Wow! What a week that was. Just when I give President Trump a little credit for becoming a little more politically savvy and working in a more bipartisanship way, bam! off he goes again with that cell phone and quick temper response.

This must stop. Whether it’s Steph Curry visiting the White House, or the rhetoric back and forth with Kim Jong-un. Put the cell phone down, stop the derogatory comments. You, sir, are the most powerful man in the world, the President of the United States of America, operate from this position of power. Stop getting into run and gun battles created by your tongue and Twitter. You are not going to accomplish anything positive with this approach. Not to mention there are big problems that need to be solved in a bipartisan manner and the focus gets lost on what’s most important to our Nation.

The whole Golden State Warriors visiting the White House that lead into the NFL National Anthem controversy could have been avoided. When Steph Curry chose not to visit the White House with his Warrior teammates a simple, “that is Steph Curry’s prerogative as a citizen of our great country,” would have sufficed. But to banish the whole team is an overreaction to one NBA basketball player’s statements, come on. This began a firestorm that President Trump just continued to fuel as well as the media, of course.

Have the Warrior players and coaches to the White House, if Steph doesn’t come, take the high road. You could even go a step further in avoiding conflict. Invite Steph Curry and LeBron James to sit down for lunch, privately and discuss their concerns. Pass the ball back to them to be judged in the court of public opinion. Instead, you empowered them with your responses. Diffuse the situation publicly. This would have been the approach President Clinton or President Reagan would have used. And incidentally, both loved sports and those team visits to the White House. By the way, I think it’s a great gesture, but why are all championship teams invited to the White House anyway and what does this cost the American taxpayer?

The handling of the NBA Champion team visit created the controversy that seemed to fuel the most talked about topic of the past week. NFL teams and the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. I never thought this event of showing pride, appreciation and the love of America would become such a controversial event.

I have attended and watched more sporting events than most. I still get an overwhelming sense of pride and patriotism when standing and staring at the Stars and Stripes during this pregame ritual. I also use the time to pray, thanking God for our great Nation and all that have provided the freedom to enjoy a game. We must remember whether it’s NFL or junior football, it is just a game. I also pray for the safety of the competitors in Jesus’ name, Amen.

That is what I choose to do as a citizen of our great land. We all must remember the freedom that allows me this choice, the absolute freedom of the First Amendment that allows me to pen this column also applies to those who choose to do something different.

Can you imagine me writing about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un the way I critique American presidents if I was a citizen of North Korea? You all know this wouldn’t end well or even make it to press.

We are so very blessed by the freedom of our Country, by the ability to choose to do whatever we would like, obviously protected by the Constitution and, of course, as long as it’s lawful.

It is the same freedom that allows anyone to express their beliefs in a peaceful way, including those who choose to kneel during the National Anthem like the NFL players. It is up to you whether you support or disagree with this decision. And believe me, your voice will be heard by the big money business of the NFL.

Most importantly, when it comes to our First Amendment rights, you’re walking on a slippery slope when anyone’s rights are infringed upon. Who and what freedom is next?

As the individuals that make up our great land, we cannot allow any issue to divide and cause such malice towards others. We must simply agree to disagree. We must educate our young people about what our flag stands for, represents and how to show respect as well as our First Amendment Rights. I don’t believe it is the job of professional athletes to teach our youth something so important. It should be done by parents, teachers, coaches and those closest to them.

That should be the good that comes out of any difference in beliefs, the opportunity for discussion, the ability to teach that it’s OK to have different opinions. This is called democracy at work.

I applaud the way the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears came together, along with all in attendance for the game at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay’s quarterback, went public with the idea and asked the fans to join them. Both teams stood on their sidelines arms locked, many players with their right hand across their heart. Many fans joined in, all stood, many saluting or hand across their heart. Chants of, “USA, USA,” rang down from the crowd.

This was done as a sign of unification by Americans from all walks of life. This was a simple solution, but to me a perfect one. It provided a great example of how to bring awareness to an issue but also show respect to all fellow Americans and our Nation.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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