WASHINGTON, D.C. – Flanked by a handful of senior administration officials and Republican lawmakers, President Donald J. Trump on Monday signed The Respecting Our Flag and Military Act of 2017, an executive order requiring professional athletes in the United States to stand at attention and face the flag during the national anthem.
Effective immediately, the Act states that “by order of the President of the United States,” pro athletes are required to participate in patriotic pregame ceremonies and “shall henceforth maintain military-style posture and composure” while facing and saluting the American flag “for the entirety” of the national anthem. Further, players who fail to adhere to the law will be forced to undergo “patriotic sensitivity training” and could face up to one year in prison.
Speaking from the Oval Office on Monday, President Trump suggested that players who choose to “take a knee” during the national anthem are “uppity and ungrateful” for the opportunities afford to them as Americans. “This country has tolerated disgrace to our flag and those who fought for it for long enough,” President Trump declared moments before adding his signature to the executive order. “This disrespectful and, frankly, very anti-American behavior stops now.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking to reporters during a press briefing on Monday, said the Department of Justice will send “minders” to pro sporting events throughout the United States to ensure that athletes are adhering to the terms of The Respecting Our Flag and Military Act. “They will have the power to make arrests,” said Sessions before going on to say that the Department of Justice, rather than local and state law enforcement, will have the final say in all matters related to patriotism.
On Monday, the DOJ unveiled the formation of its first ever Patriotism Task Force. Comprised of “a fine group of God-fearing Americans” with backgrounds ranging from data collection to military intelligence, Mr. Sessions said the task force will serve as the President’s “eyes and ears” throughout the continental United States. “It is our prerogative to root out and eliminate those who conspire to oppose our flag and all that it stands for,” the attorney general said.