Donald Trump Jr. managed to insult Colin Kaepernick, people on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis — and, actually every American — with a single Facebook post. The president’s eldest son, 42, mocked Kaepernick, a favorite Trump family target, by reposting a photo of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback kneeling during the national anthem at an NFL game. The image, originally posted by Turning Point USA CCO Benny Johnson, says, “the most nonessential employee in American History.” Trump captioned the April 6 post “Hard to argue…” Trump and Johnson are referring to the classification of “essential” and “nonessential” jobs during the coronavirus quarantine. “Essential jobs” include grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, warehouse workers — everyone whose job is necessary to keep society running and ensure people have essentials like food.
“Nonessential” jobs are everything else. As the number of coronavirus cases in the United States continues to grow, people are continuing to socially isolate to flatten the curve; many are working from home. That’s not what Trump and Johnson mean, though. They’re targeting the fact that Kaepernick hasn’t played a down in the NFL since his contract with the 49ers ended in 2016, after he began his protests against racism and police brutality. Kaepernick started a small movement within the league as other players started kneeling during the national anthem, as well. And that drew heavy criticism from President Donald Trump.
The elder Trump said in a rambling August 2017 speech in Alabama that NFL team owners should fire players who kneel. “It’s ruining the game. That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he told a cheering crowd. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a b***h off the field right now. Out! He’s fired.”
The following year, the NFL announced that teams would be punished if players knelt during the national anthem. “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country,” he told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade. “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem.”