Beto O'Rourke, the man challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for his Senate seat, was asked at a recent town hall for his thoughts on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
Before O’Rourke answered, he thanked all current and former military men and women for their service.
Then, he offered his short answer: “No, I don’t think it’s disrespectful."
For his longer answer, O’Rourke compared the kneeling players to the heroes of the civil rights movement.
‘I can think of nothing more American.’ — Beto O'Rourke — the man taking on Ted Cruz — brilliantly explains why NFL players kneeling during the anthem is not disrespectful pic.twitter.com/bEqOAYpxEL— NowThis (@nowthisnews) August 21, 2018
“The freedoms that we have were purchased not just by those in uniform - and they definitely were - but also by those who took their lives into their hands by riding those Greyhound buses, the Freedom Riders in the deep South in the 1960s who knew full well that they would be arrested, and they were, serving time in the Mississippi State Penitentiary," he said. "Rosa Parks getting from the back of the bus to the front of the bus."
Likewise, taking a knee at a football game, O'Rourke explained, is a way to peacefully point out that "black men, unarmed, black teenagers, unarmed, and black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement, without accountability and without justice.”
Non-violently, the football players hope to bring attention to the issue in the hopes of fixing it.
“I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up or take a knee for your rights anytime, anywhere, anyplace,” O'Rourke concluded.
Cruz said shame on him.
“When Beto O’Rourke says he can’t think of anything more American (than players taking a knee), well I got to tell you, I can," Cruz said at a campaign stop in Corpus Christi on Saturday.
The U.S. Senate election in Texas is Nov. 6, 2018. New polls suggest a "Beto surge."