Representative Sheila Jackson Lee has been at it again. This time she's been grabbing some camera time through the NFL kneeling controversy.
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee has been at it again. This time she's been grabbing some camera time through the NFL kneeling controversy.
Photo by Hope Baumen

Sheila Jackson Lee Kneels on House Floor to Support NFL Players, Buck Trump

Count on Representative Sheila Jackson Lee to take a controversial topic, mess with it a little, and turn it into a (fairly) empty gesture to score some easy points by shoehorning herself into a discussion she wasn't previously involved in.

This time around, it's over the NFL and the question of kneeling or standing during the national anthem.

On Tuesday the Democratic Houston congresswoman known for showing up anywhere there is a camera, grabbed all the attention her politician's heart could require for the moment when she took a knee on the floor of the House of Representatives to show solidarity with NFL football players who have been taking this stance to protest police brutality.

"There is no basis in the First Amendment that says that you cannot kneel for the national anthem or in front of the flag," Jackson said.

She followed up by citing the text of the First Amendment, dropping to her left knee as she spoke.

It was an impressive performance, even for Lee, a consummate performer. She never looked at the text on the lectern in front of her — which worked out particularly well since once she knelt it was difficult for her to see it.

Unshaken, Lee plowed on.

"I kneel in honor of the First Amendment. I kneel because the flag is a symbol for freedom. I kneel because I'm going to stand against racism. I kneel because I will stand with those young men, and I'll stand with our soldiers, and I'll stand with America, because I kneel."

However, it does seem worth noting that Lee seems to have sort of missed the point since it's not a question of where people are taking a knee but when they are doing it. The football players are currently kneeling either before, a la the Dallas Cowboys, or during the national anthem, and that's why it's seen as a big deal. Just kneeling to kneel isn't quite the same thing, even on the House floor, even if Lee is the one doing it.

On the other hand, this whole question of kneeling during the national anthem has come bubbling up because President Donald Trump went off during a rally in Alabama on Friday, railing against NBA player Stephen Curry and the "son of a bitch" NFL players who Trump maintains are disrespecting the "Flag (Or Country)" by taking a knee during the "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Now, Lee is a little late to this party — NFL player Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem last season and surely would still be doing so if he were still on an NFL roster — but at least she's showed up.

It didn't actually mean much, or really do anything about the issue at hand, but it was impressive how compelling Lee made the movement. Even the fact that she miscalculated and was too far from the microphone at the lectern to be easily heard once she dropped to her left knee managed to seem like a part of the grand (cream-puff of a) gesture she was making.

Sure, Lee may unable to help herself when it comes to using a little controversy to score cheap points with her constituents, but she does do a good job on the performance. She played this one to the hilt, and even though she risked nothing by it, she still seemed brave. It's an impressive trick.

Even better, she tweeted right at Trump when she posted a video of the act, just daring him to respond. If he does and they spar on Twitter, get some popcorn handy because that will be one hell of a show.

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