Pete Buttigieg recently stuck up for NFL players who protested during the playing of the National anthem. During an interview with TMZ, Buttigieg said that while he was in the military, he was defending everyone’s right to protest peacefully.
Buttigieg, who is a Navy veteran, was asked how he felt about Donald Trump’s condemnation of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began a series of protests by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. Kaepernick took a knee to bring much-needed attention to police brutality and racial inequality.
“The flag that was on my shoulder when I served represented, among other things, the right to free speech,” Buttigieg said.
“You don’t have to like it but one of the reasons we served was to defend that right, the right to peaceful protest and the idea that we can protest what is wrong with our country,” he added.
Buttigieg told TMZ that Kaepernick and other protesters were “exercising a right that I had put my life on the line to defend.”
“I didn’t think of the flag as something that itself as an image was sacred. I thought of it as something that was sacred because of what it represented,” he said. “One of the very things it represented is the freedom of speech, and that’s one of the reasons I served.”
Back in September of 2017, Buttigieg tweeted, “I was trained to stand & salute. But freedom–including to protest injustice–is the whole point of the anthem, the flag, and the country.”
During his TMZ interview, Buttigieg added that “maybe he would feel a little more strongly about those freedoms.”
Trump was eligible for the draft after he graduated from college in 1968. During that time the U.S. was heavily engaged in the Vietnam War. Trump received a medical deferment for bone spurs. However, that deferment may have been done as a favor to Trump’s father by a doctor, who was a close personal friend.
Trump would later brag that he went through his “own personal Vietnam” because he avoided getting an STD during that time period,
Buttigieg served six years as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserves and did a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. He was part of a unit assigned to identify and disrupt terrorist finance networks. While it was partly a desk job at Bagram Air Base, he also worked as an armed driver for more than 100 trips his commander took into Kabul.
“Nobody had a problem with him,” one reservist told CNN. “We knew he was a Democrat and a mayor with ambitions. The only negative thing I can say is that we lost him. The unit would have been stronger if he had stayed.”
For Buttigieg, time in Afghanistan is also responsible for another important part of his biography. About a year after returning home, he announced that he was gay.
“It was the reflecting that I did while I was overseas,” Buttigieg said. “I think it did kind of push me over the edge when I could’ve found more excuses to just take my time on coming out.”