Conservative outlet NewsBusters described 10-time Grammy winner John Legend as a “Slate writer” and “Slate progressive” in a piece attacking him as a “protest apologist and historical revisionist.” NewsBusters' attack came after Legend wrote a guest column for Slate in which he called the act of protesting “patriotic” and wrote that “protest has played a critically important role in elevating the voices of the most vulnerable in our nation.”
Legend’s piece came amid historic protests by National Football League (NFL) players across the country, who knelt and locked arms during the national anthem before games over the weekend to raise awareness about racial inequality in America and as a show of solidarity against Trump’s bellicose rhetoric concerning NFL and NBA players.
Other right-wing media figures have similarly attacked NFL players and defended Trump in his feud with the football league over its support for players who decided not to stand for the national anthem. One Fox News guest falsely claimed Trump didn’t call NFL player protesters sons of bitches, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham called the protesting players “punks,” and a Fox News contributor said NFL players protesting social injustice “ought to be thanking God” they don’t have to worry about “being shot in the head for taking a knee.”
This isn't the first time Legend has been attacked by right-wing media for espousing political views. Fox News host Sean Hannity previously criticized the singer’s 2015 Oscar speech, complaining that Legend “decided to make all things political” and claiming he “doesn’t know anything about politics. From the September 24 NewsBusters article:
NFL protests have given the liberal media a newfound “appreciation” of patriotism and the Constitution. Media covering this movement suffer from selective amnesia about U.S. history, however. Slate's John Legend is a protest apologist and historical revisionist as well who strains credibility.
In his blog today, Legend argues “The NFL Protests are Patriotic.” He writes, “The president of the United States loves to drape himself in the symbols of patriotism, but fails to respect the ideals at the core of our Constitution and national identity. Trump may love the flag, but he doesn’t love anything it’s supposed to stand for.”
The Slate progressive asks if there would have been a Civil Rights Act without the Birmingham protests when Bull Connor unleashed dogs and firehoses on Black children.
Legend skips over the fact that Connor was a Democrat. Would the Act have passed without Republican support? No. Democrats Al Gore Sr. and Robert Byrd were among the 21 Democrats who voted against civil rights, but Legend gives credit for it anyway to President Kennedy and President Johnson.
(h/t Ryan Kearney)