Film director Spike Lee was conspicuously uncomfortable when confronted by Gold Star parents over his support of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
The parents of Staff Sergeant Louis Bonacasa, who was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2015, said at a CNN town hall Wednesday that the sight of those protesting by taking a knee is like a “slap in the face.”
“Last Sunday our community had a celebration for Gold Star parents,” Vincent Bonacasa told Lee, “It was very humbling ceremony. But it brought us back to the day we lost our son. It was a very empty feeling.”
With his wife Diana by his side holding a portrait of their son, Bonacasa went on to tell how the sorrow of the day was then made worse.
“We came home, turned on the TV,” he continued, “and there was the NFL players on their knees. That was a slap in the face to us.”
One of six Americans killed when they were attacked by a suicide bomber outside Bagram Air Base, the 31 year-old Bonacasa was on his fourth tour in the Middle East and left behind a wife a young daughter.
“How do you support these multi-millionaires on their knees, and don’t support what the fallen heroes died for?” the senior Bonacasa asked Lee, who was one of the panelists at the CNN town hall.
“Sir, I’m very sorry for your loss, but the narrative that you spoke about is not true,” Lee replied.
“All these players have said, many many times,” Lee said. “that they respect the armed forces. They respect the flag. And they respect America. And this narrative that when they take a knee, it’s insulting your son who is no longer here, is not true. They’ve said that again, and again, and again.”
Host Anderson Cooper noted that many people actually find the protests during the national anthem to be disrespectful, prompting Lee to get defensive, pointing to those offended in 1968 when two black athletes raised their firsts at the Olympics.
Bonacasa politely interrupted with a blunt follow up question.
“Excuse me I have one other question,” he said. “When North Korea aims a missile at us, are these football players gonna be on their knees, or are they gonna support our veterans?”
Lee, of course, deflected the question.
“Sir, I’m worried just as much (about) Donald Trump as that crazy guy in North Korea. And he has a nuclear code. I’m worried about that,” he said.
“We’re worried about it too,” Bonacasa said.
“Well, we’re worrying together then,” Lee responded without addressing the original question.
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