- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says the fate of American civil society may rest in the hands of sports stars and Hollywood entertainers.

Last weekend’s surge in national anthem protests, along with the “take a knee” movement, prompted an op-ed Wednesday by the Los Angeles Lakers great, who took to The Hollywood Reporter to blast President Trump’s “assault on American values” while defending on-the-job activism seen in the NFL, MLB and NBA.

“I have never been prouder to be a part of the athletic community than I was this weekend as players and owners in football, basketball and baseball displayed public unity in their resistance to the racist, anti-veteran and anti-American statements by President Donald Trump,” Mr. Abdul-Jabbar wrote.

None of Mr. Trump’s allegedly racist statements were provided for scrutiny, but the basketball great said “talk show hosts like Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, Samantha Bee” and others are needed to expose the president’s “wealthy white donors hoping to cash in on huge profits from his deregulations, ignorant white supremacists who herald a return to free-range racism and born followers who will support him despite all the evidence that they are the ones most hurt by his policies.”

“We can’t hide from these harsh realities by escaping in talk show antics or the diversion of sports when — to their credit — athletes and entertainers are reminding us of the seriousness of our national crisis,” he wrote. “Because they have so much to lose by expressing their politics, they have become trusted voices in delivering the news and may be our best hope in turning the country around.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Abdul-Jabbar have a contentious history going back to the former’s early days as a Republican presidential hopeful. In response to a September 2015 op-ed in The Washington Post in which the NBA great called Mr. Trump a “bully,” the the billionaire replied with a handwritten letter.

“Now I know why the press always treated you so badly — they couldn’t stand you,” Mr. Trump wrote on a signed copy of the op-ed.

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