Since the beginning of the season, Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball forward Marsha Howard has remained in the tunnel during the national anthem, as a way to protest gun violence.
Before Sunday’s game against the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Howard had to come up with a new plan, because the Badgers bench was not near a hallway or an exit. So she chose to remain seated on the bench instead. This, apparently, angered some Iowa constituents, who decided to lodge their complaints with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The prolific social media user took to his favorite platform, Twitter, to publicly encourage his constituents to “Exprress” their “outrage” to Wisconsin Head Coach Jonathan Tsipis and the University of Wisconsin.
According to Grassley, Iowans were wondering why Howard “wld not be patriotic enuf to stand for natl anthem song.” (Please forgive his spelling.)
Iowa constituents asked me why a starter for Wisconsin women Bb wld not be patriotic enuf to stand for natl anthem song today /ASK THE WISCONSIN COACH/ Exprress outrage to university
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) February 19, 2018
On Monday, KFox14 reported that Tsipis supported Howard’s decision. He she feels strongly about taking a stand against gun violence, particularly since she is from inner-city Chicago.
“I’m proud of Marsha to be able to express her opinion, and we’ll continue to support our players,” Tsipis said.
Amateur and professional athletes across the nation have protested injustices during the national anthem over the past year and a half, since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism. In 2016, two members of the Wisconsin men’s basketball team stepped back from their teammates during the national anthem as a way to protest racism at the university after two fans were spotted at a football game wearing a costume of a noose around the neck of President Obama.
Grassley has previously spoken out against NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem, saying, “I figure the only time that you get on your knees is to pray.”
Howard has not spoken publicly about her protest, but in the days following last week’s mass shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many across the country are joining her in protesting gun violence — including the survivors of the shooting, who are advocating for stricter gun laws.
Grassley, who has received $232,337 in contributions from the NRA, spoke at a forum this week and said he might consider supporting a ban on bump stocks and expanding the background checks required for purchasing a gun. However, he was quick to remind those at the forum that mass shootings are only responsible for a small portion of the gun violence in the United States.
“There’s so much killing in Chicago we don’t talk about, somehow we don’t talk about that,” Grassley said.
Of course, when people like Howard actually do speak out against gun violence in Chicago, it’s Grassley leading the call for them to shut up. Apparently it’s not patriotic enuf for him.