Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Saturday that he does not agree with the decision of San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler to protest the national anthem in the wake of a school shooting in Texas that left 21 victims dead.
“I think he’s exactly right to be concerned…with what’s happening in our country,” La Russa said Saturday evening, ESPN reported. “He’s right there. Where I disagree is the flag and the anthem are not appropriate places to try to voice your objections.”
The day before, Kapler said he will skip out on the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the pregame ceremony “going forward.” He also clarified his decision in an op-ed saying he is “not okay with the state of this country.”
The White Sox manager said protesting the national anthem is an insult to the men and women who served and died in the U.S. military to defend it.
“Some of their courage comes from what the flag means to them and when they hear the anthem,” La Russa said before the White Sox ultimately fell to the Cubs 5 to 1. “You need to understand what the veterans think when they hear the anthem or see the flag. And the cost they paid and their families. And if you truly understand that, I think it’s impossible not to salute the flag and listen to the anthem.”
In an op-ed, Kapler said he was taught the national anthem and the American flag were to be revered but that he does not believe it is representative of America’s current condition.
“When I was the same age as the children in Uvalde, my father taught me to stand for the pledge of allegiance when I believed my country was representing its people well or to protest and stay seated when it wasn’t,” Kapler wrote. “I don’t believe it is representing us well right now.”
Kapler’s decision received mixed reactions as others supported the protest.
Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward called the protest “brave.”
“I think we’re all frustrated, especially in this country,” Woodward said, ESPN reported. “Nobody’s happy. It’s not about which side you’re on. It’s just we’ve got to get better as a society. … I’m not going to really make comment either way on whether I would or wouldn’t do what he did.”
The protest came after an 18-year-old suspected gunman fatally shot 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday with guns he purchased days after his birthday.