US President Donald Trump faced a barrage of criticism after he said that NFL players should be fired after disrespecting the national anthem. Basketball star LeBron James’s tweeted calling Trump a “bum”, and many players “took a knee” during the rendition of the national anthem before games.

Not surprisingly, though, the most nuanced commentary came from former US President Barack Obama. In a video aired on CNN, Obama was asked by an officer of the US Army how he felt about NFL players refusing to stand during the national anthem.

“A part of what makes this country special is that we respect people’s rights to have a different opinion, and make different decisions about how they want to express their concerns,” Obama said.

He reminded everyone that the “test of our fidelity to our Constitution, to freedom of speech, to our Bill of Rights, is not when it’s easy but when it’s hard.” He reminded people that freedom in a democracy can sometimes mean that people disagree, but that is the point of a democracy.

Obama also acknowledged that any act of political dissent is “under the blanket of protection of our men and women in uniform and the appreciation of their sacrifice is never lost.”