The USWNT had their ticker tape parade in NYC, celebrating the greatest soccer team this country has ever produced. Unfortunately, it’s Megan Rapinoe’s recent actions and comments that have been dominating the headlines just as much as their play on the field.
Rapinoe has been protesting the national anthem for quite some time. She used to take a knee like Colin Kaepernick but after the US Soccer Federation made their displeasure with that action known, she now protests by standing but not singing or putting her hand over her heart. She’s very outspoken and passionate about social justice issues, including LGBTQ rights. She’s also been a vocal critic of the president.
She recently told Anderson Cooper the following about a potential trip to the White House: “I don’t think anyone on the team has any interest in lending the platform that we’ve worked hard to build and the things that we fight for and the way that we live our life. I don’t think we want that to be co-opted or corrupted by this administration.”
She did say that the team would like to go to Washington and they’ll accept invitations by Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and a bipartisan delegation of members of Congress, so they’re not completely excluding Republicans, just the Trump administration.
After the ticker tape parade, Rapinoe had this to say in front of City Hall in NYC: “This is my charge to everyone. We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We’ve got to listen more and talk less. We’ve got to know that this is everybody’s responsibility. Every single person here. Every single person who is not here. Every single person who doesn’t want to be here. Every single person who agrees and doesn’t agree, it’s out responsibility to make this world a better place…There has been so much contention these last couple of years. I’ve been a victim of that. I’ve been a perpetrator of that. Our fight with the federation, sorry for some of the things I say. Not all of the things. But it’s time to come together."
The speech seemed at odds with the decision not to go to the White House, especially if your stated goal is to make this country better by loving more and hating less, by coming together and collaborating and by including everybody in that process.
If that’s what you truly want to accomplish, then instead of refusing to go to the White House, shouldn’t you be working to arrange a meeting with the president to discuss your issues with him and his administration, along with listening to his thoughts on the issues?
I’m not one to get all bent out of shape when athletes or celebrities offer up their political opinions. They have every right to do so, just like you and I. Their opinions don’t count any less because of their fame or status. I also don’t lose sleep over people choosing to go or not to go to the White House, something that isn’t new. There are a number of athletes who wanted nothing to do with invites from Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama. If they don’t want to go, they don’t have to go. It’s a free country.That’s what makes America great.
On that point, I’ve defended Rapinoe’s right to protest during the anthem after a Fox News commentator said she didn’t have that right. She absolutely does. I completely disagree with her protesting during the anthem, but I'll certainly stand up for her right to do so. True patriotism and love of country isn’t taking the easy, popular position. It’s defending rights and the Constitution when it’s difficult.
But there’s one thing we never seem to see from the Rapinoe’s and Kaepernick’s of the world. These are people who likely could have never achieved the success they’ve had in almost any other country. From professional success to financial success to the platform they’ve been given as a result, they have achieved the American dream. It’d be nice if they gave this country some credit in addition to their constant criticisms.
That’s not to say they haven’t worked hard, but let’s be real: a biracial kid from Milwaukee ends up leading an NFL team to the Super Bowl as their quarterback, making millions in the process, and a gay female soccer player from Redding, CA goes on to be a star on the greatest soccer team this country has ever produced. That’s not happening in most countries.
Again, America isn’t perfect, but we never claimed to be. It literally says in the preamble to the Constitution: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The founders understood the union wasn’t perfect and changes would be needed along the way. They even allowed us the ability to amend the Constitution to fix our most consequential problems, like the issue of slavery or a woman’s right to vote.
Frederick Douglass, in a speech back in 1852, said the following about the foundation of this country: “I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost."
That declaration led to the formation of a system of government that provided a level of fairness and freedom never seen before. For some, that freedom and fairness didn’t happen right away and for many it’s still a battle being fought to this very day, a battle Rapinoe and Kaepernick are actively engaged in. Again, it’s all part of an ongoing effort to form that more perfect Union.
So yes, this country has had our issues and we still have quite a few to deal with, but more credit for the overwhelming amount of good we’ve done and continue to do and the opportunities provided here would be nice. And, I believe, fair.