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The Two Americas

Watch certain members of the US National Women’s Soccer Team turn their back on an elderly World War II veteran as he plays the National Anthem prior to their send-off match for the Olympics:

The US women’s team is the overwhelming favorite to win the gold in Tokyo, but after this stunt, I’m rooting for anybody who plays against the US, because I don’t want to see those two ungrateful creeps shame this country by doing that stunt on the platform in Tokyo.

Now, this:

UPDATE: Several of you say I’m reading this wrong, and that there was no protest. For example:

Rod, I’m afraid you’ve been duped by a clickbait story designed to gin up outrage. First off, you have your facts quite literally backwards. As it happens, the players you highlight in the photo are facing TOWARD the veteran playing the anthem. If you watch the whole video of the anthem, the musician is standing in front and to the left of the line of players (the early part of the video in the embedded post doesn’t make this super apparent, to be fair, but the layout is quite clearly visible if you fast forward to the 1:39 time mark). The players who are accused of “turning their back” are actually the ones standing to the left of the players you’ve singled out–all of whom are vehemently and correctly denying this story on Twitter, pointing out that they turned solely face the large, highest flag to their right. Due a design quirk of Rentschler Field in Connecticut and/or poor planning on positioning the anthem musician, it was physically impossible to simultaneously face the musician AND the most prominent flag at the same time given the way that anthems are played at soccer matches.

Why should you believe this denial? Well, beyond the video evidence that corroborates their account, and the fact that players who regularly protest during the anthem have never been shy about doing so, there’s this: The players in the video who supposedly “turned their backs” were–to a woman–players who have consistently stood for the anthem and been vocal about their reasons for doing so (Carli Lloyd, Abby Dahlkemper, Tobin Heath, Lindsay Horan and others). Meanwhile, the players you single out in the photo, Crystal Dunn and Christen Press (along with a few others) have often knelt or otherwise protested during the anthem, but here are facing the musician. For the version of events that you’ve amplified here to be true, you’d have to believe that the entire team decided to do an anthem switcheroo, with every player who has made a point of standing for the anthem turning their back on a WWII vet, and every player who has made a point of kneeling for literally years suddenly overcome with patriotism and respect. Do you really find that plausible?

If you want to be mad at players for protesting, fine–but no one in this video did anything remotely close to turning their backs on a WWII veteran except to face the flag (which, I imagine, is what Pete DuPre would want them to do!). In fact, the players who didn’t face the flag notably chose to forego their common practice of kneeling for the anthem and remained standing out of respect. Again, If you want to criticize Press, Dunn and others for, ironically, NOT facing the flag, fine. But the smear that they disrespected a nonagenarian veteran has already garnered some of these players a lot of online flames, and realistically more than a handful of death threats with an outrageous allegation is that equally outrageously false. It’s disappointing that you’ve chosen to signal boost this without watching the whole video. Given your enormous platform, please consider amending this post.

The US Soccer Federation has said that there was no protest at this event, that players were simply facing in different directions haphazardly. That being the case, I apologize for drawing the wrong conclusion. We are accustomed to the women’s soccer team protesting at public events (e.g., they did so last year), and the disgraceful recent Gwen Berry protest have put a lot of us on edge. Still, I was wrong, and I apologize. I would have done better to put Gwen Berry there; her protest was unambiguous:

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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