by Diane Rufino, June 28, 2021
At Saturday’s U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials, June 26, athlete Gwen Berry, who calls herself an “activist,” was standing on the podium after receiving her bronze medal in the hammer throw when she turned to face the stands and not the American flag, as the US National Anthem was playing.
Gold and silver medalists DeAnna Price and Brooke Andersen faced the flag with their right hands over the heart while Berry faced away. She eventually picked up a black T-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” printed on the front and draped it over her head. As she herself explains: “”My purpose and my mission is bigger than sports. I’m here to represent those … who died due to systemic racism. That’s the important part. That’s why I’m going. That’s why I’m here today.”
I didn’t realize that the Olympic forum was a place for individual athletes to express their personal views and political protests. What I DO KNOW is that the athletes on any Olympic team are representing the United States and the values she represents, and every one of the athletes should be required to show her respect.
Do you know what the American flag and the National Anthem mean to me? They are symbols of the greatest country on earth and they remind me how very lucky I am to have been born here.
The flag, in particular, represents the ideal on which our country was founded; it symbolizes Freedom and Liberty. It reminds us of the reasons the many states came together over 200 years ago to form a union, and why the additional states then joined as well – most importantly because they believed in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution (the unadulterated version).
The flag, and the National Anthem as well, will always touch my heart knowing that over the years it has inspired young men and women who value liberty and who love this country deeply to enlist, to fight wars on her behalf, to bring stability to areas of civil unrest, to help spread her values overseas, and to even put his or her life on the line to do so. Often they end up giving their last full measure. I’ll always think of the horrors our young Americans went through in Word War I, in World War II, in Vietnam and Korea, and are going through now with the war on terror.
Others, so much courageous than I, have fought and died so that myself and every other American, including those who hate this country (like Gwen Berry does and in fact, most liberals and progressives) can speak freely, protest robustly, pray everyday to the God they love, keep and bear firearms in their homes, have the right to privacy and due process, and in general, to live life as a free citizen.
Gwen Berry is a piece of sh**, excuse my French. Not only did she turn her back to the flag, but she covered her face with a shirt reading “Activist Athlete.” The United States didn’t offer her a spot on its Olympic team to push her particular cause; it wanted a superior athlete for the great world competition. Not every platform is an occasion to focus on race or racism. She is an Olympic-grade athlete not because of her skin color but because she is extremely gifted athletically. If she is hates the country for its history, and if the flag and National Anthem offend her so, then why does she even want to represent our country in the first place? Any medal she may earn for the team will never be worth the disrespect she shows and the shame she brings upon us as a country. She certainly doesn’t represent any appreciable portion of the people. Why doesn’t she just settle to perform for some liberal university.
Did she, perhaps, take her cue from another activist athlete, Megan Rapinoe ?
If nothing else, I hope this incident will serve as a wake-up call. This conduct – this outright and most public of disrespectful acts against our country – should never again be tolerated. At home, we honor and support freedom of speech and expression. But on the national stage, when performing as a representative (athletic representative) of the United States, that freedom of speech and expression is suspended. It must be suspended. The United States, thru taxpayer funding, spends a lot of money on its Olympic athletes and in return, all she asks for is respect and loyalty. The Olympics is about solidarity, not division. We have enough of that here.
With that in mind, I believe there should be a requirement, or Pledge, for all those athletes who wish to represent the United States on any of its Olympic teams. The questions should include:
- Do you pledge to show respect to the United States, to the US flag, and the American National Anthem?
- Will you conduct yourself at all times, in the public eye, with respect and class?
- If you consider yourself an ‘activist,’ a member of any ‘woke’ group, or have any other personal crusade issues, will you agree to put them aside and abide by (1) and (2) above?
If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” then the response should be “Too Bad, So Sad, GO HOME!” – or better yet, go to another country!