On Fox News’ Special Report, conservative columnist for the Washington Post, Marc Thiessen, blasted US soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe for her national anthem protest at the Women’s World Cup in France: “If you’re a member of the US National team, you do not have the right to protest the US national anthem while wearing that uniform.”
Rapinoe has captured the world’s attention of late for actions both on and off the soccer pitch. She just won the Golden Boot, awarded to the best player in the Women’s World Cup tournament, as the charismatic leader of the victorious US women’s national team. But she has also been very outspoken, bluntly refusing any prospective trip to see President Donald Trump in the White House and protesting during the national anthem.
Her recent act of protest led Thiessen to offer his own reinterpretation of the First Amendment.
“That’s what is so frustrating about Megan Rapinoe. I’m a huge supporter of women’s sports, my girls are athletes. She’s an amazing athlete, it was an amazing platform,” Thiessen said. “What a way to waste it with an anthem protest. If you’re a member of the US national team, you do not have the right to protest the US national anthem while wearing that uniform.”
“Anthem protests are incredibly divisive,” Thiessen went on to say. “The whole protest she was having had nothing to do with gender equity. You’re turning away people who should be supportive of you and excited about your game and instead they’re hostile to you because you won’t respect the national anthem.”
Rapinoe’s controversial act is not unprecedented, however. One of the most iconic images of the civil rights movement involves Team USA sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith raising black-gloved fists during the playing of the US national anthem at the 1968 Summer Olympics. While the pair of African-American athletes were heavily criticized for the move at the time, immediately stripped of their medals, and kicked off the US Olympic team, their act has since been celebrated as a courageous effort to raise awareness about racial inequity in the country and around the world.