Dan Crenshaw: Gwen Berry should be kicked off the U.S. Olympic team

The Twitterati are snarking at Crenshaw today for wanting to “cancel” Berry for her display on the podium at Saturday’s Olympic trials. But kicking someone off a national team because they don’t respect the nation they’re representing isn’t “cancellation” the same way that targeting some rando at their job for an Ungood opinion they hold is. National pride is a basic job requirement in this case, Crenshaw’s saying. We wouldn’t ask the State Department to employ a diplomat known for telling audiences that America sucks even if that diplomat were otherwise unusually skilled in their niche.

The flip side of that, though, is that Berry is a world-class athlete and the Olympics isn’t purely diplomatic. It’s meritocratic too. Most medals given out are for individual performance, not national/team achievement. Berry’s worked hard to succeed and she’s stayed within the rules. The one time she didn’t, the U.S. Olympic Committee ended up changing those rules and apologizing to her. Certain demonstrations of political opinions, like raising a fist on the podium, are now explicitly allowed by the USOC. So why should she be sanctioned for taking advantage by being denied the opportunity of a lifetime?

All of which is a long way of saying that, whether or not you agree that she should be kicked off the team, she’s not going to be.

Berry is enjoying the attention Saturday’s display during the national anthem has brought her, naturally. And just as naturally she’s pretending that she doesn’t understand it:

She also noted that she’s never said she hates the United States, although that may be a matter of parsing the definition of “hate.” Would “contemptuous of a country she’ll never forgive for its history of racial persecution” work better?

I feel like we’re about to enter a strange news cycle in which righties who despise Colin Kaepernick for having kneeled during the national anthem before NFL games start holding him up as a relative model of respectful protest vis-a-vis Berry. Kneeling is at least a gesture of humility and reverence. Berry turning her back on the flag radiated scorn compared to that.

At the risk of repeating myself from yesterday’s post, there seems to be a mutually agreeable solution to the problem of an athlete having to represent a country she doesn’t respect. Let her compete at the Games as an “independent athlete” the same way athletes from countries in turmoil or countries that have violated Olympic rules (e.g., Russia) routinely do. I assume Berry would be happy not to have to wear “USA” on her chest or hear “The Star-Spangled Banner” play if she takes gold. And I assume that a lot of proud Americans would prefer not to have someone so contemptuous of the country they love representing it in Tokyo. So don’t require her to. That’s the only way I can think of to decouple the meritocratic part of Olympic competition from the diplomatic part. Let Berry compete and strive for individual glory as one of the best in the world at what she does but give her the choice of doing it in her capacity as an individual. The differences between her and much of the U.S. population appear irreconcilable. Grant her a divorce in Tokyo if she wants one. Both sides will be happier.