This is dumb, but I can understand why suspicion comes easy after Gwen Berry’s display on the medal stand at last week’s Olympic trials and the general post-Kaepernick drift of political activism by American athletes.
Last night the U.S. women’s team played Mexico in a final warm-up before the Olympics. Pete DuPré, 98 years young and a veteran of World War II, was invited to play the national anthem on his harmonica. The microphone was set up in front of where the players stood; the flags of the two countries were off to the right. As DuPré began to play, some players turned to their right to face the flag (a few held their hands over their hearts) while others stood facing him.
Here’s the clip. The American women are in the multicolored kits.
— ESPN (@espn) July 5, 2021
Ever eager for the next viral outrage, some viewers erupted on social media by claiming that the players had disrespected DuPré by deliberately turning their backs to him. A 98-year-old World War II veteran, honoring his country, shunned by woke athletes of the lost younger generation.
It was BS, but BS travels quickly in the age of Twitter so the national team scrambled to correct the record:
To be clear, no one turned their back on WWII Veteran Pete DuPré during tonight's anthem. Some USWNT players were simply looking at the flag on a pole in one end of the stadium. The players all love Pete, thanked him individually after the game and signed a ball for him.
— U.S. Soccer Comms (@ussoccer_comms) July 6, 2021
So much for that controversy. But wait — prime outrage material involving the flag and American athletes doesn’t die so easily. Some argued that it wasn’t the players who faced the flag, with their backs to DuPré, who were being disrespectful. It was the players who didn’t face the flag, who kept facing DuPré, who were guilty of disrespecting Old Glory.
Every woman on the Mexican Soccer Team faced the flag & sang the Mexican National anthem.
Several woman on the U.S. Soccer team turned away from the US flag – while a 92 year old Veteran played the anthem on a harmonica.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) July 5, 2021
Believe it or not, at least one site went hunting for maximum rage-clicks by arguing … both positions:
Right-wing site The Post Millennial ran an article saying US players were "DISGRACEFUL" for turning to the right during the anthem…
…then, when that nonsense was debunked, they changed the article to say *the other* players were "DISGRACEFUL" for *not* turning to the right. pic.twitter.com/WejsIVb00c
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) July 6, 2021
This is essentially the “is the dress black and blue or white and gold?” debate for outrage-mongers.
I’ll leave you with Clay Travis making the point this morning on Fox that it wasn’t terribly hard to believe that some athletes might be snubbing … something. Either the veteran or the flag. Maybe both? Almost certainly neither.
Right-wing media now justifying their false claims against the US women's soccer team because "a huge percentage of American sports fans totally think it’s believable" and it's "unfortunately a sign of where we are" that "so many of us just presume that level of disrespect." pic.twitter.com/Q0s0RLkTj6
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) July 6, 2021