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Megan Rapinoe shoots well wide of goal

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Megan Rapinoe’s profanity-accented and premature refusal to travel to the White House if the USWNT won the Women’s World Cup has been extensively reported. Since the story first broke, arguments have raged both in the media and on social media about whether her statements, and the echoed sentiments of teammates Alex Morgan and Ali Krieger, reflect positively or poorly on her patriotism and professionalism. To me, this conversation is irrelevant. I don’t doubt for a moment her patriotism or her professionalism as a footballer, but I seriously question her maturity, and for two reasons far more important than the subjective contours of patriotism.

First, I lament the rapidly fading respect in this country for the institution of the presidency. There is a difference between the person who holds the office of the President of the United States and the office itself, and that difference is important. One of the most beautiful things about being American is the legally protected right to clearly and publicly articulate your differences of opinion with your elected leaders. Nowhere in the world is the freedom of speech more fiercely guarded than here, and that freedom is one of many that make the United States an exceptionally awesome country. But implicit in that right is an obligation to respect the same right for others, particularly those with whom you disagree most passionately.

Failure in that obligation leads to the omnipotence of public opinion. Students of history or literature will recognize that concept as the “tyranny of the majority” presciently cautioned against by Alexis de Tocqueville almost two centuries ago. The obligation is no less important in respect of holders of public office. Fans of President Obama cautioned during his administration that many of those who disagreed with him seemed to be effectively rooting for the failure of his presidency. They pointed out that the failure of a presidency – the institution, not the person – served no American’s interest, regardless of political persuasion. While these commentators may have fallen short in pureness of motivation, they surely succeeded in accuracy of thought. A democracy in which people cannot respect others while disagreeing with them is a short-lived democracy. Indeed, it will Inevitably fail as a democracy and become instead an authoritarian regime dependent on supremacy of power rather than supremacy of ideas.

Second, it is extremely disheartening to me how low the bar has become to be labeled an “activist”. Whether it is Colin Kaepernick having his Holiday Inn Express moment with semiotics, Rapinoe dropping her F-bomb, or either of them taking a knee during the national anthem, real activists would surely agree that these adolescent displays of impertinence hardly constitute activism. When I think of activists, I think of Harriet Tubman, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Gloria Steinem, and others. For many of these people, their sacrifice in the name of their cause was both personal and ultimate. For all of them, activism required time, energy, passion, and patience. Even Malala Yousafzai must find it bizarre that being trolled on Twitter by the President can be roughly equated with being shot by the Taliban. And surely no one will disagree that our country could be in a very different place today if the Rev. King had merely taken a knee instead of daring to have a dream.

Rapinoe may well be passionate in her views, but she is no activist. I strongly disagree with her approach to activism, and I likely disagree with her on any number of policy points. But I would respect a true activist, regardless. Were she mature enough to have patience, she would recognize the opportunity she’s missing.

Given that she’s such a talented footballer, perhaps a soccer analogy will help. Making your mark in a soccer game frequently involves position, patience, and poise. The parallels to her current situation are strong. She and her teammates dispatched the Dutch, putting her in position – an audience with President Trump. At that point, a little bit of patience – putting up with someone for whom she strongly does not care – would allow her to demonstrate some poise – sharing clearly, articulately, and concisely her views on LGBTQ+ rights and what she believes Trump should do better in that regard. In the worst case, she is where she began, with a President whose views are starkly at odds with her own. Even brilliant shots are occasionally blocked by goalkeepers. But how sad for everyone involved with her cause if she never bothers trying. We all know the conversion rate for shots not taken. No proper activist would miss such an opportunity. If Rapinoe were even a little bit mature, she wouldn’t miss either, and would earn a lot of respect from people who disagree with her, as well. Instead, her most recent comments suggest she is only willing to engage with Congressional Democrats who already agree with her. How passive.

Irina Comer

29 comments

John ONeill July 24, 2019 at 12:51 pm

I believe in Equal Rights/Equal opportunities. I have daughters and a son. I can unequivocally state if I heard either my daughters or son curse in public the way Rapinoe does, I would be equally embarrassed as a parent.

Rusty Guardrail July 24, 2019 at 1:01 pm

Trump is a proven thief, self-proclaimed sexual molester, and a multiple-accused rapist possessing no qualifications for any public office. He has only defiled the office of the President, and deserves no respect from anyone. The 2016 election was a fluke, decided by 77,000 voters across 4 states.

Rusty Guardrail July 24, 2019 at 1:13 pm

There isn’t a curse word foul enough to apply to a President who has publicly spoken more than 10,000 documented lies spoken publicly since being elected.

Tysen Canevari July 24, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Hey Rusty, Arent all the preisdents liars? Do you remember “I did not have sex with that woman!” I love how athletes thinks they are spokespeople for the majority. Kaepernick is a joke. Anyone that kneels for the national anthem is downright disrespectful. Rapinoe needs the attention with her purple hair. Will she hold up the John 3:16 signs in the background at the world series like the crazy man of the 70’s? Would you ever expect Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan, or Cal Ripken to do such things? Give it a rest

Marie July 24, 2019 at 2:51 pm

The irony of this entire article is that these “real” activist the writer named specifically were many time hated, told they were hurting their cause, told they were doing the “wrong thing” or that they were too extreme. Kind of like what this writer is saying about Megan Rapinoe.

It’s easy to look back at the good that was accomplished by civil disobedience and all the other “uncomfortable” things done by people who had had enough. Hindsight is always 20/20. But the truth is nothing gets accomplished by continuing the status quo. So Ms Rapinoe dropped an F-bomb. You don’t have to like it but pretending it nullifies her argument is childish and immature. And she disrespects the President because he hasn’t done a single thing to deserve respect. I have seen little if any respect FROM him for the office he holds or the people (ALL the people) he represents, so in your words the implicit obligation of reciprocal respect seems to have broken at the highest office (and to be clear, he broke it before he became president when he was so disrespectful to Obama!). I, for one, am happy she chooses what is right for herself and doesn’t give Trump the time of day.

So continue with your criticisms and low option of those people you deem “not activist enough”. History has shown us people like you will exist whether it’s right or wrong and hands of justice will move regardless.

Steve Mann July 24, 2019 at 5:27 pm

@Rusty, Bill Clinton has been out of office since early 2000. This is a heck of time to be calling him out on these issues.

Rusty Guardrail July 24, 2019 at 7:32 pm

Tysen, Rapinoe already had everyone’s attention. She used her position to speak her mind. Same with Colin. Symbolic gestures paying fealty to totems do not necessarily indicate respect any more than going to church and singing hymns necessarily indicates a sense of morality. Even by typical political standards, Trump’s conduct is indefensible.
Steve, Trump is worse than 100 Bill Clintons.

Ron Morris July 24, 2019 at 7:44 pm

Tysen Canevari
Kaepernick has every right to kneels for the national anthem. This is far from disrespectful. What is disrespectful is the Republican Trump saying [“Grab them by the “] when referring to women.

Kathleen July 24, 2019 at 8:13 pm

Spot on Marie and Rusty. And, In 1965, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. took a knee during a march in Selma, Ala.

Norwalk native July 24, 2019 at 8:29 pm

Trump plays chess while the Rapinoes and Rusty Guardrails of the world play Jack’s. Maybe by the time of Mike Pence’s second term, the Communists and Leftists will realize that you cant win in the Electoral College by calling half the country racist.

Rusty Guardrail July 24, 2019 at 8:49 pm

Chess? Jacks?
“Communists and leftists labelling half the country as racist?” What communists and leftists? What on earth are you talking about? Did you accidentally fall in here from some other thread?

John ONeill July 24, 2019 at 10:57 pm

If anyone is ok with profanity and public speaking they are ignorant, and trash. No excuses. #sad

Tysen Canevari July 24, 2019 at 11:08 pm

We tune in on a Sunday to watch a football game for entertainment. We watch the world cup to see a wonderful soccer match. You have the attention of people because of your athletic ability. If you want to protest then there is a time and place for it. I think that this website should require your full name so people dont hide behind the keyboard. Also, beware because Trump might win again!

Jo July 25, 2019 at 6:24 am

Yes, Mr. ONeill, our current conman-in-chief, known for obliviously remarking on “s–thole countries,” is ignorant, trash, and very, very #sad.

Milly July 25, 2019 at 6:33 am

It is hard to separate Trump from the usual respect for the office of the presidency. His daily behavior of cyber bullying, telling lies, using foul language etc. He is not the norm of a president. He gives no respect to anyone – so how does he deserve respect. When the president behaves like this how can you complain about any other person’s BAD behavior.

Tysen Canevari July 25, 2019 at 6:45 am

Kneeling for the most sacred song in America is totally disrespectful Ron. I guess he got what he deserved. The owners did the right thing.

Amanda July 25, 2019 at 6:57 am

Hi Tysen! Daily reminder:

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Bush: Whatever you want.

Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

John ONeill July 25, 2019 at 7:01 am

@Jo – so you’d agree that Rapinoe and anyone else who uses that language in a public forum is trash..Glad we are in agreement…

John Levin July 25, 2019 at 8:55 am

Marie: thank you. My sentiment EXACTLY. I’m still searching for a ‘thumb’s up’ button, to no avail. You local? Last name?

Rapinoe and Kaepernick fall into the same category of activist as Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos: star athletes using, and risking, their hard earned status to peacefully speak their own conscience and address urgent social justice issues of our nation. We can’t all be Harriet Tubman (and not get our face onto a $20 bill), but we each each can do our part and contribute as we can. The bar to being an activist indeed is low: now more of us need to step over it.

Rusty Guardrail July 25, 2019 at 9:25 am

While I abide by rules and guidelines such as those of this forum, I personally don’t object to people cursing and swearing in a public speech—and I’m not “ignorant”, and I’m not “trash”, and Mr. John O’Neil should restrain his name-calling.

John Miller July 25, 2019 at 1:19 pm

I am disheartened by the tenor of many of the above comments which reflect the sad state of the political discourse in the country as a whole, but am not surprised. This has been going on for a very long time with it’s current iteration most likely originating in the 1960’s which featured the disruption of a political convention, the bombing of banks and police stations by anarchists, and the vilification of soldiers returning from Vietnam. Evidently, we don’t do a very good job as a country learning the lessons of history because, here we are people, doing the same thing all over again but this time is worse because people are vilifying anyone for virtually any reason that the person doing the vilifying believes to be politically correct. By the way, this is my real name an it can be found on one of the bronze plaques outside the front entrance of City Hall in the Vietnam section.

Tysen Canevari July 25, 2019 at 7:26 pm

@ Amanda:: Didnt Bill Clinton grab Monica by the $#@#$ in the oval office? Wasnt Kennedy running around with Marilyn Monroe? Its not a trump thing it is a presidential thing. Trump has awful manners and an even worse mouth. However, he was elected president. If you think it is ok to kneel for the anthem then you have issues. Rapinoe and her 15 minutes is all up anyway. No endorsements for her and she can take her $250k and run off into the sunset with Sue Bird. Sue will leave her soon because she has class. Rapinoe embarasses her teammates much like Trump runs his mouth. Whats the difference between either?

Rusty Guardrail July 25, 2019 at 8:09 pm

Robert Mueller yesterday regarding Russian interference in U.S. elections: “It wasn’t a single attempt. They’re doing it as we sit here and they expect to do it during the next campaign.”

F.B.I. Director Christopher A. Wray on Tuesday: “The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocking 2 election security bills from the Senate floor last night: “This is partisan legislation from the Democratic House of Representatives”

McConnell has blocked every attempt to bring election security to the Senate floor, including bi-partisan efforts such as the DETER Act co-authored by Senators Lindsay Graham (R) and Dick Durbin (D).

Jim McGuire July 25, 2019 at 9:12 pm

Irina Comer:
I read and appreciated your post. I interpreted your message as “why can’t we be more civil in our discourse”. Sadly, almost immediately, the comments became “he’s not civil, so why should I be”.

John Miller:
You capped the messages off perfectly. You responded eloquently, you served us with no recognition, and you do not hide behind a pseudonym. You embody what I interpret the original poster’s message to be:

Everyone, PLEASE, breathe deeply. Let others have opinions. Don’t feel the need to scream and yell when they do.

Itsjustme July 26, 2019 at 4:24 pm

As a proud American I was hoping the US lost. This way, the entire topic off these oh so oppressed folks visiting the White House would be moot.

I must be deplorable.

Rusty Guardrail July 27, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Your wish for the spectacular best-in-class U.S. team to have lost doesn’t bespeak the pride that you claim to have. Also, you’d do well to learn the difference between the words “of” and “off”.

Athletes, entertainers, and other such public figures know the career risk associated with speaking their minds. Some such individuals are nonetheless brave enough to express their convictions.

Curious Voter July 29, 2019 at 4:44 pm

News Flash folks, if you haven’t figured it out yet you must live on Jupiter or in a cave, Trump is a pure racist and unfortunately president of all of us not 40 percent. If anyone supports him again publicly I have to wonder about how they feel about people of color. You can’t use the excuse tax cuts because we (middle/lower class Americans) broke even at best. You can’t say the economy because were about to end up with a 2 trillion dollar deficit our children and grandchildren will pay for. Immigration, not that either. Climate change, no not that either. Drain the swamp, no not that either, he’s filling it up with his own brand of swamp creatures. All politicians lie doesn’t cut it either, over 10,000 lies or misleading statements in a little over 900 days. Name one president that told that many lies, c’mon folks! I recall hearing from his supporters he was the best choice because he wasn’t a politician. So all politicians lie doesn’t cut it either, since he isn’t one right? So what is it about this lying racist, misogynistic fool you like? Other than he’s not Hillary! Good time for anonymity here. I’m not mad at his supporters but please don’t make the rest of us suffer anymore than four years with this racist, misogynistic, lying, incompetent as president fool. Thanking you in advance.

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