In response to accusations online from her critics, United States soccer star Megan Rapinoe has said that she’s ‘uniquely and extremely American,’ amidst accusations of her alleged lack of patriotism, when a video gained popularity in recent weeks, a video in which she said, “I’m not going to the f****** White House.” Supposing the U.S. Women’s Soccer team wins the World Cup, the possibility that Rapinoe and the team might be invited to the White House to visit the President, a President who’s been extremely harsh on minority groups, minority groups that Rapinoe has long been an outspoken representative of. Megan Rapinoe is openly lesbian and supports both feminist and LGBTQ causes vocally.
These ideas of equality and justice — ideals which this American nation were ironically founded upon — fly in the face of the President’s personal positions, like that trans persons should be deprived an opportunity to serve in the military under his administration and his support for “religious freedoms” which at this point in United States history basically just serve as code for, ‘the oppression of LGBTQ persons.’
Let’s not forget, Trump said that he was against the Supreme Court decision which legalized LGBTQ marriages under then-President Obama, denouncing it as “shocking” and saying that he believed it should have gone to the states to make the decision, rather than the full federal legalization that it is now. For those that doubt this claim, there’s a video of him saying it here.
It’s safe to say, Trump isn’t just a little bit anti-LGBTQ, he’s okay with the idea that a state should be able to ban gay marriage, which means that Trump directly supports a policy which would allow states to deprive Rapinoe herself of the right to marry, supposing the chose to. These two world-views are bound to conflict, a story that isn’t new when it comes to conservatives and minority athletes, as this latest feud between Trump and minorities, eerily reeks of the long and drawn out battle between the conservative right and Colin Kaepernick when he openly supported Black Lives Matter by taking a knee during The National Anthem before his NFL games.
“Megan should WIN first BEFORE she talks! Finish the job!” tweeted Trump in an angry retort to the resurfacing of the months-old video of Rapinoe, which basically amounts to saying, “Shut up and play soccer. You aren’t entitled to speak.” This is dehumanization in its purest and most widespread form, the idea that we have to somehow check our values at the door the moment we clock into work, or, in the case of Rapinoe, the moment we compete on the world stage to represent the United States. Let me get this straight: the President is perfectly fine with states taking away her rights, yet, somehow feels entitled to her playing soccer in order to represent the nation? She will play, and playing as she has, she’ll likely win, and I hope she doesn’t visit a President who’s so antithetical to the very values that Rapinoe boldly espouses on and off the field. She speaks to her fans and to a large segment of America and should not be silenced the way Kaepernick was for speaking out against very serious crimes of police brutality. The ultimately silencing of Kaepernick came when he’s yet to return to football shows that he’s effectively been silenced by conservative outrage — not to mention, he lost his career.
White, male privilege wins again…
Interesting how that works, isn’t it? Go along with the status quo oppression, up to and including shooting unarmed citizens in the streets, and you’ll be fine, but supposing you have any sort of moral fabric of your own, you’ll be told to shut up and do your job, and you might even lose that job as a result of speaking your conscience. This isn’t anything new, either, Mohammed Ali was banned from boxing for three years at the height of his boxing career after objecting to the Vietnam War and refusing to go after being drafted. The boxer felt it wrong to go shoot strangers because his country told him to and for no other reason, only avoiding jail-time because he appealed to conscientious objector status, claiming that his religious beliefs prevented him from killing others.
When did white, male conservativism become so entitled? When did it become okay to just say, “Shut up, you don’t get an opinion on this issue?” Answer: It’s been this way for thousands of years and it’s just starting to change now. This is why figures like Rapinoe and Kaepernick are so important in the face of oppression, by standing up for themselves in the face of tyrannical authority, they send the message to others to do the same, and one day, we all wake up and the world changed before our very eyes.