Here’s an evergreen opening for you: Right-wing media is outraged that [people they perceive to be “woke”] are [doing … something]. In this case, members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team stood silently when the national anthem was played at the World Cup in Auckland, New Zealand. They didn’t take a knee, they didn’t raise a fist in protest, they didn’t grimace, and they didn’t shout. They stood silently and what you might call respectfully, if you weren’t dedicated to being outraged.
Commence the social media screaming. “The most shameful conduct.” “An insult to every American.” “An attack on our country, our flag, and those who fought and died for our nation.” Former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, looking for traction in the Republican presidential primary, tweeted reproachfully about it. Many commentators took Haley’s approach, lecturing these women at the pinnacle of their sport, women who waged and won a years-long fight for equal pay, as if they were insufficiently grateful children.
But many who’ve served in the military noted that in that setting, they were taught to stand silently—just like the soccer players did. “I guess Marines are unpatriotic when we don’t sing the anthem,” Ron Filipkowski tweeted. Military.com says nothing about singing along with the anthem.
The degree to which this outrage is completely fake cannot possibly be overemphasized. This is a lesson that the goalposts will always move if Fox News is determined to attack you. The mere presence of Megan Rapinoe on that team means there must be an offense to be found and yelled about, because Rapinoe did kneel, starting in 2016. She wrote about that decision:
I can understand if you think that I’m disrespecting the flag by kneeling, but it is because of my utmost respect for the flag and the promise it represents that I have chosen to demonstrate in this way. When I take a knee, I am facing the flag with my full body, staring straight into the heart of our country’s ultimate symbol of freedom — because I believe it is my responsibility, just as it is yours, to ensure that freedom is afforded to everyone in this country.
That kind of nuance can never be allowed, and even years later, with Rapinoe standing during the anthem, right-wing media were determined to find something to be angry about. Because the right-wing media always needs something to be angry about.
It’s exhausting living in a country and a time when a huge sector of media and politicians and would-be influencers are always trying to build power and keep their base mobilized by pushing rage.
From Fox News to Donald Trump to Ted Cruz to Marjorie Taylor Greene to Ben Shapiro to Dinesh D’Souza, the business model is to find reasons for the Republican base to be angry and scared at all times. And we know how scary successful women are—especially when they’re LGBTQ+ and/or outspoken. So the members of the USWNT should go about their business (winning soccer games), and ignore this so-called scandal completely. Because if it wasn’t this, it would have been something else.