The U.S. soccer captain’s strong words toward Trump should come as no surprise for her fans
Written byGoldie Taylor
Megan Rapinoe isn’t trying to play it cool. Not on a long drive downfield during a World Cup soccer match, and not when it comes to taking a stand on social justice issues. The U.S. women’s team captain prefers a bullhorn of righteousness to a bunker of privilege secured by her own whiteness.
If dissent is indeed the highest form of patriotism, then Rapinoe is among its most fervent standard bearers. Tell that to Donald Trump, who lost whatever marbles he had left after Rapinoe announced this week that she would not accept an invitation to the White House. When Rapinoe’s comments hit the internet, Trump—the Twitter warrior-in-chief—said, “Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!” and demanded that she “Finish the job!”
She could have taken one look at the public backlash and the lost career Kaepernick worked a lifetime to achieve, and simply said: That ain’t it.
Her rebuke clearly caught him off guard. But, truth be told, Rapinoe’s audacious, expletive-laced response—captured on video with a soccer magazine—should have surprised no one.
In the years since former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick first dropped down on one knee to protest police violence in non-white communities, it might have been easy for a girl from predominantly white Redding, Calif., to shrug it all off, to ignore the horrors unfolding on the streets and avenues of that other America. She could have taken one look at the public backlash and the lost career Kaepernick worked a lifetime to achieve, and simply said: That ain’t it.
She could have ignored the headlines: a 12-year-old black boy shot in a snowy park by a Cleveland police officer; an executive order effectively banning Muslim travel to the U.S.; Trump’s mealy-mouthed response to the marauding, bat-wielding white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville shouting “Jews will not replace us!” She could have turned a blind eye to a White House that justifies detaining children as young as 4 months old in concentration camps along our nation’s southern border. She could have ignored newly proposed HUD policies allowing transgender discrimination at homeless shelters, and the administration’s nomination of anti-gay activists to federal benches across the land.
After all, no one would have noticed. Her silence would not have evoked a scintilla of scorn. No one would have noticed if she had chosen to put every ounce of her energy onto the field, saving none for the least of these, saving none for the people who wake up every morning a suspect, people demonized as undeserving of the so-called American Dream.
But that has never been who she is.
A staunch defender of LGBTQ rights, three years ago, Rapinoe—who is gay—became the first female athlete to kneel during a pre-match national anthem. The U.S. Soccer Federation changed the rules, requiring all national team members to “stand respectfully” as the song is played.
“I’m the same Megan Rapinoe you’ve known for years now … I haven’t experienced over-policing, racial profiling, police brutality or the sight of a family member’s body lying dead in the street,” the 33-year-old wrote in The Player’s Tribune. “But I cannot stand idly by while there are people in this country who have had to deal with that kind of heartache.”
Trump remains resentful that almost nobody—save for a gaggle of sycophants, cash-on-the-barrel lobbyists and hardline right-wing activists—wants to be seen anywhere with him.
She certainly won’t be standing next to Donald Trump. After all, when it comes to enforcing and advancing civil protections, Trump would rather cozy up to some of the world’s best known authoritarians, some of whom themselves have been accused of murdering dissidents.
“It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” she told the Guardian in an interview. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done. But it is still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”
Two and a half years after his inauguration, Trump remains resentful that almost nobody—save for a gaggle of sycophants, cash-on-the-barrel lobbyists and hardline right-wing activists—wants to be seen anywhere with him. He is resentful that he—a man of few (misspelled) letters whose very loyalty to this republic is an unresolved question—is not embraced as the “stable genius” he purports himself to be.
It should be said that Rapinoe now stands before matches, albeit silently with her hands clasped behind her back. But she does not do so alone. Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger took to social media and spared nothing in a scalding tweet: “In regards to the ‘President’s’ tweet today, I know women who you cannot control or grope anger you, but I stand by @mPinoe & will sit this one out as well.”
Despite Trump’s “win or lose” invitation, Rapinoe is “not going to the fucking White House.” And—unless and until the unlikely event that this president reverses course on human rights issues, demonstrates a modicum of sanity and works to restore respect to the Oval Office—neither should anyone else.