Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Does Gwen Berry Hate America?

She may not have won the hammer throw but Gwen Berry has drawn far more attention for her stunt at the closing ceremony. As you know, in the ceremony that finalized the results of the Olympic throw, Berry, who qualified to compete in Tokyo in the woman's hammer throw by coming in third, threw a tantrum. She turned her back on the national anthem and wrapped herself in a tee shirt that proclaimed her to be a black activist.

Piers Morgan described the scene well in The Daily Mail:

As the two other competitors who had beaten her turned respectfully to face the American flag and placed their hands on their hearts, furious Berry turned the other way, placed her hands angrily on her hips, and then held up a T-shirt proclaiming the words 'ATHLETE ACTIVIST' before putting it over her head.

She preened, she sulked, she sighed, she frowned, and she eye-rolled in one of the most pathetic tantrums I've ever seen from anyone supposedly representing their country.

Berry claimed she'd been 'set up' by organizers who knew she would hate standing on the podium as the Star Spangled Banner played.

'I felt like they did it on purpose,' she moaned.

Really, Gwen?

You think the people running a huge and very complex logistical operation like the US Olympic trials during a global pandemic had nothing better to do than secretly plot to annoy you, the third best female performer at the Hammer?

God, the mind-blowing dismissive arrogance of this statement.

No offence, but to borrow a line from Top Gun, methinks your ego's writing cheques your body can't cash.

Naturally, the White House, in the person of press secretary Jen Psaki rushed to defend Gwen Berry. Claiming that President Biden is a great patriot, Psaki declared that Berry was merely protesting against-- whatever. Just as the rioters who burned and looted America’s great blue cities, who attacked the police and government offices, were really just protesting.

Naturally, we would prefer to think that Berry was merely speaking for herself. We would prefer that her act, which is not a protest, but is a repudiation of the nation, be limited to her. The country can tolerate an unhinged athlete throwing tantrums. And yet, once the White House embraces such a grotesque repudiation of the country, once it gives the OK to a flagrantly unpatriotic expression, it has generalized the gesture, and has made it a defining gesture. 

Thanks to Gwen Berry and the White House, and also thanks to the Black Lives Matter protesters, we have now been told, in no uncertain terms, that the American Democratic Party and minority Americans hate the country. If you imagine that this will advance the cause of civil rights or of racial integration, you are smoking the wrong kind of cigarettes.

In other words, it’s one thing for a distempered Colin Kaepernick to repudiate the country. Once Nike takes up his cause and makes him a rich national hero, his gesture comes to define more than his person. Once other black political leaders rush to defend him, they are saying that if you are black you can act like you are not part of the country. But that means, other people can reasonably question your loyalty and trustworthiness. Is this really what we want?

Of course, once blacks tell non-blacks that you are not loyal or trustworthy, this affects the way they treat you. Sorry to put it so starkly, but the goals of social harmony and racial integration have been thrown out, not only by the hapless and hopeless Gwen Berry, but by the Biden White House-- and by anyone who supports her. 

As calls rose up for her to be thrown off the Olympic team, Berry tried to defend herself. She said this-- apologies for the illiteracy:

'I never said I hated this country!' she tweeted. 'People try to put words in my mouth but they can't. That's why I speak out. I LOVE MY PEOPLE. These comments really show that: 1.) people in America rally patriotism over basic morality. 2.) Even after the murder of George Floyd and so many others; the commercials, statements, and phony sentiments regarding black lives were just a hoax.'

If you want to be very literal minded, you can say that she never said anything-- with words, that is. Her actions, however, spoke loudly. They said that she hates her country. We do not really know what she means when she says that she loves her people. Would that be the American people or the black people of Missouri. She never said that she loves her country or that she feels any sense of loyalty to her country. 

She makes clear that she does not consider her people-- what does it mean to use the possessive pronoun here-- to be her fellow Americans. 

I have no idea what she means when she says that people in America “rally patriotism over basic morality.” I imagine that it’s a typo. So, she was standing up for basic morality by standing against America. She was trying to divide the country, to advance social and racial divisions in the name of basic morality.

Then again, morality is designed to produce and to sustain harmony, to help people to function within a cohesive nation. Now, Berry has undermined that, with the aid, more importantly, of the Biden White House.

As for morality, Emile Durkheim, one of the founders of modern sociology and social science, explained its purpose in his 1897 book, The Division of Labor in Society:

... the need of order, harmony, and social solidarity is generally considered moral.

In truth, there is nothing moral in grandstanding against your country, in trying to produce division and antagonism. It is altogether possible to love your country-- or even your spouse-- despite its flaws. But to argue that its flaws are the only thing that matters, does not express pride or loyalty or love of country.

Piers Morgan recommended that Berry resign from the American team. It would be the proper way to show how ashamed she is in her country. If she refuses, then she should be removed from the team. I do not believe that America should send her to represent the country. Morgan writes:

But I would simply ask her this: if you genuinely feel such shame in America's anthem and flag that you feel the need to throw such a pathetic tantrum, why would you WANT to represent your country?

Surely the braver, more principled thing to do is withdraw, and let someone replace you who feels pride, not shame, in representing America? 

As far as America is concerned, Gwen Berry’s repudiation of America is a bad sign. It is a bad sign when large segments of the population hate the country. It is divisive and corrosive. It stokes hostility and antagonism. As Gerard Baker wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

In most countries in the world, if a talented athlete had been trained, developed and selected from thousands to represent the nation, then went and publicly trashed it all, the public opprobrium would be unrelenting.

In America, you disrespect the institutions of your country, and you get lionized by the media. You take a knee or turn away from the flag or refuse to take the field or the court while the national anthem is played, and you get nodding assent from the authorities who control the sport. You can denounce what your country stands for and get elected to Congress.

Baker’s remarks echo a statement made by Durkheim in the aforementioned work:

There is no society where attacks against national sentiments or national institutions have ever been tolerated.

Surely, that is stark. But it is clear. And it does not refer to our country in particular. It suggests that when attacks against national sentiments or national institutions are tolerated, even praised from the office of the presidency, America is in very big trouble-- and that it lacks the will to address the issue.


Leo G said...

2 quick thoughts -

- she wants the world stage to get her "Rippinoe" effect

- Dixie Chicks

Sam L. said...

"In America, you disrespect the institutions of your country, and you get lionized by the media. You take a knee or turn away from the flag or refuse to take the field or the court while the national anthem is played, and you get nodding assent from the authorities who control the sport. You can denounce what your country stands for and get elected to Congress."

The "media" hates America. As I keep saying, I don't KNOW if the media is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democrat party, or if it's the other way round, but it's OBVIOUS that they are in CAHOOTS.

Anonymous said...

That last quote is the most telling, perhaps inadvertently? 'There is no society where...' and in fact, the United States of America is no longer A society. It is a group of increasingly divided, increasingly angry, increasingly suspicious societies. Any one got a match?

Lorenzo said...

She surely knows that, if she competes in the Olympics and gets a medal, the anthem will be played. If she really couldn't bear the thought of that, she should stay home!

IamDevo said...

Her actions were and are insignificant but inflated to the top of the page by the "media" in another in the continuing series of propaganda pieces designed to keep the populace stirred up. W. R. Hearst has been anointed the father of the "yellow journalism" genre, but he only improved on the model that has been in place for ages. Mencken, in speaking about politics, but which could be applied equally to the modern media said, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." Granted, his suggestion that "all" of the hobgoblins were imaginary was hyperbolic, but the kernel of truth lies in the fact that media is a business, and seeks its own profit. Keeping the rubes stirred up, rather than calmly informing them of matters of import remains the business model.