Gwen Berry crossed the line by turning her back at the podium at the Olympic trials in Oregon on Saturday, according to a growing chorus of Republican lawmakers. The hammer-thrower turned away in disgust during the scheduled playing of the anthem, and then claimed the organizers were out to get her.
“It was real disrespectful,” she said. “I feel like it was a setup, and they did it on purpose,” Berry added. “I was pissed, to be honest.”
The major issue with Berry’s complaint, beyond it being patently ridiculous for an aspiring Team USA athlete to object to the playing of the National Anthem, is that records show the playing of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ was scheduled for 5:20 p.m.
Berry is now experiencing heavy blowback for the stunt, which she claims is consistent with her desire to highlight ‘structural racism’ as ubiquitous in American society. Senator Tom Cotton now wants to see Berry removed from Team USA.
“I don’t think it’s too much, when athletes are competing to wear the Stars and Stripes — to compete under the Stars and Stripes in the Olympics — for them to simply honor that flag and our anthem on the medal stand,” Cotton said on Fox News. “If Ms. Berry is so embarrassed by America, then there’s no reason she needs to compete for our country. She should be removed from the Olympic team.”
A House Republican, former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw, would also like to see Olympic athletes removed for disrespecting their host country and embarrassing it on the national stage.
“We don’t need any more ‘activist athletes.’ She should be removed from the team. You know, the entire point of the Olympic team is to represent the United States of America. That’s the entire point, okay?” Rep. Dan Crenshaw said. “It’s one thing when these NBA players do it. OK, fine, we’ll just stop watching. But now, the Olympic team – and it’s multiple cases of this. They should be removed. That should be the bare minimum requirement, is that you believe in the country you’re representing.”
Berry explained that she turned away from the podium because the national anthem doesn’t ‘speak for her.’
“They said they were going to play it before we walked out, then they played it when we were out there,” Berry said. “But I don’t really want to talk about the anthem because that’s not important. The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has.”
“My purpose and my mission is bigger than sports,” Berry said. “I’m here to represent those … who died due to systemic racism. That’s the important part. That’s why I’m going. That’s why I’m here today.”
In addition to Republican congressmembers, Berry’s disdainful act towards the U.S.’s national anthem was blasted by conservative media pundits.
“I’d love to see someone from an actually oppressive country try this shit. Hell, I wouldn’t mind if they threw her off Team USA, but they’re gutless and will give her a participation trophy just to assuage their own baggage,” Ricochet editor Bethan Mandel said on Twitter.
“Why do we have athletes representing America who don’t like America?” Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe asked.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.