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Prospective Olympian Can’t Represent the Country While Rejecting It

Charles Cooke of National Review Online explores a current Olympics controversy.

Dan Crenshaw argues that Gwen Berry should be removed from the U.S. Olympic team:

“Representative Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) is calling for Gwen Berry, a hammer thrower, to be removed from the Olympic team after she turned her back on the American flag and covered her face with a shirt that said ‘Activist Athlete’ during the national anthem on Saturday.

“’We don’t need any more activist athletes,’ Crenshaw said during an appearance on Fox & Friends. ‘She should be removed from the team. The entire point of the Olympic team is to represent the United States of America. It’s the entire point.’”

Isn’t Crenshaw self-evidently correct? We’re not talking here about the government punishing Berry for her political opinions. We’re talking about an athletic organization reacting to Berry’s unwillingness to accept the conditions that go along with doing something that is, ultimately, a choice. Competing in the Olympics on behalf of one’s nation is not a condition of citizenship or an unavoidable part of life; it is something that one explicitly elects to do. Like Crenshaw, I do not understand how one can expect to represent the United States while objecting to the anthem and the flag of the United States. It would be akin to expecting to represent the New York Yankees while disavowing the city and refusing to wear pinstripes. We are all free to make decisions, and to justify those decisions however we see fit. We must be free, too, to deal with the consequences. If Berry wishes to compete in the Olympics without the baggage that comes with being an American, she can apply to do so independently.

On the other hand, there is a proper role for politics involving the Olympics. The games’ organizers should stand against rogue nations such as communist China.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...