On coming to the US for the first time over a decade ago, my husband quickly noticed something about Americans.
Our flag is everywhere.
Not only does it hang at many offices and businesses – many homes have their own small flagpole on the porch. Decor and clothing emblazoned with the stars and stripes are a common sight year-round.
This is not something that every country does.
But we’ve been slacking of late, according to US conservative media giant Fox News.
Under the screen banner of “New Concerns About American Patriotism at Olympics“, Fox News commentators Alisyn Camerota and David Webb congratulate history-making gymnast Gabby Douglas (cherubic nemesis of stone-faced Russian silver and bronze winners) while questioning her devotion to her home country.
“Gabby had that great moment, everyone was so excited,” Camerota says of Gabby’s win in the women’s all-around gymnastics final, “and she’s in hot pink.”
What should Gabby have been wearing? Three colors. I’ll let you guess which ones.
“We’re not as vociferous as we once were about shouting ‘USA’ and draping ourselves in the flag,” Camerota mourns. Why couldn’t Gabby have shown her love of America by performing in a star-spangled suit?
The two commentators tut sorrowfully over Gabby’s lack of nationalistic pride.
“What we’re seeing is this kind of soft anti-American feeling that Americans can’t show our exceptionalism,” Webb says.
Camerota wonders if Americans have become wary of appearing too vain in the eyes of the world.
She wonders if Americans like Gabby are saying, “we know we’re great, but let’s be great quietly.” If so, shame on them.
Camerota and Webb applaud the Chinese gymnasts for wearing red – how patriotic of them. If only the American Olympians could have followed that example.
“I never won any athletic trophies,” Camerota chuckles in the segment. But she and Gabby do have something in common. While Camerota laments Americans’ modern failure to “drape themselves in the flag”, it’s clear that she doesn’t see wearing red, white and blue as a primary responsibility of conservative news anchors – Camerota wears a pink dress in the segment.
I wrote a story recently about a Philadelphia youth soccer team that traveled to Sweden for an international tournament including 70 countries. When they arrived, the US boys got special recognition not because they wrapped themselves in the flag and set about declaring their nationalist pride in America as the best country in the world, but because of all the teams in the tournament, the US team was the most diverse. It included not only players whose families were from North and South America, but Europe and Africa as well.
When it comes to the Olympics, let’s harp less on the fact that not every athlete turns herself into a US flag burrito, and perhaps celebrate the fact that few other nations bring a team so full of athletes of every color.
Speaking of all our lovely colors, Camerota is white and Webb is black. But there’s still something a bit fishy about how they criticize Gabby for wearing pink.
Not only is Camerota herself in pink. As Bleacherreport.com points out, 2008 US gymnastics gold medalist Nastia Liukin won in pink as well.
Any whaddaya know, here’s the gold-medal-winning Rebecca Soni, Captain of the 2012 US Women’s Olympic Swim Team:
Did those Fox pundits give a peep about Liukin or Soni? No.
I wonder why?
Rock on, Gabby!
For more on my feelings about American exceptionalism, check out my poem, “The United States’ Ultimate Crushing Doom, Upon Us in the Year 2011“.