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Right-Wing Media Outlets Put Feelings Over Facts to Justify Knee-Jerk USWNT National Anthem Outrage

"It's believable."

Members of the US Women's national soccer team celebrate and hug after scoring a goal.

The U.S. women’s national soccer team is back in action, prepping for the Tokyo Olympics, which means it’s about time for conservative media outlets to manufacture some faux outrage.

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Ahead of the team’s match against Mexico on Monday night, a 98-year-old World War II veteran named Pete DuPré played the national anthem on his harmonica. Some players stood with their arms at their sides, some placed their hands on their hearts, and a few players turned away from DuPré—a move that conservative individuals and outlets immediately started yelling about online, calling it “disgusting” and “insufferable.” Many expressed hope that the American soccer team loses in the Olympics, which sure is a funny way to prove your patriotism.

In a completely unsurprising turn of events, this frenzied attack on the players’ presumed hatred of America was as misplaced as it was knee-jerk. The women who turned away from DuPré were actually turning toward the flag, which was at the end of the field.

The USWNT pushed back against the outrage, tweeting, “To be clear, no one turned their back on WWII Veteran Pete DuPré during tonight’s anthem. Some USWNT players were simply looking at the flag on a pole in one end of the stadium. The players all love Pete, thanked him individually after the game and signed a ball for him.”

“This is respect. Each and every player waited for their opportunity to come up to Pete post-game before getting on the bus, said hello, thanked him and signed his ball,” they wrote in another tweet.

Player Carli Lloyd responded directly to a conservative Canadian outlet called The Post Millenial, whose video of the event is what stirred up most of the initial fury. “We turned because we faced the flag,” Lloyd wrote.

This is where the team should have gotten a full apology from everyone who insulted them, but I don’t think I have to tell you that that’s not what happened.

The Post Millenial’s tweet calling the women “disgraceful” is still up, but they did at least change their headline from shaming the women who turned to the flag to shaming … everyone else.

Meanwhile, on Fox News, Clay Travis tried to justify the outrage by saying it’s “believable” that players would turn their back on the flag during the anthem and that the believability is “emblematic of where we are with sports now.”

To be clear, these players are 100% free to do whatever they want here. During their domestic games within the National Women’s Soccer League, many of these same players frequently engage in silent acts of protest, including kneeling during the anthem. But that didn’t happen here.

But I guess we can’t expect everyone to be able to put facts over their feelings.

(via Yahoo! Sports, image: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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