The Many Lessons Of Rapinoe
Mercy, was that a moment.
First, Megan Rapinoe was on the receiving end of a three-tweet rant from Donald Trump. He was livid that she had told Sports Illustrated that she would not visit the White House as long as he’s in it.
She flicked that gnat off her shoulder, and then she and her teammates on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team went on to win their fourth World Cup title, in France.
Now, she’s back home, and on Tuesday night, she sat for an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “There’s a good chance the president is watching this interview, or will watch this interview,” Cooper said. “What is your message to the president?”
And that’s when 34-year-old Rapinoe gave the 73-year-old president of the United States a good talking-to about how to be presidential.
She turned to look straight into the camera of the president’s most hated network. This is what one does if one hopes to catch the attention of Donald Trump, because, of course, he would see her interview on CNN. Like a tongue on a cold sore, he just can’t stop obsessing over what pains him, which is factual reporting of his presidency.
In a calm and strong voice, Rapinoe laid it out for him:
“I think that I would say that your message is excluding people. You’re excluding me. You’re excluding people that look like me. You’re excluding people of color. You’re excluding, you know, Americans that maybe support you.
“I think that we need to have a reckoning with the message that you have, and what you’re saying about Make America Great Again. I think that you’re harking back to an era that was not great for everyone. It might have been great for a few people and maybe America is great for a few people right now, but it’s not great for enough Americans in this world, and I think we have a responsibility, each and every one of us, you have an incredible responsibility as, you know, the chief of this country to take care of every single person, and you need to do better for everyone.”
As I write this, Trump has yet to respond to Rapinoe’s message, and we know he wants to. Megan Rapinoe is virtually everything Donald Trump hates in a woman.
She is strong.
She is loud, and outspoken.
She swaggers and swears, and wears her hair in colors dictated by whim, not Vogue.
She is openly gay — and a tireless champion for LGBTQ rights and civil rights. She has kneeled during the playing of the national anthem in solidarity with black Americans and refused to sing the song at the World Cup. She knows that patriotism is not obedience, but rather an opportunity to help our country live up to its promises.
A reporter asked her if it was a contradiction to wear the Team USA uniform but not sing the national anthem. “Not really,” she said. “Because I feel like I’m a walking protest.”
She leads crowds in chants for pay equity. She’s comfortable in her own skin, too. At Wednesday’s World Cup celebration in New York City, she threw her arms open wide and asked that all of us to “be better,” not hashtag #BeBest.
“Love more and hate less,” she said after the city’s ticker tape parade.
“Listen more and talk less,” she said.
“It’s our responsibility,” she said, “to make the world a better place.”
She ended her speech with a swear word, which set Twitter on fire again, in a good way.
You see why he hates her.
Which brings us to one more reason why Rapinoe is inspiring. Her every public moment is a tutorial for girls and women on how to handle guys who try to shame or bully us. This happens only with our consent, and on that, Megan Rapinoe’s message is clear:
Swear if you want to.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.