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On CNN, Soccer Star Megan Rapinoe Defends American Values Against Trump

Megan Rapinoe, star of the World Cup champion U.S. Women’s National Team, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday that she refuses to lend credibility to the Trump administration by accepting an invitation to the White House.

In the interview, Rapinoe rejected the division Trump sows while embracing a vision of America that welcomes people from all walks of life.

Asked by Cooper what message she had for Trump, Rapinoe replied: “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.”

Rapinoe, described by Deadspin as a “purple-haired lesbian goddess” after she helped lead the U.S. team to a 2-1 victory over France in the World Cup quarterfinals, seemed to be referencing the Trump administration’s numerous attacks on the LGBTQ community.

“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,'” Rapinoe continued in her message to Trump. “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 now, but it’s not great for enough Americans in this world.”

“I think we have a responsibility, each and every one of us — you have an incredible responsibility as the chief of this country — to take care of every single person,” Rapinoe added. “And you need to do better for everyone.”

Later, Rapinoe called on all Americans to reflect on how to build that more perfect union. “We need to constantly look within and challenge ourselves to be better, so everyone else can be better around us,” she said.

Rapinoe made headlines in the midst of the World Cup when a video of her preemptively rejecting an invitation to the White House was released.

“I’m not going to the fucking White House,” Rapinoe said in the video. Rapinoe subsequently apologized for the use of the f-word, but told Cooper that she “meant it with all the inflection and attitude I gave with it. I meant all of it and every word of it.”

In the middle of the World Cup, Trump attacked Rapinoe, saying, “Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!” Trump also questioned Rapinoe’s patriotism: “Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear.”

After Trump’s attack, Rapinoe’s teammate, Ali Krieger, shot back at him: “I know women who you cannot control or grope anger you, but I stand by @mPinoe [Rapinoe] and will sit this one out as well. I don’t support this administration nor their fight against LGBTQ+ citizens, immigrants & our most vulnerable.”

After Trump’s attacks, Rapinoe went on to score both goals in her team’s 2-1 victory over France, and one of the team’s two goals in the World Cup final.

When asked by Cooper about the possibility of visiting the White House, Rapinoe once again rejected the notion.

“I don’t think anyone on the team has any interest in lending the platform we’ve worked hard to build and the things that we fight for and the way that we live our life, I don’t think we want that to be co-opted or corrupted by this administration,” Rapinoe told Cooper.

“There’s so many other people that I would rather talk to and have meaningful conversations that could really affect change in Washington than going to the White House,” she added.

Rapinoe said she will accept the invitations issued by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Congress. But she won’t step foot in the White House while Trump is there.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

#EndorseThis: Daily Show Row With France Not Over Says Trevor Noah

After the France National Team won gold at the World Cup in Russia, Trevor Noah joked that 80% of Les Bleus 23-man roster was of African descent, smirking that “Africa won the World Cup.” The line got laughs, like just about everything the brilliant Daily Show anchor says to his audience. But the joke hasn’t sat so well with the government of France.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud addressed the comic harshly in a letter sent on Wednesday, charging that Noah’s racial humor has crossed a line into the type of rhetoric found on the French far-right. Some of the country’s citizens with African backgrounds have been called “not really French” by a loud minority of white supremacists.

In today’s emotionally-charged clip, Trevor denies Araud’s accusation that the joke challenges the French-ness of the athletes, and retaliates by questioning whether a “no hyphenated French” policy is the direction France’s culture should be moving in.

Is it just a matter of time before Trevor Noah is duking it out with Macron himself? Over the World Cup, no less?

Brief for the water cooler.

#EndorseThis: Trevor Noah Kicks Off World Cup By Nuking Russia

The 2018 World Cup has begun. It’s causing a stir around the world and a mere coffee drip in the United States. The USMNT failed to qualify, and Google alerts will spoil results by midday due to the time difference. Worse yet, the tournament is in Russia.

Trevor Noah is not pleased. The 34-year-old comic virtuoso is taking criticism from some YouTube fans after posting an edgy Daily Show clip lamenting Russia’s hosting of the World Cup. Noah briefly lets President Putin have it, then proceeds to send-up Russian culture in general.

While Russian customs and practices can be strange indeed, it feels over-the-top on Noah’s part that even service workers and old women aren’t safe from the weapons-grade derision.

The clip has two redeeming qualities. Trevor pauses to needle America and clown South African soccer fans, only fair. And of course, he is devilishly funny. As for the “mainstream racism” that radical centrists talk about, does that unfortunately apply here?

Click and be the jury.

Why Must Americans Clean Up a Foreign Sport?

The competent Loretta Lynch can no doubt handle the job of cleansing professional soccer of widespread corruption. But why is that the U.S. Attorney General’s job? One must ask.

The World Cup does attract a large U.S. audience every four years, but largely because it’s played when the basketball and hockey seasons are over. Soccer is the top sport on just about every continent except this one, north of the Rio Grande.

FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, is based in Switzerland. Only one of the 14 defendants indicted by the U.S. Justice Department is American. The roundup of senior FIFA officials happened at a five-star hotel in Zurich.

No one has adequately explained why the accused are being dragged to a federal court in Brooklyn, New York. Prosecutors there issued a 161-page indictment detailing, as Lynch put it, “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted” corruption. The findings are the result of, as the media always say, “a sweeping FBI investigation.”

And who is picking up the tab to restore decency to the national sport of other countries? The U.S. taxpayer.

In his 1925 novel, Arrowsmith, Sinclair Lewis observed the rewards in America’s urge to protect humankind. The papers could then “announce that America, which was always rescuing the world from something or other, had gone and done it again.”

This has led to noble campaigns — curing deadly illness everywhere and sending troops on solely humanitarian missions. It’s mystifying, though, how reforming a sport most Americans ignore, corrupted by officials in other countries, got on the American to-do list.

It pains one to agree with Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s Swiss president, but he’s right when he says that “with all the respect to the judicial system of the U.S. with a new minister of justice, the Americans, if they have a financial crime that regards American citizens, then they must arrest these people there and not in Zurich when we have a congress.”

Lynch argues that the sleaze involves Americans. For one thing, a former American member of FIFA’s executive committee, Chuck Blazer, pleaded guilty to evading U.S. income taxes. Good; simply go after Blazer and make sure he pays up.

Another reason for U.S. involvement, according to the indictments, is that the alleged conspirators sent bribe money to accounts at U.S. banks. Well, money involving almost everything goes through U.S. banks. No one is accusing the banks of wrongdoing.

Finally — and this reason is almost funny — some of the alleged malefactors supposedly discussed bribe payments at meetings in Miami and in Queens, New York. Investigators surely know that illegal payments, kickbacks and bribes that actually affect Americans are plentiful and awaiting discovery in Miami and Queens.

Defending the honor of professional soccer should be in the interests of the teams, the advertisers, associated businesses and fans. The growing tawdriness and violence at the games are already costing the sport followers in even the most soccer-crazy countries.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Justice Department has piled on its shoulders the work of saving this foreign sport from the foreigners ruining it. “Enough is enough,” Lynch boldly proclaims. But isn’t it ultimately up to the people who patronize soccer to say when they’ve had enough?

Fans in other countries are now thanking Lynch for her efforts. Why wouldn’t they? Americans are doing the work their governments should be doing but won’t, especially if Americans are marching in to set things aright.

Let’s start practicing indifference to the smaller offenses that barely touch the United States. The soccer scandal would have been a good start — but too late for that.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com. 

Photo: PAN photo via Flickr