The Opening Ceremony was Friday night. It’s officially underway. But before we move on, I have to share this little tidbit with you, because it’s driving me mad.
Michael Phelps was chosen by his teammates to be the flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony. Rightly so. He deserves it. He has what? 22 medals? But his accomplishments be damned. No matter how talented he is or how many medals he holds, at the end of the day, he’s still a white guy. That’s why liberals urged him to give up his position as flag bearer and hand it over to Ibtihaj Muhammad, a black Muslim woman who’s famous for wearing a hijab during fencing matches.
I’m dead serious.
She’s so much more qualified than Phelps. I mean, she’s a triple threat. She’s a woman. She’s black. She’s Muslim. And as an added bonus, she hates Donald Trump!
“When you incite hateful speech and rhetoric like that, the people who say it never think about the repercussions and how that affects Muslims,” Muhammad said of the Republican candidate.
CNN even ran an op-ed by W. Kamau Bell, who urged Phelps to give up his position. He’s not deserving of it because America’s sick of “tall, successful, rich white guys hogging the spotlight trying to make America great … again.”
“Muhammad carrying the flag would be much bigger than your one moment,” Bell writes. “It would be a symbol for our country in this moment when we are mostly known for one of the most contentious, controversial, scandal-ridden, hateful, xenophobic, jingoistic, and just generally unlikeable presidential elections in recent memory. This is at a time when we could use some more symbols of unity and togetherness.”
“Your stepping back will allow this moment to become something bigger than just another opening ceremony. No offense, but right now America has enough tall, successful, rich white guys hogging the spotlight trying to make America great … again.”
The Guardian ran a similar article:
Muhammad is the ideal of today’s America, a place where a girl from New Jersey can grow up with an Olympic dream and make it come true despite whatever voices hiss in disdain at the sight of her competing in a hijab. For a world that must wonder if the US has gone mad in an election year where a candidate has whipped up a frenzy of fear around anyone who doesn’t look like him, the best message the US could have sent was putting Muhammad at the front of its delegation on Friday night.
Muhammad said that day that she never once questioned herself as an American despite growing anti-Muslim rhetoric in the US. “This is my home, my family has always been here, and it’s a part of who I am and it’s all I know,” she said.
The world needs to see Ibtihaj Muhammad. It needs to know that she is what America is: an improbable self-made success.
But Phelps? He’s not a self-made success. He’s a tall, talented, rich white guy. He doesn’t count.