Meghan McCain on Olympian Gwen Berry’s national anthem protest: ‘Not appropriate’

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“The anthem don’t speak for me. It never has,” the track and field star said.

In light of two-time Olympian and hammer thrower Gwen Berry boldly making a statement at the U.S. Olympics Trials, The View co-host Meghan McCain joined other conservatives in firing backlash.

McCain shared her opinions on The View on Tuesday as she criticized Berry’s protest taking place on an international stage.

Gwen Berry Meghan McCain thegrio.com
(Credit: Getty Images)

“I spent the last year and a half hearing every argument possible and understanding why athletes protest in the United States of America, like Colin Kaepernick,” McCain said on The View.

“If anyone just saw Vladimir Putin’s recent speech when he met with President [Joe] Biden, he’s using the propaganda that America is a craphole against us,” McCain added. “We’re having our enemies and propaganda dictators using our own propaganda against us, which in turn, turns into a national security risk.”

Though Berry’s protest happened in the U.S., McCain said she doesn’t believe that Berry would be right in doing the same while in Tokyo for the Olympic Games.

“I will die on this hill!” McCain said on The View. “That it is not appropriate or patriotic to go to a foreign country where you’re supposed to be representing America and act like its just about you. It’s not about you! It’s about all of us.”

This comes after Berry turned away from the flag while standing on the podium at the trials, held in Eugene, Oregon, while “The Star-Spangled Banner” played on Saturday, CNN reports.

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Berry spoke out saying she did not expect the anthem to play during the medal ceremony.

“I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose,” she said, per The Associated Press. “I was pissed, to be honest.”

On Monday, Berry clarified her stance via CNN affiliate Black News Channel,

“I never said that I didn’t want to go to the Olympic Games. That’s why I competed and got third and made the team,” Berry told the outlet. “I never said that I hated the country, never said that. All I said was I respect my people enough to not stand or acknowledge something that disrespects them. I love my people point blank, period.”

Berry also said she would have made a different choice had she known when the anthem was going to be played.

“The intent was we would be introduced to the crowd either before or after the singing of the national anthem,” Berry said. “If we had the option, or if I knew that I was going to be on the podium, I would have chosen something else.”

According to Susan Hazzard, USA Track and Field spokeswoman, the anthem was slated to play at 5:20 p.m. based on a previously published schedule, Newsweek reports. The music reportedly played at 5:25 p.m.

“The anthem don’t speak for me. It never has,” Berry said, per the Washington Post.

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Despite the timing, Berry used the moment to continue amplifying her voice to fight social injustices. She also proudly held up a shirt that said ‘Activist Athlete.’

“It’s really important for me and my community just to be able to represent,” Berry told the Post. “I think sports is a distraction. Sports is entertainment. But my purpose and my voice and mission is bigger than the sport.”

“So me being able to represent my communities and my people and those who have died at the hands of police brutality, those who have died to this systemic racism, I feel like that’s the important part. That’s why I’m going. And that’s why I was here today.”

Several groups, including Know Your Rights Camp, applauded the athlete’s stance.

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“We applaud Ms. Berry on her bravery to stand up against systemic racism,” they wrote on Twitter. Know Your Rights Camp was founded by Kaepernick and aims to advance the liberation and well-being of Black & brown communities and elevate the next generation of change leaders.

As theGrio previously reported, Berry is no stranger to using her athletic platform to protest injustice. She faced a 12-month probation in August 2019 for raising her fist on the podium during the Pan-American Games in Peru.

Last September, she took to Twitter to share an opinion piece she wrote for the New York Times calling for change.

“It’s time for Real Change. Athletes must continue to bring awareness to the systemic oppression Blacks have endured for centuries. We should never be silenced and punished for speaking out. Thank you @nytopinion for helping me create this powerful piece,” Berry tweeted.

theGrio’s Matthew Allen contributed to this report.

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