Anti-Americanism in L.A.
|For American sports, February
[of 1998] was the best of months and the worst of months. In Nagano, 15-year-old
Tara Lipinski skated into immortality by taking an Olympic gold medal away
from America's Queen of the Ice Michelle Kwan. Tiny Tara became the youngest
ever to win the gold, besting by two months the great Sonja Henie.
Equally moving was the reception of the U.S. wrestling team in what one might have expected to be hostile territory, Iran.
When U.S. athletes arrived, they were, said one, "treated like kings." While the Americans won almost all their matches, the Iranian crowd applauded their successes. So, in a spontaneous gesture of gratitude and friendship, one U.S. wrestler came out of the dugout and waved a tiny Iranian flag. The crowd went wild with cheers of appreciation. When he did it a second time, they took the roof off.
Contrast that grace and civility with what happened to the U.S. soccer team in its 1-0 Gold Cup loss to Mexico. As the defeated U.S. team left the stadium the night of Feb. 15, it was showered with water bombs, beer, bottles and garbage -- in Los Angeles.
What happened in the Coliseum should have been the subject of national debate. Here is the play-by-play, as described by The Washington Post's Steven Goff and the Los Angeles Times' John Glionna and Bill Plaschke.
The L.A. Coliseum, which holds 91,235, was packed as the U.S. team took the field with a six-game winning streak. But when the American national anthem began, whistles, horns, hooting and booing drowned it out. Said U.S. midfielder Preki Radosavlievic: "It's very disappointing. They were whistling during the national anthem. You must respect the national anthem."
Pat Orland had brought her 10-year-old son and a friend to cheer the U.S. team. They could not even hear the anthem. "It's very strange ... It feels like I'm in a foreign country."
Paul Stewart and a few friends had unfurled Old Glory. Fruit and cups of beer rained down on them and the Stars and Stripes. "Something's wrong when I can't raise an American flag in my own country," said Stewart, as a lemon whipped past his ear.
Almost the entire stadium was rooting for Mexico and hooting the American team. "We were treated better when we played down there (in Mexico City)," said Radosavlievic. Kyle Dane told fellow fans of the Americans: "Once you start shouting, 'USA! USA!' expect to get stuff thrown at you and lots of angry stares." One U.S. player setting up for a corner kick was hit with a water balloon.
Plaschke was warned to get away from the tunnel through which the defeated U.S. team would exit. He stayed. As the U.S. team ran off, he wrote, "It was raining ... disrespect. Raining anger. Raining what could easily be interpreted as hatred ... God Bless America. Land where American soccer players, playing a game for their country in their country, are treated like the enemy."
As U.S. athletes fled, "from out of the stands soared plastic bottles filled with water, crashing on the U.S. players' heads ... an avalanche of water- and beer-filled cups, a lemon, a giant empty box, more water, more bottles. The garbage covered the U.S. team like an ugly blanket. It was accompanied by a chorus of words screamed in Spanish."
Asks Plaschke: "Why would about 91,000 of the 91,235 fans in the Coliseum on Sunday night act as though they hated the United States? Why would U.S. citizens and residents blow horns and boo loudly enough to drown out the U.S. national anthem? Why would those who attend U.S. schools and receive U.S. medical care feel it necessary to pelt any U.S. player running near the stands with water and beer?"
What took place in the L.A. Coliseum was a two-hour orgy of anti-Americanism, an explosion of hatred against the United States.
Something is happening to this country. As U.S. goalie Kasey Keller said of the mob, "You live in America. Why don't you become an American?" "When do Mexican-Americans begin giving more weight to the American part?" asks Plaschke. "Or will they ever?"
Good question; and it is time for "open-borders conservatives" to wake up and smell the coffee. The Melting Pot is freezing over.
In May of 1915, Woodrow Wilson spoke to thousands of foreign born who had become naturalized U.S. citizens: "A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has not yet become an American," said Wilson, "and the man who goes among you to trade upon your nationality is no worthy son to live under the Stars and Stripes." Perhaps that generation knew more about how to preserve a nation than do we.
March 5, 1998