“The View” co-host Meghan McCain didn’t appreciate Gwen Berry silently protesting during the Olympic trials recently, calling it a “national security risk.”
Berry, a Black U.S. hammer thrower and activist, made headlines on Saturday, June 26, after turning her back to the American flag as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was being played. She also covered her head with a T-shirt that read “Activist Athlete.”
A number of the co-hosts of the daytime television show applauded Berry’s bravery, including Joy Behar, who described the 32-year-old as “patriotic.” McCain then prefaced her stance, stating that she’s heard “every argument possible” for athletes like Berry and Colin Kaepernick to protest. However, she claimed that her most prominent issue was that Berry did this on an international stage — though Berry protested in Portland, Oregon.
“If anyone just saw Vladimir Putin’s recent speech when he met with President Biden, he’s using the propaganda that America is an irredeemable craphole against us,” the conservative talk show host explained, claiming that Putin would use social justice movements like Black Lives Matter against the U.S. She added, “We’re having our enemies and propaganda dictators using our own propaganda against us, which, in turn, turns into a real national security risk.”
McCain later argued that there was a doubled standard for who could exercise their feelings for the flag. “I don’t understand why we all can’t have shared experiences in this space or have our own stories. Because for some reason, my relationship with the flag isn’t allowed anymore,” she said furiously, before sharing a story about her late father John McCain’s prison cellmate, Mike Christian. He’d sewn an American flag into his prison uniform, and McCain said prison guards later beat him.
She ended her rant declaring that she was willing to die on the hill “that it is not appropriate or patriotic to go to a foreign country where you are supposed to be representing America and act like it’s just about you!” She added, “It’s not about you! It’s about all of us!”
McCain garnered backlash from several critics for her remarks on the Tuesday, June 28, episode, including Shannon Watts. The gun violence activist took to her Twitter account, where she shared a clip of McCain speaking, writing, “I regret to inform you that Meghan McCain is sad that her “relationship with the flag” is being overshadowed by Black people peacefully protesting racist murders. #theview.”
She later added, “If Meghan McCain is truly concerned that Putin is using propaganda to prove that America is an “irredeemable craphole,” perhaps she and her husband should stop using their platforms to push the NRA’s agenda of chaos and death?”
Another user responded to Watts’ statement, commenting, “If she has a relationship with a flag, she has bigger problems to take up with a therapist. Less relating with inanimate objects, more relating with actual people. When people value symbols more than people, it renders the symbol meaningless.”
A third person shared photos of the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s capitol, writing, “Reminding @MeghanMcCain and all other Republicans, This is how your party is respecting the American flag. You better shut up.”
Berry addressed criticisms of her protesting as well, after Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Republican from Texas, said “We don’t need any more activist athletes” during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.“
During an interview with the Black News Channel, Berry denied claims that she “hated the country.” She continued, “I never said that. All I said was I respect my people enough to not stand for or acknowledge something that disrespects them. I love my people. Point blank, period.”
The Olympian, whose father is an Iraq war veteran, explained that her issue was with the lyrics of the song. “If you know your history, you know the full song of the national anthem, the third paragraph speaks to slaves in America, our blood being slain…all over the floor,” she said. “It’s disrespectful, and it does not speak for Black Americans. It’s obvious. There’s no question.”
The verse in question contains the lyrics, “their blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution,” and, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”