On Friday, the U.S. women’s national soccer team opened the 2023 Women’s World Cup in controversial fashion. Prior to their 3-0 victory over Vietnam, the majority of U.S. players neither sang nor placed hands over their hearts during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Conservative commentator Megyn Kelly was not impressed. On Monday’s episode of “The Megyn Kelly Show” on YouTube, Kelly and two of her guests expressed both outrage and dismay. The players’ failure to show any outward sign of respect angered Kelly more than anything. “That was a bridge too far. They couldn’t be bothered to actually place their hand on their heart,” she said. The latest controversy comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the U.S. women’s soccer team’s recent history. Longtime player Megan Rapinoe, for instance, has sullied the team’s reputation with her frequent ultra-woke comments and behavior. In fact, one former player recalled that Rapinoe would “almost bully players into kneeling” for the national anthem. Rapinoe holds a roster spot on the current World Cup team but plans to retire soon. She did not start the first game and thus had no chance to show disrespect for the anthem. Of the 11 players who did start, only five held a hand over their hearts, and only three sang along with the anthem. Meanwhile, all 11 Vietnamese players sang their country’s national anthem and placed hands over their hearts. To illustrate the contrast, Kelly played a clip of the Vietnamese players singing and appearing respectful. The segment can be seen here: Of course, the Vietnamese players live in a communist country. If they fail to demonstrate appropriate patriotism, they risk having family members rounded up and shot to death. In fact, the entire scene reminded me of the book, “Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China” (1991). Author Jung Chang, who grew up in Mao Zedong’s China during the Cultural Revolution, described her reaction upon learning of Mao’s death in 1976. Chang and others had lined up in a school courtyard when the loudspeaker broadcast the news. Although she felt great relief at the tyrant’s demise, Chang placed her head on the shoulder of the girl in front of her and pretended to sob. Totalitarian regimes demand such theater, much the way Rapinoe demanded that her teammates kneel. No one demands that players sing or hold hands over their hearts. We simply mourn the fact that they refuse to do so because we know the reason for it. Emily Jashinsky, culture editor at The Federalist, joined Kelly’s show and summarized things beautifully. In one of the more thoughtful observations anyone has ever made on the subject, Jashinsky contrasted the players’ spiteful and narcissistic behavior with the dignified approach of a 19th-century American legend. “If you look at, for instance, what Frederick Douglass…what he had to say about the Fourth of July, even if you’re upset with the country, even if you think the country isn’t living up to its potential, you can still be patriotic,” Jashinsky said. “But we have this absurd binary that is overly simplistic that says you either absolutely hate America or you love America and there’s nothing in between,” she added. Eliana Johnson, editor in chief at the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication in the nation’s capital, also joined Kelly’s show. Johnson noted that WBNA player Brittney Griner decided to stand for the national anthem after returning home from a lengthy detainment in Russia. “It’s a really sad reflection of the kind of education that our young people are getting today that they actually do have to experience despotism in order to have a basic appreciation of how wonderful our country is,” Johnson said. A better education would begin with the kind of history Jashinsky cited. On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered his famous oration, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” An escaped slave himself, Douglass nonetheless recognized America’s proslavery regime of the time as hostile to the nation’s Founding principles. In one glittering passage, Douglass described the U.S. Constitution as a “GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT.” (Uppercase in the original.) A former slave recognized America at its best, but privileged athletes do not. Sadly, the women’s soccer players no doubt believe that they stand for something. One wonders how Rapinoe and others would react if they ever realized that they actually stand with the political theater of communist tyrants … and their own abysmal ignorance. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.