That Didn't Take Long: #BlackLivesMatter Goes to the Olympics

When everything is about race, nothing is about race.  The left plays the race card as often as it plays the Nazi or gender card, its hackneyed alternative to any substantive discussion about issues and policy.  It's much like those pull-string dolls: pull the string of a liberal and hear about race, gender, skin color, or immigration status.  And not much else.

Race became the National Football League theme this year, as a bunch of privileged young athletes, being paid millions of dollars for playing a game, supported by an organization worth $75 billion, found it necessary to take a knee against the National Anthem.  There they were, protesting the very country leaving them on the winning end of such income inequality.

The NFL season, thankfully, is in our rearview mirror for the next six months.  Ahead is the Winter Olympics.  Will the Olympic motto of "Faster, Higher, Stronger" be replaced by "Skin color and gender – darker and more confused"?

Rick Moran, on these pages, pointed out how the diversity police have infected the Olympic games, with unnecessary commentary on the skin color and sex orientation of athletes.  Hopefully, the fastest and strongest athletes are at the games, regardless of identity factors, but we shall see if the virtue-signaling NBC commentators can resist the siren song of identity politics – much as the NFL has done.

Even before the opening ceremony, racism has popped up, perhaps as a new sport.  America's flag-bearer is determined by a vote of sports federations.  The two finalists were speed skater Shani Davis, a five-time Olympian with two gold and two silver medals, and Erin Hamlin, a four-time Olympian with one bronze medal.  The vote was a tie.

Perhaps in hindsight, the U.S. should have had two flag-bearers, sharing the honor of carrying the Stars and Stripes.  But in the tradition of sport, a winner needed to be chosen.  As this wasn't a sporting competition, no overtime or playoff was needed.  Instead, we had the age-old means of breaking a tie: the coin toss.  Hamlin won.

Simple enough, right?  Not so fast.  Davis is black, and Hamlin is white.  Just like at the Emmy or Grammy awards, identity politics is thrust into the limelight.  And a whiff of racism is in the air.

Davis tweeted below.  He claims that the U.S. Olympic team acted "dishonorably" by tossing a coin to break the tie vote.  And he threw in the #BlackHistoryMonth2018 hashtag, as if the coin toss were somehow racist.

He promises to wait 'til 2022.  Good for him.  Hopefully, he has a successful Olympics in 2018 and makes the 2022 team and is then voted to carry the U.S. flag.  Unfortunately, the flag-bearer vote is not a speed skating event with photo finishes that can determine a winner by a hundredth of a second.  In the rare event where there is a tie, two medals are awarded.  That would have been the wiser choice for the Olympic committee rather than opening a can of worms before the games even began.

Davis boycotted the opening ceremonies.  A spokesman said, "Shani won't march in the parade.  It was never part of his plans.  He is fully focused on his first race and is concentrating on that."  Nice try.  If it wasn't part of his plans, he could have declined the nomination for flag-carrier.

It's much like the spate of resignations from the FBI and DOJ as the swamp-dwellers suddenly want to "spend more time with the family" ahead of further memo releases and the upcoming OIG report.

Big media were quick to pile on, as identity politics is a favorite topic, not far behind Trump-Russia collusion.  The Chicago Tribune headline: "Coin toss mirrors black experience beyond Olympics."  And Time: "Shani Davis Was Right to Be Mad about Getting Snubbed as Team USA Flag Bearer."

And never far behind such a controversy is one of Rush Limbaugh's "Justice Brothers," the Rev. Jesse Jackson.  The other half of the duo, the Rev. Al Sharpton, must be asleep.  Otherwise, he would be out with his bullhorn, leading a protest somewhere.

The first good reverend tweeted out his displeasure, saying such a distinction "should never be determined by a flip of a coin."  Jackson demanded a "more appropriate system to make such a significant determination."

Such as?  Rock, paper, scissors?  Re-voting until the desired outcome is achieved, à la Al Franken's first Senate race in Minnesota?  A "heads I win, tails you lose" coin toss?

How unfortunate for the two involved athletes.  One now feeling guilty and one feeling snubbed.  All over a coin toss.  Not the best way to be at your mental peak when competing against the best athletes in the world.  And easily solved with two flag-bearers, although even that might have raised the ire of some race-hustlers.  Who carried the flag when, and for how long?

This is also an unfortunate consequence of identity politics.  When the media and the left make everything about race, this type of incident is the logical result.  Rather than following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s admonition to judge people by the content of their character (or athletic prowess), not by the color of their skin, we are doing the opposite.  With predictable results.

Let's hope the rest of the Olympic games focus on sport, not race and gender.  But knowing NBC and the rest of the media, the flag-bearer controversy is likely to be the first of many.

Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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