My in-laws rented a place in the mountains and this morning I went out to breakfast with some and got in a fight with One of Them about a fact I probably never should have admitted, I am pulling for the Japanese against the American women this afternoon in the World Cup final.
One of Them (OOT) said Well I never mix politics and sports.
I do, I said, and we started in to argue, and I switched into that withering adversarial style my wife can't stand in me (she wasn't at breakfast). What about South Africa during apartheid, would you have rooted for them EVER? And what about the United States during the Vietnam period, when we were going around invading countries and causing incredible suffering, who could be for the United States? Well it's no different now, when we're in 3 or 4 countries we shouldn't be in and causing suffering. Who wants the U.S. to win under such circumstances?
OOT said OOT always supports "my country," OOT learned in law school to separate logic and feeling, it's not the athlete's fault if her country is invading other countries. Did you hear the American coach? Those girls have trained so so hard.
So have the other teams, I said.
The number of people making these dreadful decisions is so small, OOT said; how can you hold that against the people?
But we do all the time, and sometimes maybe we should.
A guy who is leaving construction was selling off all his tools outside the breakfast joint, and in a burst of diplomacy I went out to buy some tools, but the argument began afresh back at the house in the ferns. I found I was in the minority. Even the youth are for the US women, in spite of Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan (let's not talk about Libya). My wife was no help. "I guess I'm for the Americans because of what the Japanese did to us in World War II. Isn't sports about officially being allowed to go with your prejudices." I said I had to find a Japanese flag, and walked away.
I want American power to subside, I want America tamed. I want America taken down a peg. All I care about is the Middle East, and in the Middle East we are still the only game in town. We might be able to muscle the Palestinian Authority on the U.N. statehood resolution on that basis-- because we are the only game in town. I want that era to end, and I am afraid if the American women win it will give more oxygen to American hubris, it will sustain this awful chapter in the Middle East to the detriment of millions of Arabs and Muslims.
And Abby Wambach is cool.