Few know that I am the founding Vice President of the Wyoming Division of the United States Fencing Association now generally known as USA Fencing. Not only is it not on the national sports radar, it’s hiding under the coffee cup of the radar operator. It’s unknown not because I am in any way ashamed of my association with fencing, but because in America, fencing is not a popular sport. Just about the only time Americans have the opportunity to see it on TV is during the Summer Olympics, and then, only in seconds-long clips between more popular events.
Part of the problem is the contemporary sport itself. Two people, dressed alike, whose faces and expressions are covered by masks, leap at each other at lightning speed, a point is awarded, and they separate and do it again. The audience is left wondering: “what just happened?!” It’s not at all like movie swordsmanship.
Unlike Europe, America has never had a fencing standard. Fencing has never been part of the broader American culture. For centuries, Europeans have had “schools” of fencing, nationalistic methods, carefully written down and taught, passed down from fencing master to fencing master over the years. The language of contemporary sport fencing is French. During colonial days, some Americans carried the small sword, but it was almost entirely a fashion statement for the upper class. Most American duels, until dueling was banned, used the pistol.
American fencers have always been aware that their sport inspires little public interest. Financial support has always been hard to come by, and virtually all fencers and clubs—Salles—are entirely self- supporting. Local bouts and tournaments virtually always take place in school gymnasiums provided for free, the strips—piste—on which fencers move laid down with masking tape and removed thereafter.
That’s why the latest uninformed, narcissistic virtue signaling is so annoying, not only to all patriotic Americans, but particularly to fencers, as Fox News reports:
A member of the U.S. men’s fencing team staged a national anthem protest at the Pan American Games, saying, ‘We must call for change.’
Race Imboden and two teammates were winners of gold in a team foil competition at the games in Lima, Peru, Friday and he took a knee on the podium at the medal ceremony.
He won the gold with teammates Gerek Meinhardt and Nick Itkin, both of whom stood for the anthem.
‘We must call for change,’ Imboden said afterward on Twitter. ‘This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze.
A great many Americans are not proud of Imboden, who they have no reason to believe an authority on any issue other than fencing. Americans have historically embraced the tradition of not sliming America, particularly when on foreign soil, and absolutely not when ostensibly representing America. But recently…?
Gee, I wonder why they have that rule?
I can think of one particularly appropriate consequence: forfeiture of the privilege of ever again representing a country whose “shortcomings” gave Imboden license to imagine he could spit on Americans and dishonor the American flag and national anthem..
I’ll not deal with issues of gun control and immigration. I’ve dealt with them extensively in other articles, and surely will in the future. However, let’s allow the invaluable Victor Davis Hanson, writing at American Greatness, to examine the contemporary reality of race and “white supremacy:
The answer to why America appears attractive to newcomers is obvious: what global elites say and what non-elites do are two quite different things.
Certainly, one can damn in the abstract (whether for careerist purposes or from psychological angst) what one desires in the concrete. For all her expressed disappointment in America, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) may well have violated U.S. tax and perhaps immigration law in an allegedly felonious effort to facilitate her brother’sentry into America—a fact that resonates far more than her often tired whines about her dissatisfaction with her adopted country.
Imboden would seem to be a fellow traveler of Omar.
In sum, millions over the last few decades would have avoided or been barred from entering the United States, as they have avoided immigrating into an exclusionary but prosperous China or Japan—had they believed America was a racist country dominated by overweening white privilege. Throughout history white supremacist societies—or any other supposedly racially defined nation—have not adopted de facto or de jure immigration policies that welcome immigrants who are 80-90 percent of a different race or ethnic background.
Why indeed would so many non-white people do virtually anything to come to America, to become Americans, with all it’s “shortcomings” if America is riven with racism and white supremacy? Hanson once again addresses the reality of “white supremacy:
Today, alt-rightist Richard Spencer sees himself as a successor to white supremacists of the past. But he has no real national following, opposes Donald Trump, and finds his support mostly only on obscure websites and fringe survivalist groups that appeal to the unwell. True white supremacists are always outnumbered by their opponents at rallies, and have no creed that attracts any but the unhinged.
In contrast, the well-known anti-Semites and unapologetic racists of our media age are provocateurs like Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, and Rev. Jerimiah Wright. They in varying degrees have been sought out by progressive politicians—for support, endorsements and photo-ops.
In the present-day America of 2019 anti-Semitism usually emanates from people like “the squad” or the unapologetic racial bigotry of an Al Sharpton, prominent rappers, or Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Who has had more influence on a president—Reverend Jeremiah Wright or Richard Spencer?
There is racism in America, and Hanson has well described its most numerous and vile practitioners.
The one reason there are so many fake Jussie Smolletts or Covington psychodramas or Duke Lacrosse constructs or notions like microaggressions—or careers such as those of the clownish Al Sharpton (the anti-Semite, past purveyor of hatred, and tax-dodging racist)—is that ubiquitous white supremacy has largely become a thing of the past.
Perhaps Imboden is well intentioned. Perhaps he was merely caught up in the all too common ill-informed passion of youth. Perhaps he’s trying to impress a girl. Perhaps he is just a narcissistic jerk.
Racism in America, including white supremacy, is all but dead, with the exception of the miscreants Hanson identified. Such people are few in number, and have no political or cultural influence. They are justly regarded as social pariahs by all decent Americans of any race.
Imboden’s “protest” is particularly harmful to his sport. The NFL lost substantial patronage when similarly arrogant athletes decided to call attention to their highly refined sense of social justice over issues they likely knew little or nothing about. But the NFL can afford to lose patrons. It’s still a billion dollar industry, and the very people complaining about the nation and people that make that industry profitable are athletes making salaries of which most Americans can only dream. This does not tend to make normal Americans say: “Golly! Since that grossly overpaid, dim witted athlete took a knee, I must be intellectually and morally inferior to him, and I’d better stop being a racist too!”
For sports like fencing, sports about which most people have never heard—“you mean they have that sword fighting stuff around here? Really?”—pissing off potential patrons and fans is not commonly thought a good thing. Showing callous disrespect for the flag and the nation—I don’t share Mr. Jones’ respect for Imboden’s little snit fit—is also something that does not reflect well on “USA Fencing.”
OK, OK, I couldn’t resist: as to guns and immigration, normal Americans respect the Constitution and the rule of law. The Bill of Rights says what it means and means what it says. Immigration? Enforce the law. If you don’t like the law, change it, but don’t give a hard time to the members of the executive branch—that’s the President and law enforcement—who are sworn to enforce the law, and who risk their lives for ingrates like Imboden.
Just a bit of free, useful advice from a hard-used American fencer.