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http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/king-no-gabby-douglas-anth... Gabby Douglas is not just a world-class gymnast and Olympic gold medalist — she is my 7-year-old daughter Savannah's full-time hero. She worships the ground Gabby Douglas walks on. In our house, Savannah speaks of "Gabby" by first name only, like she's a member of the family. Gabby's coming to Brooklyn this November, and we're already talking about it like it's next week.
When Gabby Douglas, who comes from a military family, stood at attention last week during the national anthem as her team won gold, my family watched with great pride. We actually didn't even notice that she didn't have her hand over her heart. We were just excited that the Final Five were winners once again, donned in red, white, and blue. The American flag was raised high. It was a patriotic moment.
I don't put my hand on my heart during the National Anthem, either. I never have. I didn't even know that was "a thing," actually.
When the conservative-outrage machine roared back at how "disrespectful" Gabby Douglas was, I was disgusted. People harassed her by the thousands on social media and it really did seem to steal her joy from the Olympics altogether. Even her mother said the bullying had brought them both to "many tears."
We're talking about a 4-foot-11, 20-year-old, three-time Olympic gold medalist.
The difference, as you will soon see, is that she's a black 4-foot-11, 20-year-old, three-time Olympic gold medalist. Race made all the difference.
Just a few days after Gabby was roundly blasted for not putting her hand over heart during the national anthem, two burly white Americans did the exact same thing at their own medal ceremony.
Shot put athletes Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs, gold and silver medalists respectively, both failed to put their hands over their hearts as the American flag was raised and the national anthem was performed.
No conservative outrage followed. Nobody questioned their patriotism. The moment was nationally televised. Both men had their personal stories told repeatedly told during primetime, but when they stood at attention as Gabby Douglas did, their names didn't trend on Twitter. The bullies were now silent.
As I write this story, pole vaulter Sam Kendricks' national-anthem moment is a top trending moment on Facebook. Kendricks, a 2nd Lt. in the Army Reserves, was running in a full sprint to perform his vault when he heard the national anthem playing. He came to a screeching halt, searched for the flag, and stood at attention, with his hands at his side, until it was over. It was a moving moment.
The video now has nearly 17 million times and Kendricks is being hailed as a patriotic hero. Nobody's questioning the obvious fact that he, too, failed to put his hand over his heart.
Of course, it doesn't really matter to conservatives that Crouser, Kovacs, or Kendricks failed to put their hands over their hearts. They are white men. Their patriotism is in their blood. In fact, their blood might even be red, white, and blue. They don't need to show the world they love America by putting their hands over their hearts, it's simply assumed to be the case.
Gabby, on the other hand, younger than them all, got no such benefit of the doubt despite her excellent and dedicated service to our country. She's won more gold medals than those three combined, but that seemed to mean next to nothing when she failed to put her hand over her heart. She is, after all, a black woman, and conservatives clearly started her off in a patriotic deficit she could never quite get out of.