First there was Bryant Gumbel. But has one of our own Olympic athletes also politicized this installment of the Winter Games? In an NBC profile of U.S. champion figure skater Johnny Weir this past week, the flamboyant athlete is shown lying on a couch wearing a red sweatjacket with the decoration of CCCP, the Cyrillic Russian initials of the old USSR [link to video at gawker.com, see note below]. Yes, we have now seen the day when an Olympic athlete, representing the United States, is seen casually wearing a sweatjacket symbolizing the old Soviet Union.
Can it get worse than this? Well, Weir performed at practices in Italy wearing the CCCP jacket. Yikes. I understand "eccentric," but this?
Weir has responded to remarks about his CCCP jacket by saying he's an admirer of "Russian culture" and wearing the jacket is "the same as someone wearing a Madonna T-shirt." Libertarian blogger KipEsquire has responded (emphasis mine), "Good grief, was the Cold War really so long ago? Do we really need to have a remedial history and geography lesson? ... To wear 'CCCP' is not a celebration of 'Russian culture,' but an endorsement of the most brutal, most murderous regime ever to reign on Earth."
In addition, the taped piece also captured Weir saying the following:
"I know that a lot of people, especially the more Republican-style people, are very afraid of what I mean to the sport and what I’m going to say, what kind of revolutionary, crazy things are going to come out of my mouth. And good for them. They should be scared."
When Weir says "revolutionary," I hope he doesn't mean something along the lines of Fidel Castro or Vladamir Lenin. In that case, count me among those who might be "afraid" and "scared."
I might also become "afraid" if I walk down the aisle of my local grocery store some day and find this guy on the cover of a Wheaties box with the letters CCCP staring at me.
[Note on the video at gawker.com: The video contains a few on-screen "Pop-up" commentaries in pink writing. These did not air on NBC.]