FanPost

One Dude's Opinion: "America First" Raises Questions, RSL Provides No Answers

I don't want to give the impression that I know everything about everything. I certainly do not. There are probably people with better, more well informed things to say. Nevertheless, I have some thoughts.

I will admit that when I first saw the unveiling of the new name of the stadium it did make me cringe just a little bit. For me it just stirred up memories of our former President's campaign, and the way that alt-right groups have used the phrase in recent history. We can certainly hold different opinions about Donald Trump and his political ideas. Personally, I'm not a fan. But I could let that slide. So my immediate reaction was mostly apathetic. Who cares if the stadium name soinds a little bit Trumpy?

On the other hand, what I did not know much about was the much longer history of the words "America First", and how they have been used/Co-opted by various racist, fascist, and other far-right organizations for a long, long time. These things weren't immediately evoked for me, but after reading a bit more about it I can see how they very easily would be for others.

I’m not prepared to provide here a comprehensive, or neutral history of the phrase, so I would welcome anyone who is interested to do their own research. Wikipedia is always a good place to start one's deep dive down the rabbit hole:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_First_(policy).

Or here's one that I found interesting, but also covered it fairly concisely:

https://www.vox.com/2018/10/22/17940964/america-first-trump-sarah-churchwell-american-dream

There are certainly different ways to interpret the phrase based on one's personal knowledge and experience. Words are tricky like that. Personally, I have been aware of America First Credit Union for much of my life, and never once gave a second's thought to the name, even throughout Trump’s MAGA years. Yet, the second the name was revealed on the stadium, sans "Credit Union", it instantly evoked something hopefully unintended.

I say "hopefully" unintended because I do not know the people at RSL or AFCU who are responsible for this decision. I want to assume that RSL is an organization committed to diversity and inclusion, as they claim to be, because that is the kind of organization I want to support. Nevertheless, I do not know them. I have to make a certain number of assumptions.

One of the assumptions I choose to lean on, in this particular opinion, is that there are smart, well educated people within these organizations. I would also imagine that AFCU, in particular, has run into these questions before, and would therefore be well aware of the troubled history of the name, and the kind of reactions it might evoke. In spite of all of this, they deliberately chose that name to adorn the face of a building that has a lot of meaning to a large, very diverse community of fans and supporters who attend RSL matches.

We should absolutely consider it a choice to use that name. The name was never a foregone conclusion. "America First Credit Union Field" might seem comically long, but it probably would make more sense from a branding perspective. After all, "America First Field" only refers to a credit union if you already know it's a credit union. It can’t serve that function to someone who might only know it as a political slogan, or even something worse. They could have also gone with AFCU Park, or The AFCU Riot, or any other thing they wanted. Nevertheless, this name was chosen from the countless possibilities that could have averted some of the negative connotations. Out of all the obvious options, they might have actually picked the worst choice.

They chose the name deliberately. My imagination keeps coming back to that choice, and it invites me to ask uncomfortable questions. It isn't a huge leap for me to wonder if somebody is using our team and it's home, deliberately, to make some kind of a point? I'm not going to speculate here what that point might be. I could imagine several, most which I wouldn't appreciate. But I digress. That’s just one of the questions that I find myself asking. I might be guilty of thinking too hard about this. But I don't think it's unfair to be asking the question. I believe that supporters of this organization who have questions about this, or anything else the organization does, deserve more respect than to be broadly dismissed as "haters", and accused of engaging in "Twitter rage".

The way RSL treats it's supporters is exhausting. We are condescended to, and patronized at nearly every turn. The new stadium name sucks. It's a bad name. It's unfortunate that for the next 15 years, whenever I walk into the stadium I will be asking questions I shouldn't have to ask when I just want to enjoy a soccer match. Maybe I'll just get over it. After all, 15 years is a long time to be wringing my hands over the stupid name of a credit union. But the part, for me, that might be harder to shake off, is the totally disrespectful way that RSL has chosen to dismiss those of us who have perfectly reasonable questions and concerns. Even more than the tone-deaf stadium naming, RSL's ham fisted defense of it speaks more loudly to how they really feel about us, and the kind of club they really are.

FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of RSL Soapbox editors or staff.