HomeNewsBrittney Griner-Paul Whelan Russia prison release debate misses the point

Brittney Griner-Paul Whelan Russia prison release debate misses the point

Brittney Griner’s launch from a Russian penal colony Thursday as a part of a prisoner swap for Russian arms supplier Viktor Bout was met with widespread celebration. Griner was sentenced to 9 years in jail after vape canisters and hashish oil had been found in her baggage on the airport. President Joe Biden’s announcement that Griner was safely on a airplane sure for the U.S. means the homosexual WNBA star will miraculously make it residence to her spouse and household in time for the vacations. 

Maybe not surprisingly, the basketball star’s launch was additionally met with (one other) spherical of backlash.

However maybe not surprisingly, the basketball star’s launch was additionally met with (one other) spherical of backlash. Many of those criticisms, which gained traction on-line, have as soon as once more centered on Griner’s perceived lack of patriotism. However this sort of litmus check has lengthy been rigged towards Black People. As with the tradition struggle over essential race concept, conservatives are fast to weaponize criticisms of American historical past or misbehavior in an try to police Americanness and hold Black advocacy towards racism and white supremacy at bay.  

In 2020, amid widespread Black Lives Matter protests decrying police brutality and racism, Griner acknowledged that the nationwide anthem shouldn’t be performed throughout video games and refused to be on the ground whereas it performed. Griner is an articulate athlete, and her intention was at all times clear. “I don’t imply that in any disrespect to our nation. My dad was in Vietnam and a regulation officer for 30 years,” she informed The Arizona Republic on the time. “I wished to be a cop earlier than basketball. I do have satisfaction for my nation.”

And but, we’ve tweets proliferating throughout social media accusing Griner of disrespecting the American flag (she didn’t) or kneeling throughout the nationwide anthem (additionally not true).

Per these conservatives, Brittney Griner doesn’t deserve our sympathy — and even to be free of a Russian penal colony — as a result of she has some reservations about the best way Black individuals in America have traditionally been handled. 

“So we left the opposite American who’s been there FOUR YEARS, gave Russia their arms supplier again, and all we received was an anthem kneeler that may’t pack a suitcase with out placing medicine in it?” aspiring GOP lawmaker Sam Ditzhazy wrote in a tweet liked over 14,000 times.

“I’m wondering if she’s going to respect our flag and nation now,” self-proclaimed Trump supporter Collin Rugg wrote in a tweet preferred 21,000 instances.

“You simply freed the service provider of demise in trade for somebody who cavalierly broke the legal guidelines of the nation she was visiting and gained’t even stand for the US Nationwide Anthem,” Twitter person Joe Colangelo tweeted (8,000 likes). 

The cruel reality, after all, is that America shouldn’t be, and by no means has been, an ideal nation.

The cruel reality, after all, is that America shouldn’t be, and by no means has been, an ideal nation. White People fought tooth and nail to protect slavery right here. Black individuals didn’t acquire the proper to vote with out enduring white violence. Faculties in America weren’t desegregated with out the offended mob of white individuals who gathered to jeer and spit at little Black kids. 

Consequently, Griner is only one of many athletes who’ve used their cultural standing to protest civil rights abuses. In 1996, Denver Nuggets star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to face for the nationwide anthem, as a result of he believed the flag was “a logo of oppression, of tyranny.” Invoice Russell and 4 different Boston Celtics gamers boycotted a sport in Lexington, Kentucky, after they had been refused service at their resort espresso store. Gamers’ refusal to play within the American Soccer League’s All-Star Recreation in segregated New Orleans in 1965 resulted within the sport’s being moved to Houston and finally accelerated desegregation efforts within the Huge Simple. After declaring himself a conscientious objector to navy service, Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted into the U.S. struggle in Vietnam, which value him his heavyweight titles, received him banned from boxing for 3 years and resulted in an all-white jury’s sentencing him to 5 years in jail. Public sentiment wasn’t in favor of Ali’s protest. Nonetheless, in 1971 the Supreme Court docket reversed his conviction in a unanimous vote, proving the general public’s in style opinion isn’t at all times aligned with what is going to later be considered as standing on the proper facet of historical past. 

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Civil disobedience is patriotic. Peaceable protest is patriotic. Talking out about injustice is patriotic. Arguing in any other case, mockingly, flies within the face of the Structure and the Invoice of Rights. This logic has by no means gelled with conservatives who assist free speech — however solely after they agree with it. Black People like Griner, who’ve wealth, energy and cultural clout, are accused of treason in a clear try to silence and smear them. They’re informed to be good patriots after which shouted down for exercising the fruits of that patriotism. The sport is rigged. 

In July, former President Donald Trump maligned Griner as a “probably spoiled particular person” who went to Russia “loaded up with medicine.” Does that make him an actual patriot? Or a washed-up politician who will do something to attempt to stay related? Fortunately for Griner, Biden has no time for such performative cruelty. 

There’ll almost certainly at all times be some white individuals who imagine being an American means ignoring its issues. These are the identical individuals who imagine progress is horrifying and social equality is threatening. Such outdated definitions of patriotism shame the nationwide anthem and the flag greater than any peaceable protest ever may. 

Finally, Brittney Griner is many issues. She is a Black LGBTQ American, a spouse, a daughter, an advocate, an Olympian and a world-class basketball star. However most vital, she is coming residence. 

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