The case of Brittney Griner is absolutely fascinating.
It is so pregnant with debatable conversation starters, you basically don’t need to talk about anything else at your next get together.
Try it. If you find yourself around a few friends who like friendly debate and have a general idea of what is happening in the world, watch how far the conversation could go.
The Questionable Brittney Griner Exchange
For the very uninitiated, Brittney Griner is a WNBA player who was recently arrested and charged in Russia for a drug offense, and the United States government successfully negotiated a prisoner swap with her and Viktor Bout, a notorious weapons dealer.
There are tons of relevant details here, but this is about a quick of a summary as possible.
OK, you want to get that conversation going. Here are a few questions I suggest going over along the way:
Is it ethical to allow a dangerous criminal to be freed under any circumstances?
How much should the US government interfere with the criminal proceedings of another sovereign nation?
Is it ethical to imprison someone for marijuana possession? Who gets to make that decision? Does it matter if the punishment is far greater than one most might find acceptable?
Is it fair that Griner was released while Paul Whelan remains in a Russian prison? Should America have worked harder to make sure both were released?
Why was she in Russia in the first place? Should the WNBA pay its players more? Was it a good idea to go to Russia during its invasion of another nation?
Should the US, when making these decisions, factor in the attitudes and behaviors of Griner? Meaning, she was among the many athletes who kneeled during the national anthem in protest for racial injustice. Does this make her “un-American”? And if so, does the country “owe” anything to her at all?
All of these questions and so many more could fill your table with endless discussion!
Where Most Seem to Agree
And listening to commentary on the topic is very intriguing. Everyone has an opinion and I’m really appreciating the depth of discussion.
A few things everyone seems to agree on (as far as I could tell):
- Viktor Bout is a very bad person, and it would certainly be better for him to remain in prison.
- Whereas Griner was indeed guilty, and a sovereign nation has the right to its own laws and how to enforce them, this “offense” was clearly trumped up with a nasty agenda from the Russian government.
- If an American finds themselves in such a situation, it’s best we work to get them home.
But We’re Not a Nation of Agreers
But the agreements seem to end there.
I’d like to focus on one commentary I recently listened to, that of Ben Shapiro.
First of all, I’d like to say that I like Ben. I stopped listening to him a while ago, not because he’s not entertaining or because I disagree with a lot of what he says. I stopped listening because it gave me negative vibes. The show is basically just a rant against anything and everything left wing and liberal. It’s not a mood I need seeping into my subconscious. I’ve got enough to worry about in life. I don’t need to be angrier or more cynical.
In any case, he repeatedly stated that he’s happy that Brittney Griner is home. The US set it as a goal to stand in the face of Russia’s ridiculous posturing, in order to get back one of its own.
That’s not the problem.
The problem is the amount of hype surrounding this particular situation. The intense efforts made for Griner, and the complete lack of efforts for many others who, arguably, have suffered far more, haven’t actually committed the crimes they are accused of, and are more patriotic to the country seeking their freedom.
Why Brittney Griner?
The exchange wasn’t made because Griner deserved this more than others. Rather, this was done because she was a woman. It was done because she’s black. It was done because she is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. And it was done because she is well known as an athlete who took the knee, a la Colin Kaepernick.
We don’t fight to retrieve patriots.
Rather, we bend over backwards for the ones who will get the most attention, and achieve the most salient political goals. Brittney Griner came home because someone thought this was better for advancing an agenda.
Now, it’s not that Ben doesn’t have a point.
But I think something vital needs to be said here.
Black people were discriminated against in the United States for centuries. Women have gotten the short end of the stick for nearly as long. And LGBTQ+ discrimination is one of the few prejudices I’ve witnessed intensely during my lifetime.
In addition, the United States, as a country and a concept, celebrates diversity of thought and opinion. Arguably it’s the country’s most appealing feature, and absent this, it would cease to have a real reason to exist.
Britnney Griner Had To Come Home
All of this is the reason why Brittney Griner specifically had to come home.
She was returned to the States because she is black. We are no longer a nation that turns its back on the black folk living among us. We are all equals. Despite Dave Chappelle’s hysterical routine about black hostages, we are a nation finally ready to state that we are all one.
Brittney Griner had to be reunited with her family because she’s a woman. Everyone is on equal footing in the US.
Brittney Griner had to be returned to the safe soil of the United States of America because she is gay. We are no longer a country that is comfortable saying some of its people are dispensable while others remain important.
And Brittney Griner had to be negotiated for because she questions the morality and sanctity of her home country. We are a nation of wildly differing ideas, and despite the fact that we bicker quite a lot, everyone has the right to believe what they want. All citizens of this incredible nation have the freedom to choose to kneel during the anthem without fear they will be a societal outcast.
We might believe drastically different things, but at the end of the day, we are all brethren. We are on the same side.
And that demonstration of universal solidarity is just about the most important thing we can do.
We don’t just fight for the rights of white, male, straight, ruggedly patriotic Americans. We fight for all Americans!We might believe drastically different things, but at the end of the day, we are all brethren. We are on the same side. Click To Tweet