Oh say, can you see (into a heart)? Americans vilify Brittney Griner
Gerry Goldstein ([email protected]), a monthly contributor, is a retired Providence Journal editor and columnist.
I served in the US Army, albeit in peacetime when the only shots that reached me were poured into the saloons outside of Fort Dix, New Jersey.
I have never failed to vote in a general election and have worn many poppies on Memorial Day.
The stars and stripes wave daily atop a flagpole outside my front door.
But I do not agree that it is necessary to invoke the national anthem before sporting events. To me, this ritual – absent from many other types of town hall meetings – is an exercise in group “patriotism” that may or may not capture the essence of the word.
It’s just an opinion, but go ahead and sue me. Or, better yet, send me to prison for 10 years.
The latter seems preferred by tens of thousands of Americans. They recently claimed on Facebook that basketball star Brittney Griner be thrown into a Russian penal colony for a decade.
Some were put off by the small amount of cannabis oil, illegal in Russia, which prompted his arrest at a Moscow airport. Her legal team said she used it for gambling pain relief and accidentally packed it.
But most of the venom came from her asking the Women’s National Basketball Association to stop playing the anthem before games — her way of protesting racism.
I see no American ideal in the ruthless reaction of this young woman, alone in a country ruled by a soulless despot. The brutal howls on social media are blood-curdling.
Let Facebook, in many ways entertaining and useful, channel a torrent of dogmatic and cruel intolerance.
Those who posted rants only know the Griner they see: 6-foot-9, outspoken, black, gay, and heavily tattooed. Anything deeper seems lost in the vitriol on the anthem.
Here is a sampling of the thinking of those who profess love for our freedoms:
• She hasn’t sung the national anthem in her matches and now she wants Old Glory’s help. Ha.
• Leave it there. She respects neither the United States, nor the anthem, nor the flag. But now she wants help. NO SORRY KEEP IT IN RUSSIA.
• Was it the woman who said NOT to play the national anthem at her games? Uh… LEAVE IT HERE!
• It’s funny that she doesn’t want the national anthem to be played before WNBA games and now she’s crying to come back. Nah, do your time.
• She disrespected our country that I fought for. I hope she enjoys the labor camp.
• Enjoy your new home for the next 10 years!!!
• They should play the US national anthem in his cell every day. A knee will be very painful because of the concrete floor.
No need to insist further on the obvious. Last time I checked, the site had attracted 177,000 comments. In my sampling, most reflected those above.
They are scrutinized in vain for a hint of compassion; an ounce of mercy and understanding; an iota of benevolence which church people might call Christian charity. My Jewish brothers would call this the practice of tikkun olam – healing the wounds of our world.
Except for her ability with a basketball, we know little about Brittney Griner or what lies in her heart. But when it comes to hearts, we all have one. Before passing judgment on his, we would do well to contemplate the harshness of ours.