Libertarian slams MAGA Republicans for parroting 'Kremlin talking points' on Brittney Griner’s release

Libertarian slams MAGA Republicans for parroting 'Kremlin talking points' on Brittney Griner’s release
Brittney Griner in 2019 (Wikimedia Commons)

Basketball star Brittney Griner is back in the United States after her December 8 release from a Russian prison. Griner, who spent almost 10 months imprisoned in Russia, was serving a nine-year sentence on a drug smuggling charge but was released as part of a prisoner exchange; the United States agreed to release Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner’s release.

Civil libertarians all over the world described Griner’s arrest and imprisonment as politically motivated, as it came during a time of considerable tensions between the United States and Russia. On February 17, Griner was detained after Russian customs officials found less than a gram of medically prescribed hash oil in her luggage. And in August, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Griner’s release was applauded by countless civil libertarians and critics of the War on Drugs. But a long list of MAGA Republicans, on the other hand, are furious that the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) player was released. And libertarian/conservative journalist Cathy Young vehemently calls them out in a biting article published by The Bulwark on December 16.

READ MORE:James Carville: Right-wing ire over Brittney Griner is because she 'is not white and is not straight'

“Since just about everything is potential fodder for culture wars these days,” Young argues, “it’s no surprise that the return to the United States of basketball player Brittney Griner, detained in Russia on a drug charge earlier this year, turned into another such skirmish. What is notable, though, is the extent to which American far-right punditry has been almost literally reciting Kremlin propaganda talking points — and putting identity politics over basic solidarity with a fellow American.”

Young describes Griner as a former “hostage” of the Kremlin.

“Bringing American hostages home — and there is little doubt that Griner, arrested days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was being held hostage — is surely a cause for patriotic celebration,” Young writes. “But many commentators on the right touted the trade as evidence that the Biden Administration was Woke Central: Griner is Black and gay — gay-married, even! — and spoke out against the American anthem being played at WNBA games during the summer 2020 racial justice protests. That two other Americans, ex-Marine Paul Whelan and history teacher Mark Fogel, still remain in Russian prisons — the former on spying charges, the latter in a marijuana-possession case very similar to Griner’s — became further evidence of wokeness run amok, or a decision based on ‘DEI’ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) policies.”

Young cites specific examples of anti-Griner comments from the far right. On December 8, Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted, “The Biden Admin was apparently worried that their DEI score would go down if they freed an American Marine.” And Matt Walsh, that same day, tweeted, “Unfortunately Marc Fogel and Paul Whelan made the mistake of being white men. The rules of intersectionality dictate that the black woman gets freed first. That's one of the primary factors driving this, whether we want to admit it out loud or not.”

READ MORE: Tucker Carlson pushes bizarre, racist theory about Britney Griner’s release from a Russian prison

Newsmax’s Benny Johnson said of Griner and the Biden Administration, “They knew they had to appeal (to) the left-wing, woke wing of their party. They wouldn’t allow a Black woman, lesbian woman, drug addict, America-hating woke, to be kept in prison in Russia. One of ours. Not the Marine. Not the person who served this country. No, no. One of ours. Somebody on the identity-politics spectrum who’s notched every single victory that you could ever hope for inside of the vector of woke politics.”

Young points out that similar rhetoric has been coming from the Russian media. For example, RT’s Margarita Simonyan, during an appearance on Russia’s TV-1 program “Evening with Vladimir Solovyov,” commented, “I found it very amusing, though not surprising, that Bout was finally traded for Griner, not Whelan…. (Whelan) is a hero, a decorated Marine covered in medals. He only has one — no, two — no, three, problems. First problem: He’s white. Second problem: He’s a man. Third problem: It seems he’s hetero. This is something that just can’t be forgiven these days…. American voters were given a choice: A hero who suffered in the service of his country…. or a black lesbian hooked on drugs who suffered for a vape with hash.”

Young also notes that in the prisoner exchange, the Biden Administration didn’t choose Griner over the other American prisoners being held in Russia; the Kremlin’s offer was “Griner or no one” — a fact that “right-wing propagandists in the United States” overlooked when they “recycled Kremlin talking points.”

“Also not mentioned: Trevor Reed, another former U.S. Marine and one-time Russian prisoner who happens to be white, male, and heterosexual,” Young writes. “Despite these three strikes, Reed — detained in Moscow in 2019 on probably bogus charges of assault on two police officers — was freed in late April in a swap for Russian pilot and convicted drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko, a highly inconvenient fact for the ‘woke points’ narrative…. For the overwhelming majority, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan are both Americans. You’d think the ‘All Lives Matter’ gang could grasp that.”

READ MORE: Adam Schiff warns Americans risk being captured and 'used as a political chip' in Iran, North Korea, Russia

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ }}
@2022 - AlterNet Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. - "Poynter" fonts provided by