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

James Carville: Right-wing ire over Brittney Griner is because she 'is not white and is not straight'
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During an appearance on CNN on Saturday afternoon, veteran Democratic strategist James Carville said that the opposition to the prisoner exchange that President Joe Biden arranged with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which "Merchant of Death" arms dealer Viktor Bout was traded for Women's National Basketball Association star Brittney Griner has significant racial undertones.

Griner was arrested in Moscow in February for traveling with vape cartridges that allegedly contained cannabis, which is illegal in Russia. She was tried, convicted, and sentenced to nine years in prison before being transferred to a penal colony. Following months of negotiations, on December 8th, Biden and Putin agreed on swapping Griner for Bout.

The backlash that immediately followed stemmed primarily from the fact that United States Marine Paul Whelan – whom Russia detained, tried, convicted, and sentenced to 16 years for espionage – still remains in Russian custody. While efforts to have him released are ongoing, numerous voices, mostly among right-wing Republicans, have erupted into a fury over Griner having been returned to the United States instead.

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

Incidentally, Whelan's twin brother David told MSNBC on Saturday that Biden had "made the right choice" in bringing Griner home.

"I think what they have done is they’ve essentially run through the resources that they thought they might be able to get the Russians to accept as a concession," said Whelan. "I mean, this is all about extortion. Paul was taken as a political prisoner and Russia is trying to extort something from the U.S."

Carville believes that the hostility toward Griner is based on bigotry and an affinity for Putin:

Yeah, so, Jim, I'm gonna say something controversial but I'm gonna preface it with something true. There are some people who legitimately say that prisoner exchanges just encourage more hostage-taking. I forty percent agree with them. But that’s a legitimate policy position. Does anyone in their right mind think that if Brittney was a blond Chi Omega from SMU that the reaction would have been the same? Of course not!

And by the way, the country that engages in the most uneven prisoner exchange is Israel. My Hebrew is not what it used to be – I'll have to get Jim Gerstein to tutor me – but look up the prisoner exchange of Gillian Shallot, who was a corporal in the IDF, alright – a rank that I hold dear to me because that was the rank I held in the United States Marine Corps – was exchanged for something like 1,027 terrorists.

Mediaite explained that Carville was referring to a "2011 agreement between Israel and Hamas — mispronouncing the name of IDF member Gilad Shalit as 'Gillian Shallot' — in which 1,027 prisoners were traded for the first safe return of a captured Israeli soldier from Hamas in 26 years."

READ MORE: 'Blood all over the walls': Trevor Reed offers a harrowing account of Russian detention center

Nonetheless, Carville added:

So I think that there are legitimate things to say, 'well maybe this is not the best idea.' But a lot of this, like a lot of things in America, are driven by the fact that this young person is not white and is not straight, and if you don’t believe that, you’re not in tune with American politics. I'm sorry. This is something that just has to be said. And another point I would make is most of the people that are criticizing this – not all – are pro-Putin, anti-Ukraine. This has exposed a big, – a big, big fault in American culture and American opinion.

Conservative host S.E. Cupp of CNN's Unfiltered nodded in agreement, having tweeted of Griner on March 8th:

It’s way worse. She’s a woman, a POC and LGBTQ. Russia will use their own awful, barbaric laws against her in their courts. We must all fight for Brittney Griner’s release.

Watch below via Mediaite or at this link.

READ MORE: Basketball star Brittney Griner now in U.S. custody following trade for Russian arms dealer

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