By Simon Conway
As we enter this Thanksgiving Week, I find myself thinking about WNBA star Brittney Griner who is now in a penal colony in Western Russia.
One of the things a lot of us will give thanks for this week, will be that we live in the greatest country on earth. That is certainly true and is in fact our super power!
But we need to live that truth and not just say the words. Many times I have said on the air and in other places, that I may hate the things you are saying, but I will defend with my life your right to say them. Brittney Griner turned her back on our flag. She called on the WNBA to stop playing our national anthem before games. This was after the murder of George Floyd.
It does not matter that Floyd was not a good guy. He was murdered right in front of our eyes and it is true that a lot of black people thought this was just the latest piece of racism to play out. The violent reaction across the country was wrong on every level however.
I have been with black friends who have been stopped for driving while black (it is a thing!) and the worst thing I remember was going shopping with my buddy Alan (who produced my show for a while). We went into the store and he was immediately followed. I was not.
So let's get back to Brittney Griner and what she actually said. "I honestly feel we should not play the National Anthem during our season. I think we should take that much of a stand."
She was not done. She said that if the Star Spangled Banner was played, she would walk off the court.
"I'm going to protest regardless," she said. "I'm not going to be out there for the National Anthem. If the league continues to want to play it, that's fine. It will be all season long.. I'll not be out there. I feel like more are going to probably do the same thing. I can only speak for myself."
Now you can agree with her stance or not. It doesn't really matter. This is where we invoke our super power again. Not only was she free to say and do those things, but we who disagree with her actions, need to defend her right to do it.
Here is a little reported thing she said at the same time. I have put it in bold deliberately.
"I don't mean that in any disrespect to our country. My dad was in Vietnam and a law officer for 30 years. I wanted to be a cop before basketball. I do have pride for my country."
That shouldn't actually make a difference, but I thought you would want to know.
Now for a very minor crime even in Russia and what would not be a crime of any description here, she finds herself in a penal colony and a pawn in a game of international politics. It is wrong.
There are some who say she is getting what she deserves. No she is not.. She is an American being used by Russia to slap Joe Biden around. All of our voices should rise up in unity and demand Russia release her immediately and reunite her with her loved ones.