Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Griner Alone Chorus

In late April, after the release from Russia of Trevor Reed in a prisoner swap, CNN reminded us that Paul

Whelan, a US citizen and former Marine, was detained at a Moscow hotel in December 2018 and arrested on espionage charges, which he has consistently and vehemently denied. He was convicted and sentenced in June 2020 to 16 years in prison in a trial US officials denounced as unfair.....

In a separate statement earlier Wednesday, the Whelan family expressed happiness about Reed's release after more than two years in Russian detention, but said it is a day of "varied emotions" and questions for them.

The detainment of WNBA star Brittney Griner increases the opportunity for a deal which would include Whelan. And after the agreement that included Reed but not Whelan, the "Biden administration "said it will continue to work for Paul Whelan's release, as well as that of detained WNBA player Brittney Griner."

The Administration, wanting both Whelan and Griner released, has little company.  On Tuesday, we heard from "King" LeBron as

"Now, how can she feel like America has her back?" James said in a trailer for the latest episode of his talk show, "The Shop: Uninterrupted," which airs on YouTube. "I would be feeling like, 'Do I even want to go back to America?'"

James later tweeted Tuesday that his comments were not meant to disrespect "our beautiful country""....


James' Uninterrupted multimedia platform is also selling T-shirts with "We Are BG" printed on the front, with Uninterrupted's online store stating that the proceeds from the merchandise will go to The BG Advocacy Fund, run by Griner's family to cover legal costs associated with her release.

Last Saturday, opinion columnist Evette Dionne noted on the MSNBC website

In March, Black Feminist Future, a national organization “focused on the dynamic possibilities of galvanizing the social and political power of Black women, girls, and gender-expansive people toward liberation,” launched Bring Brittney Home. The multipart campaign, which includes clear demands for the Biden administration (“We demand the U.S. government prioritize the swift and safe release and return of Brittney Griner back to the United States — facing no charges”), has a comprehensive media toolkit for those who want to express support for Griner but are unsure where to start.

Dionne, in apparent seriousness, decried the Biden Administration's "apparent lack of  urgency" because "queer Black women are deprioritized on both sides of the political aisle." 

Compared to LeBron James, certainly. Compared also to "WNBA leaders (who) created a petition that has garnered more than 300,000 signatures and is using social media to continue shining a spotlight on this injustice."  and the NBA's Boston Celtics, who wore “We Are BG” shirts that included a QR code for the petition.  Compared also to Griner's wife Cherelle, who has been active on Instagram and has been seen frequently on MSNBC and CNN.  

Paul Whelan's brother, David, also has been fairly visible. He has pled for greater attention to the detention of both his brother and Brittney Griner. His is almost a voice crying alone in the wilderness.

If you have seen a problem here, you are paying attention. If you have not, you are, quite understandably, unaware of Paul Whelan's incarceration in a Russian prison. Or perhaps you believe- like some of Brittney Griner's advocates- that only some American lives matter.

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