Sunday, March 24, 2024

Good Work, If You Can Get It

Louisiana State University women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey h is a controversial figure and her overwrought response to an expected article in The Washington Post probably represents an overwrought response from a conservative woman of privilege.   

But the reference to Britney Griner, who was swapped in December of 2022 for the "Merchant of Death" arms dealer, evokes a far larger issue than Mulkey or the women's basketball tournament.  According to this source, these are the other Americans detained or incarcerated in Russia:

- Paul Whelan, ex-Marine sentenced in 2020 for 16 years in prison on espionage charges;

- Marc Fogel, former U.S. teacher and diplomat, sentenced in 6/22 to 14 years in a maximum security prison "for charges of large-scale drug acquisition, manufacture, smuggling, and possession";

- Evan Gershkovitz, Wall Street Journal reporter detained since 3/23 for allegedly trying "to obtain classified defense information for the U.S. government"; 

- Aisa Kurmasheva, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist, arrested 10/23 "for failing to register as a foreign agent" and later charged with additional offenses;

- Robert Romanov Woodland, arrested 1/24 on drug charges;

- Ksenia Karelina, sentenced to 14 days for "hooliganism" and days later ordered to be further detained "on suspicion of committing treason."

A cursory look at these six individuals reveals that all six appear to be white, unlike Britney Griner, who is black. That probably has little to do with the persistent and successful effort by the USA government to secure Griner's release.

Unlike Griner, married to Cherelle Griner, none of the six is in a same-sex relationship, as far as has been reported.  That is probably a reason, though not the most important, that Ms. Griner served less than ten months, 9-10 months too long, as a guest of the Soviet state. (This is a Democratic Administration, after all.)

“was about screaming from the mountaintop and trying to have the public and ultimately the government and White House pay attention to us, because we knew that without the government support and the support of the White House, she probably wasn’t going to come home,” Calder Hynes told PR Daily. Hynes is senior vice president of global communications at Wasserman, the sports and entertainment talent agency that has represented Griner for years.

Wasserman coordinated efforts to release Griner from her nearly 10-month imprisonment in Russia, a massive undertaking that required working with not only the government, international attorneys and hostage experts, but also the WNBA, USA Basketball and the court of public opinion.

In an interview with PR Daily, Hynes and Griner’s longtime agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas revealed how they worked to first keep the incident quiet – and then how to ensure every American viewed Griner as their sister, daughter or neighbor.

Whelan, Fogel, Gershkovitz, Kurmasheva, Woodland, and Karelina cannot dribble a basketball. Coach Mulkey in her statement asserted "I've hired the best defamation law firm in the country and I will sue The Washington Post if they publish a false story about me. Not many people are in a position to hold this kind of journalist accountable- but I am."

Here is a famed basketball figure who is highly successful and determined- and who possesses a sense of privilege. It is the privilege of being among the few in the position to do as she wishes. Though with starkly different demeanor- and probably character- Britney Griner benefited for a similar kind of privilege. 

It may be ironic then, that, Mulkey did not speak out when Griner was in captivity. But it is more significant that one is excellent at dribbling- or shooting or rebounding- a basketball, and the other at coaching individuals to do so. For all the others, who cannot do such a thing, we Americans extend them wishes for the good luck they'll need.  


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