Brittany Griner and the GOP

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

By now, you may have heard of the prisoner swap with Russia in which WNBA champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner, Brittany Griner, was suddenly released from a Russian gulag in exchange for a dastardly weapons dealer.

Russia’s Putin was literally playing political basketball with the life of Ms. Griner when she was given a kangaroo court trial and sentenced to nine years in prison for inadvertently bringing into Russia vape cartridges that contained residues of marijuana oil (her doctor had prescribed the drug for her various physical pains).

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine still being a hot spot, the arrest of Griner was a fabulous chance for Russia to stick it to the US by holding Griner for approximately nine months and enjoying seeing the US bend, pull, heave and push for an exchange deal.

Regrettably, the exchange deal did not include Paul Whelan who also has been a captive in Russia for approximately four years on grounds of espionage. The former Marine was hoping that he would be in that exchange group, but Putin nixed that idea believing that he could get more mileage out of Whelan and use him as bait for bigger fish.

When the news first hit, predictably, it was the myopic GOP leadership who went ballistic clamoring that Griner was not worthy of a prisoner swap over that of the former Marine.

From the way that certain GOP voices were excoriating and denouncing her, not knowing better, you would have thought that Griner had stolen US secrets in her luggage and sold them to Russia!


Brittany Griner

Predictably, Fox News led the onslaught of political bludgeons against the basketball star allowing razor sharp commentary to be played in which she was pilloried for being, “anti-American.”

The smear of being anti-American was due to her, and other athletes, making a stand and while commenting and bowing their knees or not standing up at sporting events when the National Anthem was played.

Their protest was in reference to police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (among other dozens of deaths of Black men and women) executed by police officers.

Somehow and in some way, the clueless GOP have opined that if you do not stand for the anthem, you are a traitor or are anti-American!

Think of that. Somehow White America culture has so inculcated the society with the idea that sporting events and the playing of the National Anthem are twins joined at the hip.

How do you remotely equate playing the National Anthem as being required or necessary at a basketball or a football or a hockey game or a baseball game?

What does the playing of that anthem have to do with a player hitting a home run, or scoring a hat trick on the ice or performing a triple double on a basketball court?

How does one tabulate and keep score if a player kneels during the playing of the anthem and his touchdown throwing average or yards per carry?

Where is it found that in order to play a sports game that you must play the National Anthem or else?

It is sheer folly to even conflate the playing of the National Anthem with being a blessing for athletes who have never indicated that hearing the strains of that music caused them to kick a 70-yard field goal or to return a punt for 50 yards or hit three home runs in a single game.

What makes this GOP shameless charade even more disgusting is that these same spineless GOP leaders were morbidly fearful of pointing out Donald Trump for his many inane statements that were diametrically opposed to the goals and values of the US of A.

Donald Trump, the apparent titular head of the GOP, was ranting and raving on his Social Truth website about this exchange being an embarrassment to the US of A!

But it was this same demagogue who is in favor of shredding the Constitution to suit his own whims of still trying to overturn the 2020 elections.

Donald Trump Jr. was also lambasting Griner by calling her anti-American but Junior is mum on his Daddy willingness to support the January 6th rioters who used the American Flag to pummel Capitol Police Officers! You cannot make this stuff up!

The GOP has not denounced the rioters for attempting a coup and the former disgraced president is already promising that if he is elected, he will pardon the rioters!

And yet these hypocrites would in their most sanctimonious voices rebuke Griner for making a first amendment stance regarding police misconduct! How rich is that?

Question? Could any of their feigned outrage be attributable to the fact that Ms. Griner is a Black gay person and for the GOP denouncing her as being “anti” plays into the playbook of their deplorable voting base?

As opposed to being glad that any American in illegal captivity has been returned, the GOP wants to slam her with invectives that bespeak that she is not one of, “us.”

The GOP has predetermined who and what qualifies for approval and affirmation, and it surely is not a Black gay protester who does not stand for the National Anthem at sporting venues.

Maybe one day we can uncouple the playing of the National Anthem from the frenzy of playing sports, but that day is not now.


Contact Lafe Tolliver at