Ross: Griner’s freedom is more than her own, it represents America

Dec 9, 2022, 8:28 AM | Updated: Dec 12, 2022, 7:41 am
A pedestrian walks past a "Black Lives Matter" mural depicting Brittney Griner outside the Footprint Center on December 08, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. WNBA player Brittney Griner was released after being detained in Russia since February as part of a prisoner swap that involved Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Yesterday, Gee and Ursula were discussing Brittney Griner’s swap, when Ursula launched into what sounded like a desperate Christmas wish.

“I’m hoping with the new year, we move away from, ‘if you criticize something that means that you just hate them,'” Ursula said. “Whether someone is kneeling, someone is doing something to show, ‘hey, this is something I feel is unfair in this country that I love.’ Does that mean that you hate the country?”

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She was referring to social media posts saying Griner didn’t deserve to be released because during the George Floyd demonstrations in 2020, when she was playing for the WNBA, she deliberately walked off the court in protest during the National Anthem.

And so, for some people, the equation becomes: “The U.S. gives up a convicted Russian arms dealer for a spoiled athlete who hates America.”

Number one: there was going to be criticism no matter what Biden did.

But number two: we really know nothing about what has really happened here.

This is just speculation on my part, but Vicktor Bout, this arms dealer who we released, has been in prison for 11 years. And I have to think that he has subjected himself to some extensive debriefing in hopes of finally getting his freedom.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if, deep inside his body, there’s an Apple Tag, or its microscopic equivalent, securely installed near some vital organ. Again, just speculation. But to all of you who write in to warn me about the nefarious things the Deep State is up to – if our government is clever enough to pull off half the things you suspect, don’t you think it’s capable of compromising an imprisoned Russian arms dealer?

I actually think it’s amazing Russia wanted him back.

But there’s another aspect to Griner’s swap that’s not just speculation. It’s about what makes America exceptional in the eyes of the un-free world.

I’ve been to Russia three times, and one of my most vivid memories was from way back in 1987 – I asked a young Russian student what he thought about the U.S. After showing me his smuggled Elvis cassettes – he said what impressed him most were all the articles about the protests always going on in America. That, to him, was proof of American freedom.

We can argue about whether protests like Griner’s are effective, or even appropriate.

But if you believe America should stand as an example of freedom – what’s better than trading for a protestor? We are a nation that prospers because of our freedoms – a concept that goes against everything Putin stands for. It’s the reason he attacked Ukraine’s democracy.

What I see in this swap is America standing up for a peaceful protestor with a taste for hashish, and Russia standing up for a merchant of death.

And if that has you thinking Russia is “winning,” – I guess we disagree.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Griner’s freedom is more than her own, it represents America