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    Sunday, September 24, 2023

    Shame on those celebrating Griner’s imprisonment

    Brittney Griner still sits in a Russian prison for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

    Ponder the absurdity of the previous sentence.

    And yet the outrageousness of what amounts to the firing squad at dawn for a speeding ticket is not the most egregious tentacle to the story. Nor is how our government’s efforts to free her move with the urgency of an arthritic snail.

    What I cannot tolerate is the glee with which some political pundits and social media antagonists have derived from Griner’s imprisonment, stemming from her stance on the national anthem.

    A sampling:

    • “On the bright side, B. Griner won’t have to endure our National Anthem for 9 whole years! What a win for her!”

    • “o happy (sic) Brittney Griner moved to a place where she doesn’t have to worry about hearing that nasty AMERICAN ANTHEM anymore.”

    • “I wonder if Brittney Griner stands or takes a knee for the Russian national anthem every morning in her jail cell.”

    • “Griner was sentenced to 9 years and a $16K fine. It would be easier to be sympathetic if she hadn’t disrespected our National Anthem so flagrantly.”

    • “On the bright side, she has not had to hear the National Anthem for 170 days.”

    Griner, for the uninitiated, told the Arizona Republic in 2020 that she didn't think the national anthem should be played before WNBA games, adding that she wouldn’t be on the floor if it was.

    “I honestly feel we should not play the national anthem during our season,” Griner said, during a time when the country was awash in protests over Breonna Taylor’s murder and the Black Lives Matter movement. “I think we should take that much of a stand. 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.

    “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.”

    Ah, but a segment in this country believes that Griner shouldn’t speak for herself. Unless she’s reciting the Gettysburg Address. America: Love it or leave it. Maybe this is why Oscar Wilde remains prophetic for saying many years ago, “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.”

    Glee over Griner’s plight got me thinking about numerous scenes between Carroll O’Connor (Archie Bunker) and Rob Reiner (Michael Stivic) from “All In The Family,” the timeless sitcom from the 70s that illustrates we haven’t changed much in the last 50 years.

    Archie would call his son-in-law “commie” and “pinko” because the “Meathead,” a college student, protested poverty, the Vietnam War and the Nixonian foibles in government. In Archie’s world, patriotism was blind, robotic and garish. You didn’t merely stand for the national anthem. You sang it the loudest.

    “All In The Family,” despite its timelessness and alarmingly accurate satire, would never make it today. All the hot takes about Archie’s musings would overwhelm any level of deeper thinking and examination. Ah, nuance. Turns out the writers of the show were actually mocking Archie for his bigotry. The joke was always on him for his fear and intolerance of things he didn’t understand.

    There’s not much difference between Archie Bunker and the people who mock Griner’s imprisonment. And what does it say about you if you’re on the same side of the argument as Archie Bunker?

    I do sporting events for a living. I find the ritual of the national anthem jingoistic and unnecessary. But I stand and remove my hat out of respect to the people who fought to protect our freedoms. How ironic, indeed, that other people are mocked for exercising such freedoms. This just in: The right to dissent was only in the Bill of Rights.

    I’d like to hear Griner’s detractors explain the argument that defends our freedoms against the Neanderthals, but not only criticizes anyone who acts on such freedoms, but openly revels in those actions resulting in imprisonment.

    Nothing that has befallen Griner will encourage her to participate in the national anthem upon her return. That is her right. Even as she’s being treated wrong.

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.