MONDAY, JULY 18, 2022
Roxane Gay's sacred text: Brittney Griner is an American professional basketball player.
For the past four months, Griner has been under arrest in Russia. (She plays in the Russian professional league during the WNBA's off-season.) She has pleaded guilty to the crime of (unwittingly) bringing a small amount of hashish oil, an illegal substance, into Mother Russia.
Griner faces possible years of detention in a Russian penal colony. Yesterday, in the Sunday New York Times, Roxane Gay wrote a guest essay about this matter.
Gay feels that we the people are gripped by a lack of outrage about the treatment of Griner. She offers a familiar explanation for our lack of concern—for our nation's bad behavior.
Gay scolds "us" in a fully predictable way. In these latter days, our blue tribe tribunes perform this sort of task in their sleep.
Roxane Gay starts her essay by name-calling us the people. Challenging headline included, her essay started like this:
Brittney Griner Is Trapped and Alone. Where’s Your Outrage?
When unspeakable tragedies occur, people often call for unity. They’ll say, “We are Boston Strong” or “Je suis Charlie” or “We are [insert wherever or whomever the unthinkable has happened to].” It’s a laudable instinct to claim solidarity with those who have suffered, to imagine we truly understand the ways we are all connected, to proclaim that what affects one of us affects all of us.
With the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner wrongfully detained in Russia for more than four months because a small amount of hashish oil was allegedly found in her luggage, I’m wondering why we haven’t seen more of a groundswell of demands for her release. In the attention economy, Ms. Griner’s predicament seems as if it’s being somewhat ignored.
The media is, at least, covering the story, and some rights groups and athletes have spoken up, but that isn’t enough. More public pressure for action is necessary. “We are B.G.” should be a viral rallying cry, but it isn’t—and why? Is it misogyny? Racism? Homophobia? The unholy trifecta?
Where's the outrage, Gay asks. And sure enough—by the end of paragraph 3, she has named an "unholy trifecta" as she pretends to explain why we don't seem to care.
Viewed a slightly different was, Gay was citing a holy trinity—the gods to whom our flailing blue tribe now stands in complete total thrall.
Why aren't we the people displaying more outrage about Griner's plight? Within our highly self-impressed tribe, only three possibilities exist:
It could be our misogyny which has caused this shortfall of outrage. Or it could be our racism—or our homophobia could be the cause!
Lat's state this matter a simpler way. By rule of law—by sacred fiat—we the Amerikan people are all "the deplorables" now.
This is a matter of sacred law. It's the way our failing tribe plays.
Brittney Griner is a woman; she's also black and gay. By the sacred writ which now controls the conduct of our failing tribe, those alleged facts explain the alleged lack of outrage concerning Griner's deeply substantial plight.
It has to be our misogyny and homophobia. It's our racism, ourselves! But then we get to paragraph 4, and Gay is allowed by the New York Times to cite an additional fact:
GAY (continuing directly): Ms. Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges, but explained she did not intentionally break Russian law. Now she faces up to 10 years in a penal colony. She is trapped and alone, her plight unimaginable. There are, in fact, reportedly more than 60 Americans who are wrongfully detained abroad, all wondering when or if they will be saved. They have families who are working tirelessly for their return. They all deserve our compassion and attention.
Ms. Griner is receiving more attention than most, but that’s not saying much...
Our blue tribe is famously self-impressed. But as we bow to our tribe's current gods, we're also increasingly illogical—and the agents of our own defeat.
Uh-oh! As Gay notes in paragraph 4—as she understood all along—Griner isn't the only American "wrongfully detained abroad!"
According to Gay, there are more than sixty other people in this unfortunate circumstance. And Griner's case is "receiving more attention"—in fact, it's receiving much more attention—than the other cases involving those other unfortunate souls.
Griner's case is receiving attention; the other sixty are not. Why then did Gay assail our racism and our misogyny before she noted this point?
The answer to that is clear. By now, the Identity Gods are the only gods of our dumb, self-destructive tribe. Our tribe bows low to their jealous demands. People like Gay behave as adepts have always behaved, all through the annals of time.
The dicta of the Identify Gods have taken control of our tribe. This leads us to make illogical statements, to take counterproductive steps.
The ugly illogic of Gay's presentation is surely apparent to all. Indeed, it's so clear that you'd almost think that a New York Times editor would have been able to spot it.
If you thought that, you misunderstand the era to which we've all been condemned. In the hands of people like Gay, it has become an act of sacred law:
In every case, "we" must be assailed, right at the jump, for our misogyny / racism / homophobia. After that, adepts like Gay may allow brief exposure to one or two actual facts.
Tomorrow: The unyielding soul of the adept