The drug-war hypocrisy of President Biden and the mainstream press are on full display in Russia, specifically in the case of Brittney Griner, the renowned W.N.B.A. basketball star. Griner was caught with a small amount of hashish oil in her luggage upon arriving in Russia to play for a Russian basketball team during the offseason. She has been detained by Russian authorities for drug-war violations since February 17 of this year. She faces a possible 10-year jail sentence.
Imbued with their extreme anti-Russia animus, Biden and the mainstream press have gone ballistic, accusing Russian authorities of illegitimately detaining Griner. They have been maintaining that Russian authorities should release her immediately and permit her to return to the United States without any further delay.
For example, here is an editorial from the Los Angeles Times entitled “Free Brittney Griner,” in which the Times writes, “We don’t know if Griner brought contraband into Russia or if she’s being framed by an adversarial government with an unjust legal system. At this point, it really doesn’t matter. This punishment does not fit the alleged crime, and it’s clear that Griner is essentially a political hostage. She must be freed.”
Consider this op-ed in the New York Times in which a Times sports columnist named Kurt Streeter repeatedly repeats the phrase “141 days,” to depict what he considers to be an excessively long period of time for Griner to be held on drug charges.
Meanwhile, after these pieces were written, Griner decided to plead guilty to the charges. So far, there is no allegation by either newspaper that the Russians forced her to plead guilty.
For his part, Biden is steadfastly maintaining that despite Griner’s guilty plea, the Russians are still holding Griner illegitimately. Unfortunately, he failed to provide any explanation for his reasoning, most likely because he doesn’t have one. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed this when she stated, “We believe that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained Brittney Griner, and she is in intolerable circumstances right now. We are going to do everything that we can — the president has this top of mind — to make sure that we get Brittney home safely.”
Of course, there is one great big elephant in the room that none of these people dares to confront and address: drug laws. Russia has drug laws, just like the United States does.
Now, think about that: Russia is an authoritarian state, one that has drug laws as part of its legal structure. In fact, think about China, a totalitarian communist state, one that also has drug laws as part of its system.
Given such, what does that say about the United States, given that it too has drug laws as part of its system. In fact, both the federal government and the state governments have brutally enforced drug laws for decades, as thousands of people who have been prosecuted and incarcerated can attest.
Streeter laments, repeatedly, that Griner has been in jail for “141 days.” Sure, three months is a long time, given that no one should should ever be detained at all for possessing drugs. But what Streeter omits from his lamentations is that 141 days is nothing compared to the years-long and decades-long jail sentences that American citizens have received at the hands of not the Russians but rather at the hands of their very own government officials — just for possessing or distributing drugs.
Just a few weeks ago, a festival organized by a group called the Rainbow Family was held in a national forest in Colorado. A U.S. magistrate popped in and opened up a makeshift courtroom in the middle of the forest. And guess why he did that. So that he could arraign people who were charged with possession of marijuana and other minor offenses. You can catch a photograph of this guy in this Washington Post article. He is quoted as saying, “Have you ever been in a more beautiful courtroom?”
It’s worth noting that Griner is black. Why is that important? Because it helps to remind us of the racist nature of America’s drug laws. The people who are serving the longest jail sentences here in the United States for drug-war violations are black. In fact, America’s drug war is without a doubt the most racist government program since segregation.
The Wall Street Journal, citing NORML, states that Griner’s possession of a small quantity of hashish oil would have been legal in Arizona and 18 other states. That’s only partially true. It’s legal under state law, but not federal law. The federal government continues to make possession of illicit drugs, including marijuana and hashish oil, illegal in every state, just as Russia does.
There is, of course, another lesson to be learned here. The more that the Pentagon, by itself or through NATO, incites foreign crises or creates official enemies in order to justify the continuation of its massive and ever-increasing taxpayer-funded largess, it makes it much more unsafe for Americans to travel overseas.
Brittney Griner’s arrest and detention for drug-war violations in Russia puts a needed mirror on America’s war on drugs. The best thing U.S. officials could do to help others around the world who are victimized for drug-war violations is by ending its own drug-war tyranny here at home. That means legalization of all drugs, both at the federal and state levels. It also means immediately releasing every person from every state and federal prison who has been incarcerated for a non-violent drug offense. It’s always best to lead by example, as compared to engaging in hypocritical tirades against foreign regimes that are enforcing the same drug-war tyranny that U.S. officials are enforcing here at home.