An American athlete doesn't know what oppression is
This is a tale of two athletes, one of whom thinks she is oppressed and one of whom really is oppressed (although she seems to have escaped that fate for now).
Raven Saunders is an American who competes in the shot put and discus throw, two sports with the collective interest of watching paint dry. Nevertheless, she made headlines — not for her silver medal, but for her questionable gesture on the podium during the medal ceremony, where she raised her arms above her head and crossed them to form an "X."
Saunders claims that the gesture was meant to show an intersection of black people, the LGBT community, and those struggling with mental health issues. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) is just fine with Saunders's gesture. The USOPC ruled that the gesture was a peaceful support of racial and social justice that did not violate any rules. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) let Saunders slide as well.
Enter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian sprinter who was removed from competition and taken to the airport against her wishes for the crime of criticizing her team's coaches. There's no freedom of speech in Belarus. Olympians have been thrown in jail for protesting President Alexander Lukashenko's disputed re-election. Olympian Yelena Leuchanka spoke out about her fifteen days in jail, describing the terrible conditions at the height of the pandemic. Leuchanka was immediately re-arrested upon her release, and she tested positive for coronavirus. No wonder Tsimanouskaya dreads returning to Belarus. Fortunately, she won't have to. She's been granted asylum in Poland, while her husband has sought refuge in Ukraine.
The different fates of these two athletes graphically illustrate why America is the greatest country in the world. Saunders disgraced her country, on the Olympic podium during the medal ceremony, and the USOPC has officially decided she did nothing wrong. Saunders has nothing to fear in the United States. No matter how critical she is of her country, she will not suffer fines or imprisonment for her conduct during the Olympics.
Tsimanouskaya, on the other hand, will probably never be able to go home again. A little criticism of her team's coaches, and she was removed from the team and forcibly escorted to the airport to be sent back to Belarus, where people are fined and imprisoned for speaking their minds. Perhaps spoiled American athletes should learn what real oppression is before protesting on an Olympic podium against the country that treats them so well.
Pandra Selivanov is the author of The Pardon, a story of forgiveness based on the thief on the cross in the Bible.
Image: Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refuses to board her flight home. YouTube screen grab.
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