Donald Trump's June was replete with many highlights: he accused an older man from Buffalo, knocked to the ground by police, of faking the incident; he imperiled followers and staff by sponsoring a Covid-19/Trump 20 festival in Tulsa; and he made a stirring and completely unfathomable effort to preserve the monuments erected to the Confederacy. As for that third task, he is probably ignorant of the fact that most of those statues were erected to placate the hardline Southerners still angry that slavery had been abolished.
On the other side of the coin, but on the same coin, basketball star Maya Moore spent the month of June, and many months before that trying to free Jonathan Irons, a Missouri man who continuously claimed innocence as he served a 50-year prison sentence for burglary and assault with a gun. He had served 23 years before having his sentence overturned. It's a huge story—a major sports figure interrupting a hall-of-fame career to serve the cause of justice.
Today, as we approach the only holiday that celebrates America as a country, it's important to look at the dichotomy between a Black woman using her fame to better the life of one man and his family, and a white man of privilege using his fame to better himself.
Some might say that the president has done his part to release people from custody also.
Like Michael Flynn, confessed liar.
Like Lieutenant Clint Lorance, who had ordered soldiers under his command to open fire on three men who were moving toward them on a motorcycle “with unusual speed.”
Like Major Mathew Golsteyn, a Green Beret who has been charged with an unlawful killing in Afghanistan and was facing a court martial.
Like Navy Seal Edward Gallagher, accused of killing an Afghan prisoner. He was promoted before the trial, then found not guilty of murder, but guilty on another charge. The promotion stood.
Expect Roger Stone to be the next benefactor.
There is anger and frustration in the military over the release of Lorance, Golsteyn, and Gallagher. The release of Flynn has flouted the rule of law. Justice has been subverted, and all this against a backdrop of a frightening increase the number of Covid-19 as ICUs and emergency rooms are being overrun. But while we wait for some acknowledgment from the president that 130,000 Americans have died under his watch and that soldiers in Afghanistan may very have been killed for cash by Russian bounty hunters, the president will be in South Dakota watching a fireworks display at Rushmore. Masks optional. Along with common sense.
At a time when national pride is at its nadir, we can look to someone like Maya Moore and feel some encouragement. The story itself has flown under the radar—the average casual sports fan can probably spell Colin Kaepernick but not be able to identify Ms. Moore—and that is in some ways the weakness of a woman's sport with a male counterpart. But of greater importance is the fact that women have been doing this longer than men. Four years ago Moore and her Minnesota Lynx teammates wore t-shirts with the names of two police officers responsible for the deaths of Philando Castile in a Minneapolis suburb and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La. The W.N.B.A. castigated them and four off-duty Minneapolis police officers who worked security at Lynx’ games walked out. Moore was unapologetic: months later Kaepernick knelt.
The fight for justice, if it cannot be led by our elected officials or by the department whose sole raison d'être is justice itself, must be carried out by people like Moore and Kaepernick...and by us. It won't be Trump leading the charge, not if he's trampling sacred ground in the Black Hills, staging a rally on land we stole. He can't appreciate irony—justice is well beyond him.