Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s ‘cancel culture’ comments aimed at WNBA players are nonsense
WNBA players are exercising their freedom of speech. In Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s eyes, that means they are part of “cancel culture.”
Ahead of Tuesday’s games, several players were seen wearing “Vote Warnock” T-shirts in support of Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is battling Loeffler for her Senate seat in a special election this November.
Loeffler, the co-owner of the Dream, wrote a letter to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert last month expressing her opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement and the league’s promotion of social justice messages on courts and jerseys. Dream forward Elizabeth Williams told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that players discussed publicly wearing “Vote Warnock” T-shirts because “for effective change to happen, there has to be policy changes. And so if we’re going to sit here and talk about wanting justice reform, part of that is making sure that we have officials in office that understand that.”
“I think when all this stuff started happening with her, we didn’t want to feel like we were pawns,” Williams told Shelburne. “We can only control so much about what the league does [in regard to Loeffler], and so for us, we wanted it to be bigger than that.
“That’s kind of been the theme of this season. So we wanted to make sure we could still keep the focus on our social justice movement, and funny enough, Rev. Warnock is somebody who supports everything that we support and just happens to be running in that seat. So it just worked out really well.”
Storm guard Sue Bird, whom Williams credited with originally suggesting the T-shirt idea, told ESPN’s Holly Rowe that wearing a “Vote Warnock” T-shirt is voluntary for WNBA players, but it’s “always great to be unified.”
“I think we all worked together,” Bird said. “We’re a league that represents more than just basketball, and I think one of the things that is really important to us is voting. I think this is just a great way to connect those dots between social justice and getting out and voting.”
In response to WNBA players backing Warnock, Loeffler issued a statement, which identified her as a “political outsider and conservative businesswoman.”
“This is just more proof that the out-of-control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them,” Loeffler said. “It’s clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball, and I stand by what I wrote in June.”
Loeffler then reiterated her stance against the BLM movement, saying it promotes “radical ideas” such as “defunding the police and eroding the nuclear family.” (Loeffler is likely referring to this portion of the “What We Believe” section on the BLM website: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.”)
To be abundantly clear, Loeffler is not being “canceled.” She voiced her opinion, and WNBA players are doing the same. If they choose to support a different candidate, that doesn’t mean Loeffler is suddenly off the ballot.
In fact, despite WNBA players calling for the removal of Loeffler as co-owner of the Dream, Engelbert stated last month that Loeffler will not be forced to sell her share of the franchise. So Loeffler hasn’t lost her position in the organization, her Senate seat or her ability to speak out on the issues that matter to her.
As is often the case in these situations, the word “canceled” could easily be replaced with “faced the consequences of his or her actions.” WNBA players don’t agree with Loeffler, so they aren’t encouraging others to vote for her. They are aligning themselves with a candidate who holds similar views.
That’s not “cancel culture.” That’s just America.
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