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2022 Man of the Year: Paul Whelan

In some ways, playing identity bingo is the ultimate cheat code to life these days. Pull a straight, and you can get away with anything.

Get caught carrying out one of the largest leaks of classified records in U.S. history? Not a problem—the president will spring you from prison, provided you change your name and mutilate your genitals. Want to manage America’s nuclear waste by day and get your rocks off stealing women’s clothes by night? You do you, as long as you’re a “genderfluid” spanking fanatic who ties your partners up like dogs in your sex dungeon. Do you identify as a wolf and howl at the moon? That will land you a fat monthly paycheck in some California cities.

But real heroes don’t take the easy way out. They find the strength to persevere and stay the course even in the face of unimaginable hardship.

Take for example Paul Whelan, the white, cisgender, heterosexual former Marine who has been held hostage in a Russian gulag since late 2018 on trumped-up espionage charges. President Joe Biden had the opportunity in December to release Whelan from his wrongful imprisonment. Instead, he swapped murderous arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as “The Merchant of Death,” for Brittney Griner, the America-hating black lesbian basketball player best known for being one of only six WNBA players to ever throw down a dunk.

It matters not that Whelan has maintained his innocence since his wrongful arrest and that Griner immediately confessed to violating Russian drug laws. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said the quiet part out loud: Griner is black. And a woman, but also gay. Biden had no choice.

What a great relief!!! Extraordinary news, a basketball star, but also a gay, black woman is released. And yes of course we want other prisoners like Paul Whelan released.

— Randi Weingarten 🇺🇦🇺🇸💪🏿👩‍🎓 (@rweingarten) December 8, 2022

The Washington Free Beacon knows a grave injustice when it sees one. Griner will soon return to the basketball court to entertain a handful of WNBA fans while Whelan continues to rot in a Russian gulag, abandoned by his government.

Whelan, understandably, was utterly dejected upon learning Biden failed to secure his release. But the former Marine has maintained his innocence and stayed true to himself throughout a hellish ordeal that would have broken most men, and for that, Paul Whelan is a Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year.

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