In a letter she sent to WNBA President Cathy Engelbert, Loeffler said BLM was “totally misaligned with the values and goals of the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream, where we support tolerance and inclusion.” Instead of having WNBA players wear warmup shirts emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter” and courts painted with the same message, the senator urged the WNBA to put American flags on its jerseys as a “unifying rallying point for the American people.”
After accusing BLM in her letter of harboring “anti-Semitic views” and promoting “violence and destruction across the country,” Loeffler continued her scathing depiction of the movement Wednesday in an appearance on Fox News.
“This is a very divisive organization based on Marxist principles,” said Loeffler, who has been a co-owner of the Dream since 2011. “This week, they threatened to burn the system down, literally and figuratively, if they don’t get what they want. This is an organization that seeks to destroy American principles, and I had to draw the line.”
Loeffler appeared to be referring to a June 24 appearance on Fox News by activist Hawk Newsome, who clarified previous comments he had made by telling the network, “I said if this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. And I could be speaking figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It’s a matter of interpretation.”
The managing director of the BLM Global Network subsequently told the Associated Press that Newsome “has no relation” to that organization and does not represent it. He reportedly was a past president of a BLM group based in New York that is not an affiliate chapter of the global network.
The day after Newsome made his comments, President Trump paraphrased them in a tweet and declared, “This is Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!” Moments later, he sent another tweet suggesting that a common chant at BLM rallies was a reference to killing police officers: “Pigs in a Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon.”
An Atlanta-based business executive with no previous political experience, Loeffler described herself as “pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-Trump and pro-wall” upon her appointment in December to fill a vacant Senate seat. The 49-year-old native of Illinois now faces a strong challenge from the right in her bid to win a special election in November.
In her Fox News appearance, Loeffler was asked about comments made Tuesday on CNN by Natasha Cloud, a Washington Mystics player who opted out of this season to focus on issues of social justice. Cloud is among the players who have used social media to call for the WNBA and Loeffler to part ways — “Get her weak a-- out of our league,” Cloud tweeted Saturday. She said Tuesday of the Dream co-owner, “For her to come out and say that we’re divisive and that the Black Lives Matter movement is a divisive organization, I call her BS on that.”
“There’s no room in this country for racism,” Loeffler told Fox News, “but this isn’t what the Black Lives Matter political organization is about.”
Claiming that viewers have “seen the anarchy and riots,” she added, “So I felt I had to speak out and make sure people understand that this organization is divisive in its goals. It is anti-Semitic. It doesn’t support the nuclear family.”
Of a statement Tuesday by Engelbert in which the WNBA commissioner noted Loeffler was “no longer involved in the day-to-day business of the team,” the senator said, “This isn’t about me. This is about every American’s right to speak out, to enjoy free speech and to support whatever cause and not be canceled.
“We have this cancel culture that is threatening America,” Loeffler continued, “and the foundation of it is that Americans are afraid to speak out because of the cancel culture. And I’m not going to be silenced by it. I encourage other Americans to speak out, and I am going to stand for them because I am taking attacks from the left, and they’re not just attacking me — they want to destroy me.”
Asked at that point whether there was “any chance” she would sell her stake in the team, Loeffler replied, “No.”
Citing a source, the Athletic reported Thursday that Loeffler and co-owner Mary Brock have been trying to sell the Dream for several years. A spokesperson for the team did not immediately respond to a request for comment on that report or Loeffler’s assertion Wednesday that she was not going to sell her stake.
In an interview with the Athletic, Loeffler reiterated her criticism of what she described as a new “cancel culture.”
“It’s dangerous, and it’s part of the socialist agenda, the Marxist agenda, of some of these political platforms,” she told the website.
Former Dream player Layshia Clarendon, now with the New York Liberty, said Thursday that she was upset at Loeffler’s decision to “double down” on her criticism of BLM at a time when the league is trying to promote what players consider a very positive and constructive message.
“It was really hurtful to hear that,” Clarendon said in an interview on CNN, “having played for her, having shared space with her, having had dinner at her house.”
Clarendon, who tweeted Tuesday that Loeffler was “happy to own us as long as we stay quiet and perform,” said on CNN that she and other players were “surprised [Loeffler] would want to be a part of this league, given her feelings.”
“So we’d love for her to not represent us anymore,” Clarendon added, “because what she stands for is not a part of our league.”