SAN JOSE – April 22, 2014 — Recently, on the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record, the baseball Hall of Famer made some comments that can be understood as a comparison of the modern Republican Party to the Ku Klux Klan or KKK.
The 80-year-old Aaron provided his perceptions on the current state of race relations to USA Today on the anniversary of breaking Ruth’s career home run record when Hammerin’ Hank hit his 715th home run on April 8, 1974. It opened up a “Pandora’s Box” of hate mail being sent to the Atlanta Braves, and leftist media truncating the words Aaron used in the interview, while using the incident to “demonstrate” how racism still exists.
Although Americans don’t really need the media to help the general public to acknowledge that insensitive jerks and racists still exist in the world, it is important to take Hank Aaron seriously because his life experience speaks for itself. He was an eyewitness and recipient to such bigotry, hatred, and racism. Upon reading the original interview, a sports fan can see a part of American history through Aaron’s eyes, which is not the part of the interview that created the controversy. The part of the interview that now the USA Today sportswriter is trying to downplay didn’t relate to Hank Aaron’s past; it had to do with the following statement:
“We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics,” Aaron said. “Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated… “The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”
The statement from the former baseball great was disappointing. It seemed as if this once great athlete, now current corporate vice president of community relations for Turner Broadcasting and current member of TBS’ board of directors, was making a political statement on behalf of his old boss, Ted Turner. It also brought up a memory of a similar, but more blatant statement that was made last October, during the year of the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida, got the not-so-bright idea to use imagery and poorly crafted logic to link the cross burning of the Ku Klux Klan to bigotry in the TEA Party.
This statement, like Aaron’s statement, ironically made within the context of remembering an incredibly historic sports event, also conjured up a memory of another blatant racial reference from mid-January of this year when President Obama in an interview in the New Yorker magazine stated among other things, that some people in the country do not like him simply because he is black. He did “qualify” his statement by saying that “opposition to large federal powers does not make one racist, but … supporters of states’ rights should also acknowledge the history tied to that philosophy, which was key to southern thinking during the Civil War…”
Obviously, the barbed point was intended to lump Obama’s opponents into the category of the latest version of racist thinking. The comments were from a man who once was viewed as the one who could heal the racial divide in America. Increasingly, many representatives and defenders of the Democrat Party are making concerted efforts designed to make a public linkage between the KKK and the Republican Party. President Obama’s use of the example of states’ rights advocates in the South during the time of the Civil War attempts to not-so-subtly views anyone who has disagreements with his policies on par with white southern slave owners or members of the KKK.
The statements regarding such “racist” opposition to President Obama, many from him, use the cry of racism as a shield or a spear to protect the president or the Democrat Party as they attempt to use the issue of racism to point fingers accuse, and divide, not to heal. The sum of such efforts has left the country even more racially embattled during Obama’s presidency – a case in point is Hank Aaron and his hate mail. One obvious question here would be whether it is really that hard to get the media to cover a story about racist hate mail and enlighten the general public to the fact that there are bigots and racists in the world? Is it really that hard to stir up an angry dog and get it to barking?
Such efforts, though not so subtle in some cases, need to be exposed as an ongoing political campaign to manipulate public perception, and promote a contorted or distorted vision of American history. Sadly, the major media outlets only exacerbate the problem by playing into the race debate. It is like Party propaganda, and is soaked up by the masses although it should do more to discredit the intelligence and credibility of the Democrats than to inflict lasting damage on the Republican Party. But, when have the masses paid heed to history?
It is quite likely that a majority of people are aware of the existence of racists in America. But, isn’t racism just another form of hatred? Is it a revelation that hatred exists in human societies? The media moguls are not naïve, and are aware that stirring up racial hatred is like covering a fight at a baseball game, or a punch fest at a hockey match. Such coverage builds ratings – it makes money it pays salaries. It is like reminding people that humans still know how to express hatred toward others. But hatred goes beyond racial differences. Pit an Atlanta Braves fan against a San Francisco Giants fan in a championship matchup and hatred can explode. Over what? Over a baseball game!
To realize how serious that can be and how dangerous hatred among rival fans can be, look up the horror of the San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, who was beaten to the point of near death when attacked after the season opener between the Dodgers and Giants in the parking lot of Dodgers’ Stadium in 2011. Stow, a father of two and a former paramedic, was taunted, punched, kicked, and beaten into a coma during an unprovoked confrontation with two Dodgers fans. Stow, now 45, suffered traumatic brain injury when his head slammed into the concrete of the parking lot, which has him with severe brain trauma and a permanent disability that will require 24-hour assistance for the rest of his life.
While such senseless violence is not the norm, manifestations of animosity and even outright hatred are aspects of sports from high school to the professional level. The two Dodgers fans, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, who attacked Stow, had confessed to the crime and were charged this past February, after originally denying involvement. Sanchez will serve four more years in prison, while Norwood’s jail time is almost over. Yet, Stow was left with severe brain trauma and a permanent disability that will require 24-hour assistance for the rest of his life. While an extreme case, many Americans are aware of serious animosity and hatred within the realm of sports.
When hatred manifests and spills over into a home environment, it can lead to domestic abuse and battery, it can even be fatal. Sadly, the news on any given day is filled with the stories of hatred leading to serious altercations and outright violence. Picking current on-line news stories, readers can learn about Keyshawn Johnson, the former N.Y. Jets football team’s wide receiver and current ESPN analyst, who was recently arrested for domestic violence. Or, a truly tragic story over the weekend reveals a shocking story of the ex-NYPD cop, Kevin Canty, who confessed to shooting his wife10 times with a 9-mm. pistol for her infidelity. Anger from hatred exploding in the home can be incredibly destructive.
Could the political arena be free from such hatred and violence? Most American people are not so naïve and even people who are even slightly politically aware know better. Since the beginning of political differences, history is filled with stories of political rivalries and hatred that flared up during political disputes, and it would be seen in the context of hatred between rivals for power. One of the earliest classical examples in U.S. history is the dispute between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, with Hamilton being shot to death in a duel. Yet, because there is currently a black man that is president, the opposition or hatred of this politician’s policies is accepted as “racism” and not political rivalry. Ridiculous!
When intelligent and successful members of the black community like Herman Cain, or Col. Allen West, or Dr. Benjamin Carson, stand up and speak out against Obama’s politics, the message spread to members of the black community is that these blacks are not the right kind of black folks to represent the blacks. Or, they are told the Democrat Party only represents the best interest of the black community. When members of the black clergy stand up to protest President Obama’s stand on abortion, atheistic and agnostic members of the Democrat Party stress how the black religious leaders are so out of touch with “reality.” Cries of “racism” do not work when racial differences do not exist.
Although Barack Hussein Obama made history by becoming the first black president in the United States, he does not need to use race as a shield or a weapon. Yet, because he is a politician, he seems to find ample opportunities to do so. Despite whether Obama really believes his accusations or not, it seems that he is intelligent enough to realize that many oppose him not because of the color of his skin, but because of the content of his character and the nature of his policies. Nevertheless, to insinuate that those who oppose him are racists may be a clever political device, but such a tactic runs directly counter to the core of what Martin Luther King, Jr. taught about racism.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. defined racism as a disease of the heart. Whether by subtle implication or by vociferous accusation, calling people racists for their opposition to the policies rolling out of Washington is fundamentally divisive; they do not heal wounds, and they do not seem intended to do so. Such efforts play upon the resentment and the most destructive of human sentiments: hatred. Such efforts do not solve any disease of the heart. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to fight racism through love since it was a disease of the human heart. It was not cholesterol that was causing the blockage of the flow of love – it was bigotry, prejudice, and hatred against human beings that was the source of the disease.
When someone is suffering from a disease, it normally does not help in the healing process to accuse and condemn the person suffering. It does not take a doctor to comprehend that. If Dr. King’s assessment is correct, and racism is a disease of the heart, then all accusations, all the implications, or all the blatant uses of the label of racist or racism will not correct any racial divisions. In Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, he envisioned a better dream: “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood… to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” United We Stand!