On the 40th anniversary of his record breaking home run Hank Aaron spoke about baseball and race with USA Today. It was an entirely appropriate subject from a remarkable hero in sports and civil rights. However, Mr Aaron made a fundamental error regarding American politics.
“We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics. 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.
No Mr Aaron. The reason the President’s foot is stuck in the mud is that the President is a Democrat and the Republicans disagree with him on the way the country should be run. In fact Republicans and Democrats have disagreed with one another for a very long time. One could consider them as opposing teams.
Not every pitcher who played against you, Mr Aaron, was a racist, though some of them may have been. Not every player who was on your team was in favor of desegregation. You were on opposing teams, playing baseball, competing to see who was the best team irrespective of race. Not every Cardinal fan that day wanted you to strike out because of some deep racial animosity in their heart. Many of them simply wanted their team to win.
Personally, Mr Aaron, its this kind of racial demagoguery that is hurting us. We are moving forward, but this constant looking backward or always applying a racial lens makes us blind to the modern obstacles we keep stumbling on. Far be it for me to argue with an accomplished baseball player and civil right’s champion but Sir, I disagree.
We disagree; we are going to disagree. We are going to argue and shout and debate and squabble and bicker and disagree. Why should it be assumed that the reasons for our disagreement are based on race when we have always been rooting for our ideas and our home team long before our rival’s new star player took the field?