Of Major League Baseball’s Midsummer Classic taking place in Phoenix following the passage of SB 1070, the New York Times’ Jonathan Mahler opined Friday that “Arizona’s anti-immigrant fervor is still very much alive, and Bud Selig is putting his Latino players in the impossible position of having to choose between showing solidarity to their people or to the game that has enriched them even as they have enriched it.” Reacting poorly to any hint of a boycott, Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin argues “the sometimes unhappy history of the Hispanic experience in baseball (which was never as bad as the discrimination suffered by African-Americans) would not justify the sport intervening in the Arizona case.”
Some Hispanic players may disagree with the Arizona law, but does that mean all of baseball must agree or be guilty of racism, as Mahler seems to imply. Most Americans support enforcement of laws against illegal immigration, including the Arizona statute. If baseball were to take sides on one side of that battle, what would Mahler have players do who disagree with a boycott of Arizona?
Mahler’s attempt to analogize the disagreement over the Arizona law with the breaking of baseball’s color line also doesn’t hold up. As he himself notes, this is the 100th anniversary of the first Hispanics to play in the big leagues. Nor is there any comparison between Jackie Robinson and the late Roberto Clemente, who was a great player and died tragically but does not deserve the same place in both baseball and American history Robinson deserves.
Americans can disagree about what should be done about illegal immigration, but the best place to hash that out is in the halls of legislatures, the courts and most of all the ballot boxes. Despite the desire of the Times to incite division and anger, baseball should stand clear of that fight.
So there you have it, Adrian Gonzalez and Carlos Beltran. By expressing displeasure with legislation that encourages racial profiling / hate mongering, you’re not actually standing up for civil rights, you’re “inciting division and anger”. And since your path to success in the USA hasn’t been nearly as harsh (in Tobin’s view, anyway) as the experience of baseball’s black pioneers, what could you possibly have to complain about? CONTINUE ENTERTAINING AND STFU.
Had Tobin been writing in 1936, I can only assume he’d have encouraged Jesse Owens to high five Adolf Hitler. “Americans can disagree about what should be done about the rise of The Third Reich, but the best way to hash that out is thru international diplomacy, not in the track & field arena.”