Thursday, June 16, 2011

Baseball, Jack Robinson, Herman Cain, and These Modern Times

Well, I had an interesting conversation on the way to work this morning about politics, as usual, and all the GOP contenders for the nomination. Herman Cain came up, and we agreed that it would be great to have him as a President, although we disagreed on the 'why" a little.

For the most part, we like him, his ideas, his experiences, and his persona. I joke that it would be great to see the first Black President a Republican (hey, this idea the BHO isn't "black enough" comes from the LA Times) and that I'd want to vote for him to be "a part of history," but the reality is that it would be a great chance to smash that tired liberal notion that conservatives (and Republicans) are a bunch of bigot sexist homophobes. Electing a black Republican would show that it's the ideas that matter (the content of a person's character, if you will) and not the skin.

See, that's a charge that has really bothered me. I know in my heart that I am not racist, bigoted, sexist or homophobic, I was raised right and have lived right. I have walked the walk, I have experienced every race and creed with openness, I have judged people as individuals and not as members of some "group" as defined by others. I maintain relationships with people of all ideological, racial, and sexual persuasions and refused to be accused of bigotry by people that don't know me merely because they have some prejudicial view of "conservatives" or "republicans."

I would suggest to you that the real bigots live on the other side of the ideological aisle, they are the ones that see racism, sexism, and homophobia in every turn, that judge people by the color of their skin and not by the content of their character.

I suggest to you that the Great Society as instituted by the Johnson Administration has hurt black people in this country, if only in the attitude that they must be helped.  Have you seen what Harlem was like, when it was a bunch of successful businesses run by entrepreneurs who just happened to also be black? Before the government started "helping?"

The episode of Ken Burn's Baseball about the 1940's was on last night, and one thing was clear to me. In overcoming racism, we have come so far. I ached to hear the things that Jack (as his wife called him) Robinson endured as the pioneer in the Majors. To see a death threat from my hometown, that if he entered Crosley Field he was dead, pains me immeasurably. Yet, I know that this couldn't happen again, that kids today would be shocked and appalled that grownups acted this way, and that is fantastic. I also see the folks that used to be dressed so well going to games, and long for that type of self-esteem, that type of notion that "if I am going out in public, I must be dressed well," even as I sit at work in jeans....

Jack Robinson fought for his country only to return to the kind of racism that wouldn't let him sit in the front of the bus, and before Rosa Parks, he refused. The gas station owner that wouldn't let him use the restroom changed his mind when Jack turned and stopped the minor league team from pumping gas from this man. At risk of losing a hundred dollar sale (and future sales to this baseball team and its bus), he relented, as did many subsequent gas station owners, as told by Buck Owens.  That he was chosen as "the guy" because of this and because he had the fortitude to withstand all the garbage thrown his way is amazing, and how he handled it is a lesson for the ages, as, like Gandhi in some respects, he showed that that resistance (not exactly passive) moved many mountains.

So, if we moved Jack Robinson in a time machine to 2012, who would he vote for?

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