Hank Aaron: Still Hammerin’

40 years later, Hank is still hammering home the truth.

 

“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. We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country. The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

~ Hank Aaron

There must be a whistle going off somewhere only conservatives and Republicans can hear that reveals Aaron really was saying, “President Obama is left with his foot in the stuck in the mud from all of the [racist] Republicans [everywhere, but especially in Congress] with the [racist] way he’s treated.”

That has to be the only answer, because there was NOTHING in Aaron’s remarks that put all the Republicans in America in general or in Congress on blast as being racists which is a term Aaron never used.

It would seem crying wolf about racism is not a malady confined only to The Left.  I guess all those right-wingers losing their shit missed the part where Aaron said, “We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements,” huh?

Another baseball legend, Frank Robinsonspoke to USA Today in defense of Aaron.

It is 2014, we have twice elected a black president, and Jackie Robinson is an American icon, celebrated annually on April 15. And yet: Hank Aaron is receiving hate mail, which reminds us that black people are still held to a different standard, when it comes to expressing strong opinions on race.

American Hero. Then and now.

“Hank Aaron is a black man,” Frank Robinson told me on Tuesday, after helping to light the Empire State Building in Dodger blue to honor the 67th anniversary of another Robinson’s debut. “He only spoke his mind. I have seen and heard other people in this country say worse things, and they don’t get hate mail. It shows you we still have a ways to go.”

Robinson — a Hall of Fame player, the first African-American manager and MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Development — did not list those “worse things,” but here are a few: Tea Party rallies where people hoist signs showing a Hitler mustache on President Obama, activists sending around emails portraying the president as a monkey, Braves fans calling Aaron the N-word, repeating what the home run king endured 40 years ago.

On Tuesday, USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale, who wrote the original piece, clarified that Aaron did not directly compare Republicans to the Ku Klux Klan. “Never in our 50-minute conversation did Aaron suggest anyone critical of President Obama is racist,” Nightengale wrote. “Never did he compare the Republican Party to the Ku Klux Klan. . . . Simply, Aaron stated that we are fooling ourselves if we don’t believe racism exists in our country.”

Whether or not Aaron meant to invoke the KKK, the ensuing hate mail is a larger story. The Braves received hundreds of calls, emails and letters eviscerating Aaron, according to USA Today. “Hank Aaron is a scumbag piece of (expletive) (racial slur),” read one of the notes.

I asked Robinson the obvious follow-up to his initial comment: Are we still in a place in our society where a black person makes controversial comments, and is more vulnerable to vicious criticism than a white person?

“I think so,” he said. “We have made great progress, but we still have a different standard. And it’s too bad. But we keep fighting, and we keep going forward, and taking the cause forward.”

I’m not even a fan of baseball. Don’t like the game and don’t watch it, but I know what men like Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson have done for both their sport and to make this country a less blind, less backward and less racist place than it has been.   The fact that Aaron’s wisdom prompts such knee-jerk reactions and bigoted invective is proof of how blind, backward and racist America remains.

There is nothing anyone can say that in way diminishes Aaron’s standing as the man who broke Babe Ruth‘s home run record and was reviled, vilified and had life threatened by bigots every step of the way who could not their tiny little minds around the idea that a “nigger” could surpass the legendary Bambino.

It is laughable that someone tapping on their tablet or laptop can even slightly tarnish the luster of Aaron’s accomplishments. This is a man who took the worst the most hostile racists could throw at him and emerged triumphant and his pride intact.   This is a country that still bitterly resents whenever a Black man speaks the truth about race instead of what they think is the truth.

Aaron was asked why for 40 years he has kept all the hate mail he receives.

“To remind myself that we are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record. If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.”

Can a brother get a “boom shakalaka” from the choir?

The mouth-foaming frenzy of Aaron’s conservative critics proves him to be a prophet. He’s still hammering home the truth.

Speak softly and beat some sense into a bigot’s skull with some wood.

 

The Little Murders Matter Too.

Hadiya is gone, but she must not be forgotten.

Hadiya is gone, but she must not be forgotten.

The one thing I want to make clear is while I’m in pain over the murder of Justin Davis by Michael Dunn, I’m not in any more pain than I am over the death of a Hadiya Pendelton and the distressingly long list of Black people who meet their ends not at the hands of a trigger-happy Dunn or George Zimmerman, but through random acts of  cruel and destructive street violence.

Hadiya Pendleton was the innocent victim of gang warfare. President Obama mentioned her in his State of the Union address.

CBS 2′s Jim Williams talked to Hadiya’s parents, who despite their grief have been very busy in the past year. January 29th is an anniversary Cleo and Nate Pendleton dread.

Cleo Pendleton, Hadiya’s mother, called it “the darkest day of our lives.”

“I don’t look forward to the 29th at all,” said Hadiya’s father, Nate Pendleton.

“I’m afraid of the 29th because I remember what it felt like last year,” Cleo said.

One year ago Wednesday, their daughter Hadiya was shot to death near her high school. The 15-year-old honor student was the victim of alleged gang members who fired into a crowd.

“We grieve always. Talking to you, we’re grieving. Talking about our baby is sad because it’s in the past tense,” said Cleo Pendleton.

The Pendletons will mark the anniversary at an after-school assembly with Hadiya’s classmates at King College Prep High School, which has been decked out in purple – Hadiya’s favorite color.

Trayvon Martin’s parents.

I’m angry and I’m hurt, but not more angry and hurt than I am when the 11:00 news is on and there’s yet another shooting and yet another dead body on the South side of the city where I live.   I’ve written thousands upon thousands upon thousands about Black boys and Black girls and Black men and Black women and Black children who met premature and senseless ends at the hands of someone who looks like them.

To limit my outrage to White killers and Black victims or fatal encounters with cops marginalizes and trivializes the little murders that aren’t front page news, don’t spark marches or soul-searching speeches and commentaries or shake our collective consciences.   Every murder matters to somebody and it shouldn’t take an angry racist like Michael Dunn to make Justin Davis matter to me.

In 2012, USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham wrote, “Taking on this problem is no civil rights photo op. It’s a campaign that could last as long as the U.S. military action in Afghanistan — America’s longest war. But the payoff for solving it would be huge. It could stabilize black communities…most important, a campaign to end these murders will save the lives of the thousands of blacks who are killed by other blacks each year, an effort that currently lacks the intensity of the call for justice for Trayvon Martin.”

Had Justin died from a bullet fired by a brother instead of a bigot would his death mean any less to me?   If Black life isn’t valued and treasured and protected among each other we can hardly be shocked when it is not valued by anyone else.

I grieve for every deplorable death in my community..  The tragedy of a murdered Black child is not magnified exclusively by the White skin of their killer.

We can do better.  We must do better.  Nothing less than our the future of the race is at stake and when our children are lost to  We can spare some family the agony the families of Hadiya, Justin and Trayvon live with every day.

To paraphrase Joseph Stalin, every kid’s death is a tragedy.  The fact we don’t know all their names should not make them only a statistic.

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Michele Bachmann is Sarah Palin with a work ethic.

These are not the eyes of a rational person.

Another week, another crazy-ass Republican candidate gets in the race. Oooooo…and check this one out. She’s smart. She’s a lawyer. She’s a formidable fundraiser.

She’s also out of her damn mind.

Michele “Batshit” Bachmann is Sarah Palin with a work ethic. So she came in second behind Mitt Romney in the “debate” this week. Big damn whoop. Look at the other contenders. Pawlenty, Gingrich, Paul, Santorum and Cain. That’s not exactly the Miami Heat line-up the GOP is throwing out there.

She got through the event without saying anything grandly stupid or eating her own foot on live television. I’m so impressed. She did however mangle her answer on DADT when she said she as President she would ask the Commander(s) in Chief what they think should be done (uh, that would be you, dumb ass).

There seems to be a tendency to inflate the awesomeness of the Republican field and not their staggering mediocrity and extremism. Goofballs like Bachmann wouldn’t even win their own home state in an election. How formidable is that? It’s like Mitt the Millionaire joking how he was unemployed too. Haw haw. What a laff riot that Mittens is!

Problem is when you look at the two ex-governors, one ex-Senator, one ex-Speaker of the House and a ex-CEO of a pizza company standing at the podiums in New Hampshire this week it dawned on me only Batshit Bachmann and Paul actually had a job. A lot of these Republicans are running for the presidency so they can get back to work. Lazy slobs!

Bachmann’s not running for president. Not really, because she knows her record is too far out of the mainstream to appeal to voters in a general election.  She’s a scary woman with scary views and no matter how many times she mentions her 23 foster children, it won’t change that.  Bachmann is well positioned to be on the bottom of a  Republican ticket, not the top of it.

She’s running for second place for when someone like Mittens or Pawlenty needs to shore up their Tea Party support. Even John Boehner knew better than to give Bachmann a leadership role in the House though she badly wanted one. There’s no place for her to go in the House as Boehner doesn’t want her in a leadership position.  Even he’s afraid of Bachmann’s extremism.

If she increases her national profile high enough she could still get out of the presidential race in time and challenge Minnesota’s senior Senator Amy Kloubuchar for her seat or run again for her own Congressional seat. What’s she got to lose from raising her national profile a bit? It paid off big for Palin so it’s a savvy play.

But I’m not yet ready to declare it a winning play.

What? Me crazy?

USA Today was part of the sniveling chorus of media approval that was charmed and amazed by Bachmann’s performance describing her as “lively, confident” and “personable.”

Well, here’s my opinion…

Michele Bachmann is fucking batshit-crazy.
Michele Bachmann is fucking batshit-crazy.
Michele Bachmann is fucking batshit-crazy.

And oh yeah….Michele Bachmann is fucking batshit-crazy.

That’s my opinion and it stands…

Being born with ovaries instead of testicles shouldn’t make you more susceptible to criticism and it shouldn’t make you impervious to criticism either. I say Mrs. Bachmann is fucking batshit crazy because of the things she says, the positions she supports, and the things she does that in my opinion make this country a worse, not a better place.

Am I trying to “diminish” Bachmann?  Why, yes, I am. I really don’t want her anywhere near the U.S. Senate or the Oval Office. She’s terrible as a member of the House of Representatives. She would be a total catastrophe in higher office where she could really wreak havoc with her homophobic, xenophobic, extremist views.

Bachmann gets no pass from me. I have both criticized her stances while expressing grudging admiration for her political acumen and skills. Being a woman doesn’t make her a soft target for my scorn and it doesn’t place her off-limits either.

Bachmann wants to be a player. Fine. It’s a free country. But the notion that she can’t be criticized is ridiculous. It’s just a different kind of sexism. Hey, you wouldn’t hit a girl would you?

She’s in politics. She can take the slings and arrows. This is hardball, not softball. You play the game and you take the same hits as everybody else.

Even if you happen to be a woman.