Since comparing the GOP to the KKK last week, Hank Aaron has received letters filled with racial epithets addressed to the Atlanta Braves’ front office.
This is, of course, an exceedingly stupid thing to do. Of course, the people who did such a thing were filled with racial avarice in the first place and would have hated Hank Aaron whether or not he said anything. With that said, I don’t think Hank Aaron is above criticism. As I have shown, you can disagree with Aaron and still admire the things he’s done.
Interestingly, Bob Nightengale of USA Today who interviewed Aaron last week is now denying Aaron compared the GOP to the KKK:
Never in our 50-minute conversation did Aaron suggest anyone critical of President Obama is racist. Never did he compare the Republican Party to the Klu Klux Klan.
Simply, Aaron stated that we are fooling ourselves if we don’t believe that racism exists in our country. It’s simply camouflaged now. And yes, he feels sorry for his good friend, President Obama, and the frustrations he endures.
I hate to break it to Bob Nightengale, but when someone mentions in one breath about how Republicans treat Obama and then in the next breath says the difference between then and now is “back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts,” there is no other way but to describe Aaron’s analogy as odious. His comments are reminiscent of comments made in the past few days by Attorney General Eric Holder and Democratic Congressman Steve Israel. These three comments are all the more odious in the light of the actions of the former KKK leader who targeted a Jewish community center and nursing home killing three people scarcely 48 hours ago. The people with hoods kill.
It is true that racism will always exist in one form or another. But racism has nothing to do with the declining number of African-Americans participating in baseball nor did it have anything to do with the murder of Trayvon Martin (something Aaron also brought up in the interview with Nightengale) despite the efforts of Al Sharpton and NBC News. As for Obama, Hank Aaron can feel sorry for him all he wants, but being criticized by the opposition party comes with the territory. Every President between George Washington and George W. Bush was criticized severely and Obama is no different. But by attributing everything to racism, it has the effect of trivializing it and rendering it meaningless. This is dangerous because if racism is cried too often when the real thing comes along good people may see fit to ignore it.