When I wrote my tribute commemorating the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s 715th career home run last night, I was not aware of his comments likening Republicans, conservatives and others who disagree with President Obama to the KKK to which Larry Thornberry has drawn our attention.
While I still stand by my tribute, I am nonetheless saddened by Aaron’s remarks. Equating Republican criticism of President Obama to an organization which engaged in lynching is both unfair and unworthy of him. After all, George W. Bush bestowed
Aaron with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. Is Aaron telling us that Bush’s suit and tie represented a hood?
Judging by his comments, Aaron was displeased with a litany of things up to and including the fewer number of African-Americans playing MLB. In fact, he goes as far as to say “we don’t have any.” Well, methinks Adam Jones, Torii Hunter, Jayson Heyward, the Upton Brothers, Matt Kemp, Brandon Phillips, C.C. Sabathia, Howie Kendrick, Coco Crisp, Denard Span, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Delmon Young, Edwin Jackson, James Loney, LaTroy Hawkins and Cameron Maybin among others might disagree. Longtime Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington and new Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon might also beg to differ.
While it is true there is certainly a decline in the number of African-Americans playing in MLB, no one is keeping African-Americans out of baseball except African-Americans who find the NFL and NBA to be more lucrative career options.
I wasn’t named after Hank Aaron, but naturally I have long felt an affinity for him and will continue to do so. But when Aaron likens Republicans, conservatives, and anyone who disagrees in good faith with President Obama with the KKK, he swings and misses.