Archive | April, 2013

My Thoughts on Jackie Robinson Day

25 Apr

Before I jump into this blog entry, I wanted to express my thoughts and condolences to all those who are affected by the tragic events last week.  There were several tragic events last week including the Boston Marathon bombing, explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas as well as several shootings that happened last week.  I may write a blog post about this in the future, but I don’t feel like this week is the appropriate time to do so.

 

Last week, Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day; the day that Jackie Robinson made his major league debut.  You may ask, “Why am I writing a blog about a baseball player on a primarily political blog?”  The reason I am writing about Jackie Robinson is because his story isn’t just about baseball.  It goes well beyond that.  He was an important part of the Civil Rights movement.

I recently saw the movie 42.  It chronicles Jackie Robinson’s life in baseball.  It illustrated some of the challenges that he faced early in his baseball career.  Jackie Robinson wasn’t the first African-American to play, but he was the first to play in the modern era (Modern era being since 1900). He made his major league debut in 1947.  That was before the Selma marches, Martin Luther King’s, “I have a dream” speech, The Voting Rights Act signed under President Lyndon Johnson, and before the Supreme Court Case Brown vs. Board of Education.  When he made his major league debut in 1947 Jackie Robinson was entering uncharted territory.

Branch Rickey chose Jackie Robinson because he wanted someone who wasn’t just a good player, but was also tough.  Branch Rickey knew the heat he would take for signing Jackie Robinson was nothing compared to what Jackie Robinson would endure on the field.  Jackie Robinson faced opposition before he even took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Some of his own teammates voiced opposition with playing on the same team as him.   Eventually most of his team mates stood down.

One of the worst hecklers towards Jackie wasn’t from a fan, but from a manager and his players.  Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman shouted slurs at Jackie Robinson while he was batting.  Instead of intimidating Jackie, the plan backfired.  Jackie’s teammates rallied behind him.  Robinson faced the same racism from fans across baseball.  Jackie Robinson became good friends his rookie year with Hank Greenberg.  Hank Greenberg was the first Jewish baseball player, and like Robinson, faced racism.

I am a huge baseball fan, but I could not play the game professionally.  When you play major league baseball, there are many things going on around you.  You have to keep your mind focused on the game.  The thoughts going through a batter’s mind include, how the weather will effect playing the game, what kind of pitchers will I be facing; what is their specialty pitch, and what are the hitting conditions in the ball park I am playing in, among other things.  Now imagine trying to think about all that and more while you have racial epithets and taunting spewed your way.  Baseball isn’t an easy game as it is, but I don’t know how Jackie Robinson could have played the game with all that going on around him on and off the field. He opened the doors for not just African Americans, but for everyone.

Gun Control Update

10 Apr

There have been several developments recently on the current gun control debate.  Some states are taking steps to curb gun violence.  Despite recent developments in the Senate, I am still skeptical that anything will happen in the House of Representatives.  There is a glimmer of hope though.  Numerous reports are out today about a possible deal on background checks.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) have announced that they will support expanded background checks.  Joe Manchin has had NRA support in the past and received an A rating from the NRA. He even had a campaign ad where he shot the Cap and Trade bill.  Manchin, as with several other people, have changed their tone on the issue of gun control.  While I wish magazine clips and an assault weapons ban were included in this deal, I am happy to see some progress.  I commend Senator Manchin for working hard on a bill to help prevent another mass shooting, especially considering his past position on gun control.  He is still very much a pro-gun democrat, but he is doing what he thinks is necessary to help save lives.  There are people on Facebook that have called Manchin a Nazi for supporting background checks.  There’s nothing anti-2nd amendment or pro-Nazi about background checks.   While I think background checks are a huge first step, there is still a lot more that needs to be done before I am convinced that any gun control bill will pass both houses of congress.

The only opposition that is left to any new gun laws is the fringe part of the Republican Party and some Democrats in red states seeking re-election.  One of the arguments I have heard is that Democrats want to take guns away from everyone.  This is nonsense and paranoia.  It is also pure paranoia to say that we need guns because one day the government will come to arrest us where we live.  Nothing like that has happened before in this country and there is no reason to think it will happen now.  Every example where I have heard of something similar happening to that has been in another country.  If we do nothing (background checks, etc.) there will be more mass shootings.  That isn’t paranoia, that’s a fact.  It will keep happening until we do something about it.

We may not be able to stop all gun violence with what’s being proposed in Congress, but it will help stop mass shootings and make it harder for criminals to get weapons.  Either we do something now or it will take a tragedy even worse than the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut for us to do anything on a national level.  Are we going to do anything about gun violence, or are we just going to let it be a new normal?  If not the Sandy Hook shooting, what will it take for us to stop this epidemic?  How many more shootings are we going to let happen before we do something?  There is no reason to suggest that a simple background check will lead to the elimination of the 2nd amendment.  I personally support an assault weapons ban, but I would be more than happy with having universal background checks.  Although there has been much chaos in the last decade, I would hope that we as a country can do something when it comes to addressing the issue of gun violence.

Godwin’s Law and Politics

7 Apr

I never thought I would have to do this, but people have been rushing to the Hitler argument during debates.  The internet term for this is Godwin’s Law.  The term was coined by Michael Godwin.  It states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazi’s or Hitler approaches 1.”  (Look it up.  I promise I’m not making it up.)   I have unfortunately seen this in several debates I have had with people, mainly while debating gun control.  This isn’t isolated to only one side using it, but it is much more common on the right.  It has been used on the left over the issue of unions.  (People say that Hitler outlawed unions too)  This kind of nonsense is unacceptable during a debate.  It shows a complete lack of understanding of history and insensitivity to people who suffered during World War II.

I understand that gun control is a divisive issue, but there is no reason to compare people banning guns to Nazi Germany.  Even if you take away the offensiveness of the comparison, the argument makes no sense.  Anyone who has even a middle-school understanding of history should know that the Holocaust was not the result of victims not having guns.  You have to have a really twisted view of reality to think that way.  It is also a huge jump to suggest that by requiring background checks and banning assault weapons will eventually lead to everyone’s weapon or weapons taken away, and compare that to Nazi Germany.

There is no comparison between our leaders and Hitler.  People have compared both Obama and Bush to Hitler.  There is no comparison between a U.S. president and Hitler, just a lack of understanding of history.  Leaders who commit genocide (i.e. Milosevic), can be compared to Hitler.  I am by no means suggesting that this talk is dominating our political discussion, but there is certainly enough of it going around for me to discuss it.  It’s time for this talk to stop; we are a better country then that to be making these kinds of analogies.