Sad, sad, sad. When one of the greats becomes blinded by ideology.

Posted on April 9, 2014 by


Sorry I can’t get the video to embed directly, but please watch this first.

Hank Aaron is a true American hero, for Americans of all races and classes.  As Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said

Aaron “set the home-run record the old-fashioned way” and added “You will always be the home run king of all time.”

There are no allegations (that I’m aware of) that Mr. Aaron performed any of his accomplishments except by God-given talent and exceptional hard work.  And he did at time when racism was a significant factor in American society, and no doubt endured considerable pressure to perform and exceed Babe Ruth’s home run record.  I remember the day that Mr. Aaron broke the record; not only that, I remember the many days preceding it when it became apparent to all that the Babe’s record was going to fall.  As a die-hard Yankees fan, I didn’t really want that to happen, but even at 10 years old I understood what that would mean for America that a black man was the undisputed greatest home run hitter ever–something much bigger than the Babe’s record mattered.  It was a time of pride for the nation, just another sign of the progress that was painfully, slowly progressing.

But today’s ceremony recognizing the 40th anniversary of his great accomplishment fills me with the opposite emotion–one of sadness.  I’m sad because we have come so far in race relations and yet one of our greatest heroes suggests that Republicans are nothing more than today’s KKK, since they oppose Mr. Obama’s policies.

“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,” Aaron told USA Today Sports.  Aaron continued: “The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

I don’t doubt that there are Republicans (and Democrats) that oppose Mr. Obama simply because he is black.  Yet I strongly believe that this is a minority position within the country–I see no evidence that racism is even a significant cause of opposition to Mr. Obama.  Why can he not at least concede that a significant number of American’s disagree with the president based on his policies?  Does he think that if Hillary Clinton were president pursuing the same policies as Mr. Obama that the Republicans would be much more agreeable with her because she is white?  Really?  And if Republicans are just opposed to someone because they are black, why do Republicans embrace Clarence Thomas, or Ben Carson among others?

To Mr. Aaron I would ask the following questions.  Which Republican made Mr. Obama say repeatedly “if you like your doctor, you can keep him (or her)”?  Or “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it”?  Which Republican had anything to do with Mr. Obama’s continued weak foreign policy in the middle east and abroad?  Which Republican encouraged his major economic initiative this year to be the minimum wage–which hurts minorities (especially blacks) the worst?  Which Republican forced Mr. Obama to nominate two more Supreme Court justices who do not support the right to life?  Which Republican urged the President to first decry the IRS targeting of the tea party, and now calls it a “phony scandal”?  Which Republican told Mr. Obama to say he’d get to the bottom of the Benghazi scandal and make those responsible pay and then told him to do neither?  Of course we could go on and on and on.  Most people’s differences with Mr. Obama are due to his policies, not the color of his skin.  For Mr. Aaron to suggest otherwise demeans him, and I for one don’t want my impression of Mr. Aaron to fall–he did too much, for too many, for his legacy to be tainted by blind ideology.