My second piece for The Umpires is up today, be kind and give it a read.
Earlier this week a co-worker told me that I should be “glad” that the young man, whom we’ll refer to as “The Saudi Marathon Man,” was racially profiled by the Boston police and the federal authorities. He told me that racial profiles and stereotypes were borne of “statistics” – that if we were to “look at the numbers,” the odds were high that the perpetrator(s) of the attacks at the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon were “one of those types.”
“Tell me that again the next time I’m at the airport,” I told him.
“You should be proud to be racially profiled. It’s the only thing that keeps us safe in this country.”
I then asked him if he had ever been the victim of racial profiling, and he – a white man – recounted a story in which he was the victim of “discrimination.” It was 1978, and he was lost, driving in a “bad neighborhood” in Jersey City with his future wife, when he was stopped by police who had mistook him for a drug-dealer. That’s it. No detention. No interrogation. He was pulled over and subsequently let go, and yet this story clearly still bothers him, even 35 years later.
I could understand his frustration, after all, this sort of thing has happened to me before, but the only thing I could think of responding with was, “Now imagine if that happened to you all the time.”
Since 9/11 we’ve all been trained in the practice of “If you see something, say something.” In other words: if you see something suspicious, alert the authorities. But what if you are consistently that something suspicious? What if it’s your friend, or your roommate, or your brother or sister? Are we supposed to be “proud” to live in a xenophobic nation which discriminates against its citizens based on skin color? Are we supposed to be “proud” of our public humiliation at baseball games and concerts and train stations?
Is this the tax millions of Americans are forced to pay for looking superficially different or believing in an alternate divine being?
In today’s society, white privilege it isn’t just about access and wealth and opportunity, it isn’t just about being able to do whatever the fuck it is you want to do, it’s about specific freedoms which white Americans are afforded that others are not: the freedom from persecution and the freedom from discrimination. In a nation in which the government – and the media – practices in the otherization of so-called “minority” races, white Americans are free to live without the fear of being considered a criminal because a suspect shares their skin-tone.
That our first instinct following an attack is to hope and pray that it wasn’t someone who looks like us – and that yours isn’t – says all you need to know about how we are each perceived within our own country.
The difference between White America and Brown America is that, in White America, you fear terrorism because you fear death; in Brown America, we fear terrorism because we fear being considered a terrorist. We fear being detained for hours/days/weeks/years without cause. We fear hate and vitriol toward our people and our religions. We fear attacks on our houses of worship. We fear being pushed onto subway tracks. We fear hellfire raining on our towns and villages in Pakistan and Yemen. We fear Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck, and Michele Bachmann, and Matt Drudge and the Ghost of Andrew Breitbart.
The difference between White America and Brown America is that we fear all of them, but we don’t fear you. We know that you don’t hate Muslims. We know that you don’t indiscriminately hate people with dark skin. We know that, when Timothy McVeigh or Terry Nichols or Ted Kaczynski or James Holmes or Adam Lanza murder innocent Americans, or when the Westboro Baptist Church burns the Qur’an, we shouldn’t view all whites, or all Christians, with suspicion. We know that Mississippi shouldn’t be “turned into a parking lot.” We know and understand that a few loud and crazy people are not indicative of an entire race or religion.
Whatever our faith, whatever our race, we all follow the same ethical code: do unto others… And, yet, somehow, throughout American history – slavery, the Trail of Tears, Japanese internment, the Patriot Act – we’ve seen this Golden Rule be disregarded entirely when it could benefit the racial hegemony of white Americans.
The difference between White America and Brown America, then, is that, in White America, rules don’t apply.
I have nothing to say. I’m never one to mince words, and I’ve always been someone who has something to say about everything – if not a 3,000 word essay, at least a 140-character tweet – but today? Today I have nothing. It’s not out of my being speechless, but, rather, because what can I possibly say today that I haven’t repeated ad nauseum over the years?
When I first heard the news on the radio, I was shocked, but it was more shock from horror and sadness – there’s absolutely nothing shocking about the fact that something like this actually happened. To be honest, I’m mostly shocked that something like this hasn’t happened more often (which, I suppose, is a testament to the job done by the sorely underappreciated men and women who work so hard to keep our country safe). If this sounds familiar, it’s because the events at today’s Boston Marathon elicited the same reaction as those of Aurora, Colorado last July.
My sister got married yesterday. Watching the news coverage this afternoon with her and my new brother-in-law, she looked over and told me, “It’s this kind of shit that makes us not want to have kids. I don’t want to bring a child into this world.” Was she being dramatic? Sure. But she’s not alone.
We now live in a society attuned to disaster, and perpetually fearing the worst – never expecting it to actually happen, but always preparing, and never being surprised when it does. The abstract ideas of terror or hate – whether expressed by domestic terrorists or foreign enemies – can never be defeated: there will always be that one asshole who thrives on your pain.
I have nothing to say today, because, right now, I feel like Admiral Fitzwallace on The West Wing: I can’t tell when it’s peacetime and wartime anymore. Has it gotten to the point where we’ve become so complacent in our fear-based, wartime society, that wartime has actually become peacetime? Have we simply accepted periodic attacks on American lives as the status quo? When did shock and horror and grief and fear become the default status of the American psyche? When did this become normal?
The problem is that I have no fucking idea, and it’s driving me crazy. For the first time in my life I have no opinion on a horrific tragedy, and it’s because I have no answers.
I know that I’m glad to be living in a country where public acts of terror happen once every few months, rather than once everyday. I know that “terrorism” isn’t a term which is mutually exclusive to the Arabo-Muslim world. I also know that whoever did this – whether it was one person or a group of people, whether they were black, white or brown – was not born this way. I know that people are inherently good.
I know this because it’s something I see every single day; it’s something we all see, even in these darkest moments. We see it in the bravery our first responders, in the everyday Bostonians and in the marathon runners helping out in whatever way they could. We see it in the doctors and nurses and everyone working at the greatest hospitals in the world.
In the coming days and weeks we’re going to learn who performed this despicable act of cowardice. We’re going to learn how they did it, why they did it, who they were working with. We’re going to learn about their past, their family, their education, their socioeconomic status.
Don’t let this scumbag become the story. Make it the policemen, firemen, security and EMT’s on the scene. Make it the marathon runners who crossed the finish line and continued running to Mass General to donate blood. Make it John Eligon of the New York Times, who ran the marathon and then co-wrote this. Make it the amazing medical professionals of the city of Boston. Make it former New England Patriot Joe Andruzzi, who carried wounded victims to help. Make it the resilience of the men, women, and children who make Boston one of my absolute favorite cities in the world – despite how I may feel about the Red Sox.
So why would you want to bring a child into this world? Because the vast majority of the people they will encounter will be these kind and beautiful souls. Because one asshole shouldn’t ruin the party. Because these acts of kindness make a seemingly dark world light. Because these people provide hope in a seemingly hopeless world.
I’m only doing this because I like having this kind of stuff on the record. (Keep in mind that the awards are picks and not predictions.)
AL Rookie of the Year:
- Jackie Bradley, Jr.
- Wil Myers
- Leonys Martin
NL Rookie of the Year:
- Julio Teheran
- Oscar Taveras
- Adam Eaton
If I had to guess, I would say that the writers would vote for Myers over JBJ simply because I believe Tampa will make it to the playoffs and the Red Sox won’t. I also don’t think they’ll properly value what Bradley brings to the table defensively (see: Trout, Mike). I would have chosen Adam Eaton in the National League if it wasn’t for his injury. Teheran will have a full season, with great run support, an excellent outfield defense, and a full-season of Andrelton Simmons playing shortstop will probably save him a handful of runs – this will also give him a nice win total, which we know the BBWAA loves.
AL Cy Young:
- Justin Verlander
- Yu Darvish
- David Price
NL Cy Young:
- Stephen Strasburg
- Clayton Kershaw
- Adam Wainwright
I would have voted for Verlander in 2012, and I can’t envision any scenario in which he doesn’t get hurt and doesn’t finish in the top two. Darvish is just a hunch that he’s going to break out in a big way. In the NL, Strasburg and Kershaw might as well be 1 and 1A – I could see them going 1-2 for the foreseeable future. Wainwright is going to earn his new contract in a big way this season.
- Jose Bautista
- Mike Trout
- Miguel Cabrera
- Jason Heyward
- Bryce Harper
- Joey Votto
Honestly, I could put all six of those guys in any order and be confident in the pick. I’m willing to bet that Harper wins it over Heyward because he’ll bat third (while Heyward bats 2nd) and will have more RBI opportunities. As for the American League, it just feels too predictable to go for Trout or Cabrera, and I think the Toronto offense is gonna put up some huge numbers this season, and Jose Bautista will be the beneficiary.
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Tampa Bay Rays*
- New York Yankees
- Boston Red Sox
- Baltimore Orioles
- Detroit Tigers
- Cleveland Indians
- Kansas City Royals
- Chicago White Sox
- Minnesota Twins
- Oakland Athletics
- Texas Rangers*
- Anaheim Angels
- Seattle Mariners
- Houston Astros
I can’t picture the Yankees finishing higher than 3rd place in the American League East – too much has to go perfectly right that the odds are heavily against them making the playoffs. I think it’s possible all five AL East teams finish over .500. And maybe I’m crazy, but I’m not as high on the Texas Rangers as many others – their rotation (other than Yu Darvish) is fairly unspectacular, and they lost quite a few arms in the bullpen. That’s all without mentioning that their outfield isn’t great (Nelson Cruz is trending in the wrong direction), and that they plan on having Lance Berkman bat 3rd. Despite all of that, I’m still picking them to win the second Wild Card spot, if only because I believe Anaheim’s pitching is that bad. It’s also entirely possible that Cleveland (not Kansas City) pulls a Baltimore and makes a run towards the Wild Card, and Kansas City’s poor record will lead to Dayton Moore and Ned Yost losing their jobs. I also don’t see Houston being nearly as bad as everyone thinks – they’ll be the worst team in baseball, but it won’t be historic.
- Washington Nationals
- Atlanta Braves*
- Philadelphia Phillies
- New York Mets
- Miami Marlins
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Cincinnati Reds*
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Chicago Cubs
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- San Francisco Giants
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- San Diego Padres
- Colorado Rockies
The National League is absolutely stacked this year. It’s incredibly difficult to leave San Francisco out of the playoffs, and I had high hopes for Arizona until all of their injuries this spring. The Milwaukee Brewers were sneakily the senior circuit’s best offense last year, and I get the feeling they’ll only get better in 2013 – I could see them or Arizona making a run. The Phillies will probably end up trading Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay and they’ll still finish with a better record than the Mets and Marlins.
St. Louis Cardinals over Tampa Bay Rays in seven games.
I’m not sure why more people aren’t as bullish on the St. Louis Cardinals as I am. Their lineup is loaded, they have a strong rotation with a bonafide ace, and their bullpen is filled with a nice mix of flamethrowers and junkballers who get hitters out in a myriad of ways. They also have the best farm system in baseball, and young guys like Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong and Joe Kelly are all going to make significant contributions. It’s also because of this system, and because of the versatility of guys like Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig, that, if any of their regulars are injured mid-season, the team won’t miss a beat. These are all the same reasons why I chose Tampa Bay in the American League. What puts St. Louis over the top will be their ability to absorb some salary – if the Indians fall out of contention, we’ll probably be seeing Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop sometime this summer, and there’s an outside chance they could even pull off a blockbuster for Troy Tulowitzki (they’re the only team who can). Even without making a deal for a stud, the Cardinals’ organizational depth is what will separate them from the pack during this marathon of a season.
Happy baseball, folks.
So, I’m pleased to say that I’ve joined up with some friends – and by “friends” I mean “people I only know through the Internet” – at their blog The Umpires. I’ll be providing some original content for them from time to time, I assume on sports. It’s a great young site and you should definitely check it out. You should also follow them on Twitter.
I’ll still be writing here as well, though – probably my same old usual lefty political garbage that the few of you who actually read this are used to.
My first piece for The Umpires went live last night. It’s titled “Baseball Colonialism: is globalization ultimately bad for those who play the game?“. In it, I wonder whether or not baseball’s exploitation of young, poor Caribbean athletes is good for the game, and for those who play it. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to leave any feedback either there, here, on Twitter, Facebook, or via messenger owl, if you must.
Thanks for your support.