The 2011 All-Star Game was scheduled to be played in Phoenix. Nearly 30% of major league players - and roughly half of all minor leaguers - were born in Latin America. Shortly after Brewer signed the bill, the Major League Baseball Players Association issued a statement opposing the law and calling for its prompt repeal or modification, while also "consider[ing] additional steps necessary to protect the rights and interests of our members".
At the same time, many well-known players voiced their disapproval.
I'm opposed to it. How are you going to tell me that, me being Hispanic, if you stop me and I don't have my ID, you're going to arrest me? That can't be.(Pujols's manager, Tony LaRussa, supports the law.)
Heath Bell, the Padres' union representative, called the law "mind-boggling", and several of his San Diego teammates offered blunt assessments of the law.
Catcher Yorvit Torrealba:
This is racist stuff. It's not fair for a young guy who comes here from South America, and just because he has a strong accent, he has to prove on the spot if he's illegal or not. ... Why do I want to go play in a place where every time I go to a restaurant and they don't understand what I'm trying to order, they're going to ask me for ID first? That's bull. I come from a crazy country [Venezuela]. Now Arizona seems a little bit more crazy.Jerry Hairston:
It reminds me of seeing the old movies with the Nazis when they ask you to show your papers. It's not right. I can't imagine my mom - who's been a US citizen longer than I've been alive, who was born and raised in Mexico - being asked to show her papers.Adrian Gonzalez, a citizen of both the US and Mexico:
It's immoral. They're violating human rights. ... Are they going to pass out a picture saying "You should look like this and you're fine, but if you don't, do people have the right to question you?" ... If they leave it up to the players and the law is still there, I'll probably not play in the All-Star Game. ... I know it can't be done, but they should take spring training out of [Arizona] if it's possible.Yvonni Gallardo: "If the game is in Arizona, I will totally boycott."
Kansas City reliever Joakim Soria: "They could stop me and ask to see my papers. I have to stand with my Latin community on this." ... Detroit Tigers pitcher Jose Valverde agreed with that sentiment, as did Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista: "Hopefully, there are some changes in the law ... We have to back up our Latin communities."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he would boycott the ASG and sounded off on the law:
Once they have this in one state, every state will come out with the same stuff and that's going to be hard. And [immigrants] — I don't care what law you do – they're not going to leave. They came to make money, they came to work and they came to make this country better. ... Most are workaholics. This country can't survive without [them].
Cardinals reliever Miguel Batista has been a players union board member. He lives in Arizona and won a World Series with the Diamondbacks.
We need to all get informed; what is the basic basis of this law? Because I have an accent, you have a right to ask me for my papers? Because I'm not blonde with blue eyes? What do you actually base the stereotype on to have to ask me for my papers?Jorge Cantu, who has dual citizenship in the US and in Mexico, disagreed with the law, but did not think the game should be moved.
Enrique Morones, the former VP of Latino and Diversity Marketing for the San Diego Padres, worked hard to get the 2011 All-Star Game moved to another city. Morones is also the founder of Border Angels, an organization that leaves blankets, food, and water on the rough border terrain for people attempting to cross. Morones:
It's unbelievable to me that we want to celebrate the annual All-Star Game in the state of the anti-immigrant Minutemen, and the state where Sheriff Joe Arpaio breaking every civil and human right possible. You also have Nazis literally on the border of Arizona, and then you also have the Senate Bill 1070 ... So what does Major League Baseball say? Let's go celebrate an All-Star Game in that state. ... [I]f Bud Selig was the commissioner in the 1940s we never would have heard of Jackie Robinson.Arpaio plans on having a chain gang of female prisoners picking up trash outside the ballpark tomorrow night. This is another disturbing trend in the US, having forced labourers (slaves, in a sense) doing the jobs once held by unionized workers. Wisconsin is doing the same thing.
wrote that "Selig is the last man on the planet who would take a stand on anything. Especially a stand that would cost him or his fellow owners money ... Selig would play that game in Arizona if God Almighty came down from the heavens and commanded him to move it."
While Selig "continues to sponge himself luxuriantly in the spirit and memory of Jackie Robinson", he has been nearly mute on the Arizona issue for the past 14 months. His few comments have been incomprehensible:
Apparently all the people around and in minority communities think we're doing OK. That's the issue, and that's the answer. I told the clubs today: "Be proud of what we've done." They are. We should. And that's our answer. We control our own fate, and we've done very well.
Vivek Malhotra, the advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said SB 1070
is a watershed moment in modern America for its blatant disregard of America's most fundamental values. ... This law does nothing short of making all of its Latino residents, and other presumed immigrants, potential criminal suspects in the eyes of the law. It authorizes police officers to stop and ask people for their immigration papers based only on some undefined "reasonable suspicion" ... [H]ow do you know people are unauthorized to be in the United States just by looking at them?Malhorta noted the case of Julio Mora and his son, Julian Mora, who, before SB 1070 became law, were stopped and removed from their car by Maricopa County police on February 11, 2009, arrested, forcibly transported to a holding area, and detained for nearly three hours. Julio Mora is a lawful resident of Arizona and his son is a US citizen. Last week, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (headed by Joe Arpaio) was told to pay $200,000 to settle a discrimination claim brought by the Moras.
Hiroshi Motomura, a professor of law at UCLA:
No state may superimpose its own immigration enforcement regime if it decides that federal law isn't harsh enough. ... This ["reasonable suspicion"] standard gives institutional cover for selective immigration enforcement through racial and ethnic profiling...The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona in July 2010, claiming that the law interfered with immigration regulations "exclusively vested in the federal government". The lawsuit did not address any of the racial aspects. An April 2011 ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Department of Justice, holding that if an individual state (or states) adopted its own immigration laws, it would, in effect, mean that a state had established a foreign policy that might well be in opposition to the greater national policy. Circuit Judge John Noonan called that an "absurdity too gross to the entertained".
A week after Brewer signed SB 1070, she signed HB 2162 (in the hopes of quieting the firestorm of criticism and possible lawsuits), which amended the previous bill to state that law enforcement officials or agencies "may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution." (Well, that solves that, then, doesn't it? The original bill, with the added amendments in a different font colour, can be read here.)
As to that phrase "to the extent permitted", the US Supreme Court ruled in 1975 that race and color can be considered when trying to ascertain a person's citizenship: "The likelihood that any given person of Mexican ancestry is an alien is high enough to make Mexican appearance a relevant factor." And the Arizona Supreme Court agreed, in 1982, that "enforcement of immigration laws often involves a relevant consideration of ethnic factors".
On July 28, 2010, one day before SB 1070 was scheduled to take effect, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the law's most controversial provisions, while various legal challenges could be resolved.That ruling has led many people to believe the discriminatory aspects of the law have been eradicated.
Shortly after he was traded to the Red Sox, Adrian Gonzalez told ESPN's Gordon Edes that SB 1070 "has been tweaked a little, I hear, so it's a lot better than it was in the beginning." It was very disheartening to hear Gonzalez take back the strong words he spoke in April 2010 (my emphasis):
The first time I heard about that law, they told me the "Readers Digest" version, a really quick version, and I was, "Wow, I don't agree with it." The more I read I still didn't agree with it, and then the next day somebody came up saying there have been players who have said because of the law they might not play. I said that if players that I look up to and admire aren't going to play, then I'll follow suit, but I'm not going to be the one to set that precedent. But obviously it wasn't written that way. It came out and made it seem like I wouldn't play. Then I talked to the players' association about it. I'm a big part of the association. They were like, "Hey, we're going to ask everybody to play. It's still up to you if you want to play, but we're not going to get into the political end of it." ... If I'm invited to the All-Star Game, I'm playing.Gonzalez (a) implies that his principled stand against racism and bigotry was a misquote or distortion and (b) wished the media had accurately reported his mealy-mouthed stance.
If Gonzalez believes the law is wrong, and the proper thing to do is boycott the All-Star Game - as he said last year - he should not change his beliefs based on what Albert Pujols, for example, decides to do. And, as both Howard Zinn and Geddy Lee* would attest, Gonzalez will be taking a stand no matter what he does.
* - Zinn: "You can't stay neutral on a moving train." Lee: "If you chose not to decide, you still have made a choice."
Dave Zirin, the author of several books on politics and sports, and a columnist for The Nation, says that Gonzalez and the MLBPA are mistaken for thinking the worst is over. Brewer is banking that the conservative US Supreme Court will lift the injunctions and allow SB 1070 to be fully implemented. In addition, the law has inspired similar (or harsher) legislation in at least a half-dozen other states.
In January 2011, Mississippi passed SB 2179, which makes it a crime to be caught without immigration papers. Police can, "without warrant", arrest anyone "reasonably believed" to be in the country without papers.
In May 2011, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed HR 87, which gives state and local police the same powers as federal immigration officials - to arrest and jail suspicious looking people for not having the correct documentation when ordered, "Papers, please." While debating that bill, Senator Renee Unterman praised the cooperation between federal immigration officials and the Georgia police: "I see fewer foreigners driving around." There is now a shortage of immigrant labour in Georgia and crops are rotting in the fields. Government officials have tried (with varying degrees of success) to get unemployed ex-convicts to do the back-breaking work.
Two days after Deal signed HR 87, MLB held its annual Civil Rights Game in Atlanta. Oops! Selig invited musician Carlos Santana to speak at the festivities, a decision Selig likely regretted once Santana admonished the crowd: "The people of Arizona, and the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves". Because he had the termitity to speak about civil rights at the Civil Rights Game, Santana was booed.
Federal courts have enjoined portions of similar laws in Utah and Indiana. Other anti-immigrant laws make it illegal to transport undocumented people, so, as the New York Times recently editorialized, "a son could land in jail for driving his mother to the supermarket, or a church volunteer for ferrying families to a soup kitchen".
Earlier this year, Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce pushed for passage of SB 1611, which would blatantly violate the US Constitution by, among other things, revoking citizenship for US-born children of undocumented immigrants and denying children the right to public education if their parents could not produce a US birth certificate or naturalization papers. That bill was defeated, but Pearce, a hateful racist bastard, is not giving up.
It took me a while on 1070, too. I introduced it in '05, '06, '07, '08, '09 and 2010 before we had a governor that would sign it. And we've become the envy of this nation with 25 states writing legislation modeled after 1070.It is a fair bet that most readers of this blog have not heard of all of these bills. (The Mississippi law was news to me, as were the bits from the Times editorial.) Which is why speaking out against these inhumane laws is vitally important. Sadly, two Red Sox players - Gonzalez and David Ortiz - do not agree.
In late June, Michael Silverman of the Herald asked Gonzalez if the All-Star Game was an opportunity to speak out about SB 1070. Gonzalez said: No.
That's a government issue - we're baseball players, not politicians. ... The union has said "do whatever you want, you're on your own. If you want to speak your mind, you can, but it's a political issue, not a baseball issue."David Ortiz opposes SB 1070, but says players should not use the spotlight of the All-Star Game to speak out against the bill:
"Baseball is not related at all to politics," said Ortiz.Ortiz is completely and utterly wrong, and his words reveal a profound ignorance about Robinson's struggle, baseball's decades-long role in demanding social justice, and the many professional athletes who, on their own, are speaking out right now. His shoulder-shrugging and passive wishes that the right thing somehow magically happen, when repeated by millions of people, is how these virulently racist bills are being passed throughout the US.
Jackie Robinson was, he was reminded.
"I ain't Jackie Robinson," Ortiz said with a smile. "Sometimes, but remember that was something massive - not only one guy can go out there and act like he knows everything. That's something where you work as a group. ... There's nothing baseball can do about it right now ... It's not baseball's fault, or MLB's fault, that that thing is going on in Arizona. I personally think it's not fair. ... [H]opefully that thing goes away and everything goes back to normal."
The All-Star Game or the World Series - with its increased viewing audiences - is exactly the place to stand up. That should be self-evident. You don't ask your oppressors for permission to speak out against them. When you speak out, you go where the most people can see and hear you. Plus, this is not a general political grievance; the game is being played in the very state which passed the law!
As noted at the top of this post, many baseball players spoke out against SB 1070 last year when it was first in the news - and they did so, not as a group, but individually. Other non-baseball athletes have weighed in, as well:
Etan Thomas of the Atlanta Hawks, who has spoken at several anti-war rallies in Washington, DC, criticized Georgia bill HR 87:
[It] means they can pull anyone over at anytime and their only crime could be minding their business. That goes against everything this country should stand for. ... I applaud the thousands of people who gathered at the Georgia Capitol Thursday to protest this legislation. ... What if after the Oklahoma City Bombing they passed legislation allowing police to detain and question every young white male? That would correctly be interpreted as a violation of their civil rights. And just as this example seems completely absurd, so does detaining every person who looks like they could be Hispanic to see if they are legal or illegal. ... This law has no place in a democracy.Rashard Mendenhall of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Milwaukee Bucks guard Chris Douglas-Roberts were offended by the national orgasm over the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death. On Twitter, Douglas-Roberts posted:
It took 919,967 deaths to kill that one guy. It took 10 years & 2 Wars to kill that...guy. It cost us (USA) roughly $1,188,263,000,000 ... But we winning though. Haaaa. (Sarcasm).Steve Nash and Joakim Noah of the NBA and Scott Fujita and Adalius Thomas of the NFL protested the invasion of Iraq. In 2003, Nash wore a T-shirt stating "No War. Shoot for Peace." to the NBA All-Star activities:
From the start, I spoke out just because I don't want to see the loss of life. People are mistaking anti-war as being unpatriotic. ... [I]t's really unfortunate in the year 2003 that we're still using violence as a means of conflict resolution. That's what I'm speaking out against.Many athletes - Michael Strahan, Nic Harris, and Donte' Stallworth of the NFL, New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch, and NHL player Sean Avery and Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke - have unequivocally offered their support for gay marriage. Another NFL player, Brendon Ayanbadejo, said:
This should not be a subjective issue. Gay and lesbian couples want to marry for similar reasons as we all do: love and commitment. It's time to allow them the opportunity to build a family through marriage. ... Churches can always have their beliefs, but government is supposed to treat everyone the same ... America is supposed to be the land of the free, but in order for this to be true for all of us, then we must have the ability to marry whom we love, regardless of their gender ... Join me in the land of the brave, for standing on the side of love.On Cinco de Mayo 2010, the Phoenix Suns took the court for a playoff game wearing jerseys that read simply "Los Suns", in solidarity with those opposed to SB 1070.
Carlos Delgado has been outspoken about his political activism, protesting the use of the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, as a bombing target practice facility by the US Department of Defense (the bombing was stopped in 2003). Delgado, because of his opposition to the occupation of Iraq, stayed in the dugout whenever "God Bless America" was played during the seventh inning stretch.
Ted Williams, who grew up in San Diego and whose mother was born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, devoted part of his Hall of Fame induction speech - in 1966! - to supporting Negro League players:
I hope some day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren't given the chance.
The NFL moved Super Bowl XXVII from Arizona in 1993 after the state refused to acknowledge Martin Luther King Day and the NCAA has banned tournaments from being played in South Carolina because of the state's embrace of the Confederate flag.
In 1965, Carlton Chester "Cookie" Gilchrist led a group of 22 African-American football players to boycott the AFL All-Star Game in New Orleans. When white players announced their solidarity, the game was moved to Houston. Gilchirst (who died this past January) was a star in both the CFL and AFL, and said the boycott was "better than anything I did playing football". In 1964, he told Sports Illustrated:
People think I'm an oddball because I'm a Negro who speaks up. But I have a lot on my mind. It's an internal disease, and it'll eat me alive if I don't get it out of my system what I think about things.The desegregation of major league baseball was not decreed from the top, but came about, as all social change does, because of a massive and unrelenting push from the bottom. Lester "Red" Rodney, a sportswriter for the Communist Party newspaper, The Daily Worker, led activists to petition outside ball parks throughout the 1930s. In 2004, Rodney recalled,
for the most part [we] never encountered any hostility from fans. People would say, "Gee, I never thought of that." And then they'd say, "Yeah, I think if they're good enough then they should have a chance." We wound up with at least a million and a half signatures that we delivered straight to the desk of [Commissioner] Judge Landis.Those rallies and petitions and the courage of lone voices were all important and necessary steps on the road to Robinson's debut in 1947, the integration of the last major league team (the Red Sox) in 1959, the hiring of Frank Robinson as the first black manager in 1975, to the welcoming of players from all corners of the globe in the last 25 years.
And there is a long history of professional athletes speaking out against injustice, racism, and bigotry, from Gilchrist, Branch Rickey, Muhammad Ali, Tommy Smith and John Carlos, and Roberto Clemente to the athletes who spoke out against the 1991 bombing of Iraq to the quotes posted here and the recent "It Gets Better" videos produced by the Giants, Cubs, and Red Sox.
In August 2010, a group of activists ran out onto the field during a Diamondbacks home game and unfurled a banner calling for Selig to move the 2011 ASG. One of the protestors, Rosa Lozano, said:
I did it because when history reflects this egregious time of civil and human rights violations I want to be able to have pride in saying that I didn't stand idly by and allow human beings to be treated like animals because of their immigration status.I was hoping some major league players - and especially players from the Red Sox - would make that same decision as the date of this year's All-Star Game drew near. But faced with a near-perfect platform to denounce a clear case of racism that could affect hundreds and perhaps thousands of their fellow players, both in the minors and majors, David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez have decided to, as the Herald's Michael Silverman put it, "stay quiet when everyone is listening".