Guillen’s Comments Shouldn’t and Don’t Inspire Effective Disdain
Forgive me for my lack of backbone in advance, but I cannot promise that by the end of this post, I will have taken a stance on the Ozzie Guillen commotion. Granted, here I am, responding to an incident that happened over two weeks ago and has already seen the apology and suspension of Mr. Guillen, but I still feel as if there is more to be said about this issue.
Namely, it seems quite clear to me that had Ozzie Guillen replaced the name he used in his oft-talked about statement for another certain name, Guillen would not still have a job with the Miami Marlins.
Since I’m writing about this issue, in what seems like 6 months after it occurred, let me refresh your memory of the situation. Guillen, manager of the Miami Marlins, made comments in a magazine interview that are as follows:
I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherf***** is still here.
After saying that, the city of Miami, led largely by their predominant Cuban population, voiced their displeasure with Guillen’s comments and seeming show of respect for a person who is considered to be a heinous dictator by the Cuban community and the world around. With said commotion swirling around Guillen and the Marlins, Guillen issued an apology in which he said the statement got twisted up in the translation and that he is extremely apologetic for the hurtful words that came out of his mouth. Soon thereafter, the Marlins suspended Guillen for five games, which he has served at this point, and Guillen is back to managing the Marlins in their newly minted stadium.
And with Guillen’s return to the dugout, the fervor over his comments seems to have died. Unlike the protesting that immediately followed Guillen’s comments, there was seemingly no visible, public protest at the Marlins ballpark in Guillen’s first game back from suspension. Additionally, attendance seemed to be unaffected by any of the alleged disdain that prompted the media attention that Guillen’s comments got.
That my friend, is another sign of fans verbally expressing displeasure and financially expressing the very opposite when forced to make a decision. During the peak Castro-gate, many fans of the Marlins swore to protest, boycott games and reach out to the advertisers of the Miami Marlins. But when push came to shove, and dollars truly had to be pocketed, the fans decided not to vote with their money and instead went on to cheer on the Marlins to a successful homestand in the new ballpark.
But what if the name that came out of Guillen’s mouth had been “Hitler” and not “Castro,” would that have changed the result?
I would like to think that Americans don’t weigh atrocities and compare one’s pain to another person’s pain, but it’s safe to say that Hitler goes down as the most despised figure of the 20th century. On the other hand, Castro, for all his bad deeds have done to Cuba and global community, probably isn’t in the top 10 of all the time despised figures. Call that poor perspective, lack of universal awareness or just plain bias in the fact that Hitler created a war that killed Americans and Castro did not, but for whatever reason, I’m also assured to get more of a reaction out of you if I make a movie about Hitler than I would if I made a movie about Castro.
At the end of the day, both dictators have blood on their hands. One is really no better than the other. And yet, myself, and many others that I have discussed this with, feel the same way–that if Guillen had said he had respect for Hitler, Guillen would be out of Major League Baseball today. But because he said Castro, a far-less attention-grabbing name, Guillen got five games instead of his career. Is that fair? And if not, who is it not fair to?
The surface level argument is that by not firing Guillen for using Castro, when many of us think he’d be fired for using the name Hitler, that the Cuban voice is being marginalized. Again, we can’t say for certain that Guillen would even be fired if he expressed respect for Hitler, but one cannot fault a Cuban-American for feeling as if that is the case given the USA’s strong, vocal defense of the Jewish community, the US military and Israel over the years. And if you are a Cuban American today, it would be hard to fault you for viewing this country as having somehow given more credence to the pain of Jews and American soldiers than we do to Cuban Americans.
That being said, that’s not where I would cast my accusations of a lack of fairness. Instead, I turn to whether or not this is fair to the perception of American culture.
Call me crazy, but in a society full of professors, doctors, lawyers and scientists, I don’t really take the political views of Guillen seriously. And yet, when some colorful, loud mouth, trash-talking manager for a below .500 baseball team gives us 30 seconds on his personal views of a once-de facto dictator, while using the term “motherfucker” in his quote, people, the media and everyone else in between goes ape-shit over it.
Yes, I understand that Guilen is a public figure, an influencing voice, and maybe represents Miami and South Florida more than just about anyone else who resides in that area. But he’s still a baseball manager. No offense to pizza guys, but if the dude delivering my pie said something about Castro, I wouldn’t allow it to mess up my day, my hour or the few seconds I spend tying my shoes every morning. As a people, we really have to start putting people in their proper categories, and Guillen doesn’t belong in the one that warrants reaction to views outside of sports.
Now if I’m the president of the Marlins, then yes, the issue concerns me, because this man is employed by me, and what does it say about an individual who wants to work with somebody with the kind of ignorance Guillen displayed. But as a fan of baseball, I don’t expect my manager to be the most knowledgeable when it comes to worldly issues and political figures. Obviously, I don’t want to root for someone who says they respect Castro either; however, I don’t want to put any real effort into removing Guillen from his job, because his comments shouldn’t affect how I feel about the issue or how I live my life. And as the people of Miami just showed you upon Guillen’s return to the dugout, they don’t seem too interested in putting forth much effort to get Guillen canned either. Maybe they are more in line with my line of thinking than I thought.
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