Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig remains steadfast in his refusal to move the 2011 All-Star game from Phoenix. Groups protesting Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB1070 have been protesting the state’s baseball team and demanding that Selig make a statement by moving the game elsewhere. When pushed on the issue, Selig had a predictably arrogant answer: he’s done more for players of color than anyone else. Ever.
Dave Zirin wrote this week in The Nation that in July three prominent Milwaukee activists, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the executive director of Voces de la Frontera, Michael D. Rosen, president of the American Federation of Teachers Local 212, and former Wisconsin Secretary of State Vel Phillips addressed a letter to Selig, arguing that the MLB had a moral obligation to take a stand against Arizona’s new law. An excerpt of the letter reads:
We believe that MLB plays a special role in the United States. Our ‘national past time’ has been instrumental in promoting the American ideals of justice, fair play and equality for all. In the words of former Commissioner Faye Vincent “MLB is a moral force.”
Many of these athletes, like Hank Greenberg and Hank Aaron during their pursuits of Babe Ruth’s home run record in vastly different eras, were subject to racist abuse from fans and even other players, abuse that MLB championed against and which you personally found abhorrent. ….Throughout your life you have demonstrated a commitment to justice and fair play. You have the opportunity, in your capacity as Commissioner of Major League Baseball, to help heal America and ensure that Latino and other people, fans and players included, are not victimized because of how they look, their accents or what they wear.
And the commissioner’s response, via Carl Mueller from Mueller Communications, Inc., an organization that specializes in “Crisis & Corporate Communications”:
It’s hard to imagine a Milwaukeean more committed to social justice, fair play, and equal protection under the law who believes that Major League Baseball plays a special role in the United States and who has been instrumental in promoting the American ideals of justice, fair play, and equality for all. He is a hero in Milwaukee, in baseball, in America, and amongst those who believe in social unity and corporate responsibility.
Your energies would best be spent tackling the issue at its core—it’s a political issue to be resolved by politicians. Thank you again for your letter. Sincerely, W CARL MUELLER.”
Whether or not the MLB decides to cooperate, players, fans, musicians and others say they’ll continue to boycott Arizona until the law is repealed.