Time’s Friedman Fails to Show That Hank Aaron Would Face Worse Social Media-Driven Racism Today Than in Pre-Net 1970s
Over at what’s left of Time Magazine’s Time.com, Jon Friedman claims that Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron “Would Have Faced Worse Racism Today” than he did in 1973 and 1974 as he edged ever closer to and then broke Babe Ruth’s once thought unapproachable career record of 714 home runs. There is no doubt that Aaron faced significant adversity as he neared that record. In that pre-Internet, pre-social media era, he got his death threats the old fashioned way: via snail mail. The Lords of Baseball are said to have employed extra plainclothes security details behind home plate at Atlanta Braves home and away games in 1973.
If Friedman had written that anonymous death threats can be more easily deliverable these days, he might have had a point. But he didn’t go there, instead writing as if it’s an indisputable fact that “The home-run king is lucky he didn’t have to contend with the ubiquitous bigots and haters on today’s social media.” If that were so obvious, you would think the the Time writer would have come up with better “proof” than the completely irrelevant examples he cited (HT Hot Air Headlines):
I made a cursory Google search to check out “sports racist taunts on Twitter” from 2014 alone and found numerous examples, such as:
“Cops Investigate Racist Taunts at Stan Collymore After He Accused Luis Suarez of Diving”;
“Students Suspended After Racial Slurs at Basketball Game”;
“Racism Rears Its Ugly Head: Peruvian Fans Shout Epithets at Black Brazilian Soccer Player”
Plus, we witnessed the possible racial overtones in the bullying furor late last year that engulfed the former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, and the reaction to Richard Sherman’s post-game comments after the NFC championships game.
This is really weak, Jon.
The first and third items are from overseas (UK and Peru, respectively). The second relates to an ugly incident in the U.S. — but involving high school students who have a lot of growing up to do. Those who attempted to bring race into the Martin bullying controversy and the reaction to Sherman’s juvenile and taunting post-game behavior after his team’s playoff victory were predominantly on the fringes of social media discussion. In the Sherman case, the left predictably tried to stereotype as racist anyone who thought that the Seattle Seahawks defender should instead have displayed some class and sportsmanship instead of teaching those who look up to him how to be undignified jerks.
If Friedman had tried to imagine social media’s presence in 1973 and had claimed that Aaron would have had a rougher time because of it, he might have had a point. But he utterly failed to make any kind of case that the nation is chock full of white adults who would be engaging in threatening online behavior against one of the classiest players (to be clear — as a player, given that Aaron has unfortunately fallen for the stereotyping of conservatives as racists) people ever to put on a Major League Baseball uniform if he were going after Babe Ruth’s record today.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.