Home run king Hank Aaron ( sorry Barry Bonds, but Hank will always be my home run king ) came under fire recently for saying that racism is alive and well in America. At an event marking the 40th anniversary of his record breaking 715th home run Aaron told USA Today, in apparent reference to the contemporary Republican Party, ” the biggest difference is back then, they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts. ”
Predictably the right-wingers went off their rockers and in short order the same kind of hate mail Aaron endured when he was chasing Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record began pouring into the front office of the Atlanta Braves, where he’s a senior vice president. But was Aaron so far off with his remarks? Let’s take a look at what’s going on in just Wisconsin.
We have a GOP controlled legislature and governor in Wisconsin who seem determined to make voting more difficult. Governor Walker is prepared to call a special session this summer to pass a Voter ID law that will meet constitutional muster in the event the current GOP backed bill is struck down by the courts. Who do you think this bill will most disproportionately effect? The Black and Latino communities in Milwaukee, along with students and the elderly. I don’t have any doubt this is being done deliberately to suppress these voters.
Wisconsin ranks #1 in the entire country for it’s incarceration rate of black men, which is a truly disgraceful and tragic state of affairs. But is this a problem Governor Walker has spoken publicly about? Or Scott Fitzgerald? Or Paul Ryan or Ron Johnson? No. In fact, the only remarks anyone has offered came from alleged brainy wunderkind and social safety net beneficiary Paul Ryan, who could only manage to talk about the deplorable lack of a work ethic amongst ” men ” in our inner cities. Not a word about how America’s racist drug war has absolutely devastated minority communities across the country, including in cities like Milwaukee. Not a word about black men sent to prison at a far disproportionate rate to white men, about how difficult it is to get a job with a prison record, or about single mothers raising children on their own, most of them at poverty wages, while fathers spend time in prison. Not a single acknowledgement of the hardship, grief, and ongoing sense of loss and despair that these conditions of life must surely create; conditions most of us can’t imagine. Not a word about any of this from alleged brainy wunderkind, congressman, and social safety net beneficiary Paul Ryan.
And now we find out that the WisGOP will be voting on a secession resolution at their annual convention next month. They want to be able to secede from the Union under extreme circumstances, whatever that means. Where have we heard this kind of talk before? Hmmmmmmm.
But Hank Aaron is the one who’s out of line for his remarks? He’s the one who’s out of line? I don’t think so. In fact, I think old “Hammerin’ Hank ” just knocked another one out of the park.