Thursday, July 22, 2004


Delgado should be cheered, not jeered

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, in a country where a flag-burning amendment is considered important enough that the Senate considers it rather than worrying about balancing the budget, that having a conscience and exercising it is reviled. Granted, the fans at Yankee Stadium are not a perfect cross-section of America, but their reaction to Carlos Delgado after it was finally discovered that he disappears every time the song "God Bless America" is played at the ballpark in silent protest of the war in Iraq is probably not atypical.

Ron Borges gets it exactly right in his column, linked above. Delgado should be applauded for the quiet civics lesson he's teaching to all the little kids who follow baseball. He's making a silent statement about something he believes is wrong--without hurting anyone, without rubbing it in anyone's face. To do so, and to acknowledge doing so when questioned, and to put up with the taunts of fans as a result, takes a sort of courage we sorely lack in America.

Marilynne Robinson points this out in the most recent issue of Harper's, in an article titled "The Tyranny of Petty Coercion." It's unfortunately not available online, but the gist is this: While America produces a great many people who are willing to sacrifice their lives in its service, an act that requires great physical courage, it does not produce people who are willing to admit that they think differently than those around them, an act that requires a different sort of courage altogether, a moral and intellectual courage that we have a harder time recognizing and, therefore, a harder time fostering.

Robinson calls this courage the courage to stand by the "truth," even when that truth is not popular and not recognized by the masses as true. It is the sort of courage that allows Robinson to call herself a liberal when the word has been discredited because she knows what the word really means, the sort of courage she also demonstrates by calling herself a Christian among her "liberal" friends who say she should abandon the label because the Religious Right has perverted it. It is the sort of courage Delgado shows by sitting quietly during the seventh-inning stretch to show that, while others may not like it, he believes starting the war in Iraq was wrong. It is the sort of courage needed in these times, when questioning the impact of a tax policy on a group of people elicits cries of "Class warfare!" and "Why do you hate America?" If we as a nation continue to hold dear the precepts upon which our country was founded, we should see that Delgado is showing us what we're all about. As Borges points out, the founders were influenced by Voltaire, so I leave you for today with his thoughts on free speech:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”


Mark said...

Let's not forget that these same Yankee fans booed Dick Cheney during God Bless America about a month ago. Further proof that Yankee fans are idiots and people across America should stop paying attention to New York in general.

Richard said...

...says Mark mere days before I embark on a journey to New York.

By the way, I have to approve of booing Dick Cheney. On my list of idiots, he's pretty high up there.