Tag: social justice

Why Bowling Green matters, or, the White House that called ‘wolf’

It happened again Thursday night, and by Friday, it was a social media sensation, for all the wrong reasons.

Trump spokesman Kelllyanne Conway, in the midst of defending the president’s executive order banning travel from several Moslem countries, cited the “Bowling Green massacre” as a reason why the country needs such an action.

Except, as we know by now, there was no Bowling Green massacre.

It was just yet another figment of the collective mind of the Trump administration, just like the overflow crowds at the inauguration, the millions of illegal votes cast that denied Trump a victory in the overall vote totals and the threat grizzly bears present to American school children.

Social media responded as only it can, with everything from green bowling balls, green ribbons to remember the “victims” and faux historical markers.

It’s good for a laugh, but looking at the big picture, even Trump boosters should worry.

Call them lies, falsehoods, half-truths, or, in the Trumpian newspeak that’s all the rage nowadays, “alternate facts,” they’re a series of statements that we’re being asked to buy, even though they have no basis in reality.

And while inventing massacres (personally, I hope no Nate Thurmond memorabilia was destroyed) may seem like a minor sin, it raises the matter of trust.

If Trump and his followers are going to distort the truth on these matter, how do we know they will be telling us the truth when it comes to issues that could lead us into another Constitutional criss, economic calamity or, pray not, war.

It’s the least we could ask of the man with the nuclear codes, isn’t it?

In other news:

  • It’s needed now more than ever. Alas, we have to wait nine days for pitchers and catcher to report, as of Feb. 4.
  • That ancient tome, the Columnist Manifesto (not to be confued with the book by Karl Marx) requires a Super Bowl pick. So we’ll go with the old standby in this case: Good defense always finds a way to stop a good offense, so it’s the Patriots.
  • Can’t help but think the NFL was delivered a huge karma cookie over the past few weeks with a result that was opposite of what it wanted: The Chargers moving to Los Angeles, while the Raiders will remain in Oakland rather than a glitzy playpen in Las Vegas.
  • It’s still hard to see the NFL working in Vegas, the gambling question aside.

For all the talk of increased tourism from fans of visiting teams and “guys weekends,” look at the map. Outside of metro Las Vegas, what’s the nearest big city: Kingman? Barstow? San Bernardino?

And in between, a lot of sand and spent Acme products.

When will we look live at an apology, Brent?

Brent Musburger closed his long sportscasting career Tuesday night with a college basketball game on ESPN, but there’s one thing the 77-year-old needs to do before starting his new job with a Las Vegas gambling information company.

Apologize to Tommie Smith and John Carlos for a very disturbing column.

A little perspective: The late 60s were a troubling time, perhaps more troubling than the times we’re in now (but we’ll let history judge that).

In April 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assasinated in Memphis, Tenn., while showing support for black sanitary workers.

Two months later, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, who also promoted the causes of the poor and minority groups, was assinated in Los Angeles after giving a victory speech upon winning the California primary.

This year also saw George Wallace running for president on a pro-segregation platform with the American Independent Party.

It was also during these times Muhammad Ali was fighting in court after his heavyweight boxing title was stripped due to his refusal to be inducted in the military.

In October 1967, sociologist Harry Edwards launched the Olympic Project for Human Rights, which called for a boycott of the 1968 Olympics by black athetes.

While the boycott did not come about, it did produce one of the keystone moments in the struggle for human rights, Smith and Carlos’ raised-fist salute in after going 1-3 in the 200 meters at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, setting the stage for social involvement by athletes.

As one might expect, given the times and an era in which the sports media less critical of sports institutions and the dumb jock cliché was in full force in the media and elsewhere, response was swift, and negative.

After threatening to ban the American team from the rest of the Games, International Olympic Committe President Avery Brundage then ordered Smith and Carlos out of the Olympic Village.

Musburger, a sports writer for the Chicago American newspaper, labeled Smith and Carlos “black-skinned stormtroopers.” The text of the column can be found here : https://www.thenation.com/article/after-forty-four-years-its-time-brent-musburger-apologized-john-carlos-and-tommie-smith/

Both were villified when they returned to the States as well, but as time went on and as the cause of civil rights moved forward, the tide turned in their favor.

In 2005, a statue depicting their protest was unveiled at their alma mater, San Jose State, with the spot occupied by silver medalist Peter Norman left empty, at the Australian’s request, so vistors could stand in his spot.

In 2008, the duo received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs.

Both were on hand when SJSU announced the revival of its legendary track and field program last summer, and Smith was on hand last month when the university announced the establishment of the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change, in the company of Edwards, James Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbarr, among others.

But where’s Brent? Have his views on Smith and Carlos changed since 1968?

We don’t know. He hasn’t said anything since then, although he’s had plenty to say about the beauty of Katherine Webb, girlfriend of one-time Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, and Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who was briefly suspended from the team after pleading guilty in the assault of a female student.

So why can’t he say anything about his words on Smith and Carlos? And where is the outrage beyond this corner of cyberspace and a few other publications?

With his play-by-play duties complete, perhaps Musburger will have time to search his soul and atone for his words. Perhaps even learn the way to San Jose, which would be an appropriate venue for his mea culpa. On in 2018, which marks not only the 50th anniversary of the Smith-Carlos protest, but the return of SJSU’s track program.

Otherwise, it remains an ugly blot on a storied career.