Anti-racism sign unfurled at baseball game

Fenway Park in Boston and discussions about race in America seem to go hand in hand, which might well explain why three people — all of them white — unfurled a banner over the park’s fabled “Green Monster” last night.

It befuddled people who said they couldn’t figure out whether the sign was anti-racism or pro-racism. And nobody seems to have bothered to ask the three, who were tossed out of Fenway.

Nestor Ramos, at the Boston Globe, isn’t confused:

First, you may have noticed that the modern racist rarely refers to himself as such these days — and certainly not in giant letters on the perfectly good bedsheet he bought for the spare pillowcases to use as hoods. Even the hopelessly unsophisticated racist in your life likely fancies himself proudly politically incorrect or a teller of hard truths.

No, a proper racist’s sign is not subtle, and the kind of racist who might wield such a sign is not known for wry observations. A racist’s sign will say something like “HANG IN THERE OBAMA” next to a picture of a gallows. Often, it will contain at least one brutal misspelling (“OBAMA HALF-BREEd MUSLiN” is a personal favorite, as if someone had set out to make cheesecloth and instead crafted a two-term president). And for the truly lazy racist in your life, an unsteady swastika spray painted on a bathroom wall will do just fine.

And the more burnished bigots? They now trade only in euphemism. They are “defenders of traditional values” or “protectors of western culture” or some such clownery. They’re also not big sign guys. It’s worth noting that, in general, the racists we should worry most about are the ones who aren’t carrying signs.

A Twitter commenter isn’t so sure.

  • jon

    I think we are missing the other side of this debate…
    Is it pro-baseball or anti-baseball?

    Also in the photo the A in American gets a little lost…. thought it was “Merican” at first… which fits the mold for the misspellings…

    • Barton

      so, they really mean “Mercian?” As in inhabitants of the pre-medieval kingdom of Mercia in (now) England?

    • Rob

      I can see the A perfectly well.

  • Erick

    The Cleveland team has been proving the veracity of the protest sign for years! Maybe we can stop celebrating their success until they drop their racist name and logo.

  • Barton

    Isn’t baseball actually English? Based off their childhood game called Rounders?

    That snarky comment aside, I do think it’s a fairly profound anti-racism statement. I mean, baseball was completely racist during its “classic” period. Best player ever? Satchel Paige, but we’ll never be able to prove it b/c he wasn’t allowed to play against the white players. Player who did the most for his fellow players? Curt Flood, who was treated as a pariah by fellow players and owners who thought he was being too “uppity.” (seriously, modern players should be giving him at least 1% of their earnings as a thank you for even having such earnings).

    • And the Red Sox were the last team to integrate and well into the ’70s were considered a racist organization by the very few (usually just one was allowed on the roster) black ballplayers.

      • Barton

        And sitting on the Green Monster back in 2012 gave me a whole new idea of what racism looks like. I’ve got racist relatives (who admit to being racist) but some of the stuff I heard coming out of the “fans'” mouths that day? Horrible stuff. (we left early).

      • Barton

        I love this song!!! I love the whole album concept too, but I love this song the most.

        • Yeah, they’re a great band. I saw them play the Cedar Cultural Center in 2015 and saw them again at Target Field last year. This has always been one of my favorite songs.

  • Gary F

    “A group called Boston Anitfa took credit for the incident” CBS Boston

    http://boston.cbslocal.com/2017/09/13/fans-make-statement-about-racism-with-sign-above-green-monster/

    • A person claiming to be one of those who unfurled it says that’s not true.

      http://www.csnne.com/boston-red-sox/planner-behind-fenway-racism-american-banner-explains-anti-racist-statement

      “The five of us are in no way associated with Antifa nor did Antifa Boston have anything to do with the action,” the group member wrote via text.

      They offered photographic proof.

      But watch your version spread.

      • Robert Johnson

        To paraphrase Nestor Ramos:

        You may have noticed that the modern neo-fascist antifa types rarely refer to themselves as such these days.

        • John

          I’m not so sure about that. The few people I’ve come across who fall into that camp do so with great pride, and wear the label outright.

          • Robert Johnson

            Interesting. Do you interact with them, or steer clear?

          • John

            the few I know I would happily have a beer or visit with. I would not attend a protest/counter protest with them.

            I agree with some of their ideals, but not their methods (vs. fascism and white supremacy where I disagree with both ideals and methods and do not wish to associate with in any form).

        • I guess it depends how you define “modern neo-fascist antifa types”.

          • Robert Johnson

            As Ramos proffers, one cannot rely simply on how folks self-identify.

            As he says: “First, you may have noticed that the modern racist rarely refers to himself as such these days…”

            I’m not sure how Ramos defines “modern racist” either. If I read his views, he seems to suggest that misspellings on signs are a reliable indicator of a “modern racist” in disguise. So, is good spelling a reliable indicator of modern neo-fascist antifa types? Later he suggests that euphemisms are the stock & trade of the bigot. So, is “anti-fascist” (aka antifa) a sanitized euphemism for “fascist”?

            Where’s my decoder ring?

            He’s not confused, apparently.

          • Beats me. I don’t see much difference between a modern racist and the old-fashioned kind.

          • Robert Johnson

            Nor do I find much difference between the modern antifa types and old fashioned fascists.

            As Ramos pointed out, the self-disclosed labels seem to be largely irrelevant.So when the Boston disruptors speak of their political or ideological affiliations, how skeptical are we to be with those labels?

            I need Ramos’ decoder ring.

          • I still don’t know what a “modern antifa type” is so I can’t really assess whether these three fit into the type.

          • Jack Ungerleider

            Coming in after the fact, this thread is making me dizzy. 8^p

          • Rob

            Umm, anti-fascists are working in opposition to fascists/fascist beliefs. Hope that helps you see the difference.

          • Robert Johnson

            When using fascist tactics in pursuit of real or perceived threats, the self-identification doesn’t really matter.

            Ramos seems to have decoded that.

          • Rob

            Ooooh…Kaaay…

          • Robert Johnson

            That’s pretty much what I thought after I read Ramos’ piece. Apparently,he has the decoder ring.

          • So you’re saying a sign of dissent is a fascist tactic?

          • Robert Johnson

            I really cannot assess whether the sign unfurled in Boston was one of dissent, support, or something else.

            Ramos’ piece doesn’t really offer any clear insights as to what makes this sign (or any other) racist, modern racist, old fashioned racist, or bigoted–he seems to have some special decoder ring.

          • No, but the subsequent link provided makes it pretty clear. No special decoder ring needed. Just a laptop or smartphone and a good Internet connection.

            “But overall, we saw, we see Boston continually priding itself as a kind of liberal, not racist city, and are reminded also constantly that it’s actually an extremely segregated city. It has been for a long time, and that no white people can avoid the history of racism, essentially. So we did this banner as a gesture towards that, to have a conversation about that.”

            Agree?

            Disagree?

          • Robert Johnson

            Yet, Ramos tells us that:

            “Even the hopelessly unsophisticated racist in your life likely fancies himself proudly politically incorrect or a teller of hard truths. No, a proper racist’s sign is not subtle, and the kind of racist who might wield such a sign is not known for wry observations. …

            Ramos tell us is that a “proper racist” are “tellers of hard truths” ….hard truths like “we see Boston continually priding itself as a kind of liberal, not racist city”? He tells us that “proper racists” signs are not subtle…like the Boston sign?

          • Ramos has a point of view expressed with no knowledge about who put the sign up or why.

            But now we know and his role as arbiter of what the sign meant is no longer valid.

            So back to the what the sign was about.

            Agree?

            Disagree?

          • Robert Johnson

            Ramos:”And the more burnished bigots? They now trade only in euphemism.
            They are“defenders of traditional values” or “protectors of western
            culture” or some such clownery..”

            Unfurlers:

            “and that no white people can avoid the history of racism, essentially. ”

            Sounds like the banner guys are “trading in euphemisms”, and “protectors of [their own version of] western culture”.

            In the end, Ramos provides no substantive details on defining racism, modern racism, old fashioned racism, or bigotry.

            Without such details from Ramos, we cannot really assess whether the Boston banner guys fits into any of those categories, don’t fit, or fit somewhere in between, can we?

          • Why do you find Ramos view to be the equal of the individuals who unfurled the banner other than the fact he provides cover for you not to actually address the issue of racism ?

          • Robert Johnson

            I don’t find Ramos’s view equal to any other view. I addressed Ramos’ view since it was offered with the Boston banner story… and I presumed that his view was somehow valuable since it was offered in context with the banner story. I guess I misunderstood the value or reason for the Ramos piece.

            Again, I take note of the hostility and disengage…

          • Subsequently, the banner unfurlers were found and stated their reasons for the banner, erasing all doubt. The link was posted here and provided additional facts for those interested in them.

        • Rob

          Not sure where you get the notion that anti-fascists are fascists.

          • Robert Johnson

            As Ramos would say, you wouldn’t expect fascists to describe themselves as fascists, would you?

            Violent tactics, rhetoric, misdirection, propaganda, anti-traditionalism, intolerance for opposing views, authoritarian ideology, extra-legal methods, disguises…words & actions mean more than labels.

          • Jerry

            Is this like when people tried to call Obama a Nazi? Know your political scale and definitions, people!

          • Jerry

            Call them Bolsheviks, call them jacobins, call them the Red Guard, call them neo-anarchists. Use the right slur. Don’t call them fascists. You just confuse things by doing that. Although maybe that’s the goal.

          • I’m missing the bigger picture in the comments here. So… how ’bout the sign? Why does that disturb people?

          • Jerry

            Because people don’t like being told uncomfortable truths

          • Robert Johnson

            The sign tells us “uncomfortable truths”?

            We don’t really have enough information on who & why to assess what was being proffered, do we?

    • MikeB

      Stick to politics.

      Or,

      Stick to sports.

      Kinda losing track here

      • Christin Crabtree

        I’m a bit confused by your comment…choosing to ignore race is just as political as a addressing it

        • MikeB

          It’s a reference to the Twitter world it has become common to tell non-political commentators to stay out of it, particularly sports writers/bloggers/etc. Given the craziness in last year’s campaign and since then you’d see the sports folk – and others – weigh in on these issues and event. Then the refrain from the Average Joes and Janes was to say “stick to sports”, as if they are not allowed to express their views.

          I truly do not want Gary to stay out of anything. There was a previous post and comment thread about sports personalities using their Twitter accounts outside of sports. My intention was to link these and then use the absurd “stick to sports” verbal meme, I could have fleshed that out better.

          • It’s weird, though. Do plumbers stick to plumbing….bus drivers stick to driving…. software developers stick to software developing?

          • MikeB

            Exactly. Only political hacks and the great unwashed can comment on politics. The irony, it burns.

          • Christin Crabtree

            Thanks for clarifying. Humans are complex and I would HOPE plumbers wouldn’t stick to plumbing…well except maybe Joe. Haha

    • Rob

      Whether Antifa was behind it or not, so what? It was an entirely peaceful activity involving a valid observation.

    • kennedy

      I find it darkly humorous that the original post includes a quote about misspelling in racist signs … and you follow up with a misspelling in your comment. “Anitfa”.

      Is the irony intentional?