Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey recently issued a letter to Michael Weiner of the Major League Baseball Players' Association indicting Arizona law SB1070 as racist legislation, and included a plea to boycott or move the All-Star game slated to be played in Phoenix in 2011. He cites that many Hispanic baseball players and fans could be "subjected to that same type of interrogation" suggested by the Arizona law, and if they were, it would be an "embarrassment and an injustice."
Unwittingly and undeservedly, Major League Baseball has been thrust into the political fray, and is now confronted by a catch-22. To respond to the public letter by Senator Menendez, baseball appears to have no options that will fully absolve it in the public eye.
Major League Baseball could choose to boycott the game or move the venue to a different city, thereby giving in to the demands. Either of these decisions could be destructive for baseball. Arizona's decision to more strictly enforce immigration law is widely supported by the American public. According to recent polls, fifty-nine percent of Americans support immigration enforcement in Arizona, while only thirty-two percent oppose the legislation. Among the broad majority that supports this bill are millions of fans who would be unhappy with a decision to either boycott the game or shift venues. In addition, either choice would strip from the city of Phoenix its hard-fought victory in gaining a bid to host the game, which would be unfair to say the least.
The only other choice for Major League Baseball would be to continue as was originally planned and allow the game to be played in Phoenix. This would likely upset those that oppose the bill, and would open the door to a boycott by these groups, as has been threatened.
Neither of these choices bode well for Major League Baseball, as some of their fan base will be angered regardless of the path that they choose. But if they choose to move the game, we can be sure that we will see more threats of racially predicated boycott in the future, because the strategy will have proven successful. Just as with all terrorism, caving to demands will only embolden the efforts of the terrorists. Further agendas of racism will be constructed and further threats will be made, which will lead to further concessions made in fear.
The issue in Arizona has been obviously and purposefully misdirected. The Arizona enforcement measures are not meant to address race, but rather to address an issue of nationality and enforcement of existing law. Men like Menendez know this, so they have had to divert their argument. They instead focus on the failsafe issue of alleged racism, and are clinging for dear life to the preposterous notion that being asked to present identification is somehow a violation of civil liberties.
The masterminds orchestrating opposition to this bill do not truly think the legislation is racist. Their goal is simply to use the American fear of racism to demonize support of the bill, and to repeal it until such time that amnesty for illegal aliens can be examined at a federal level.
Arizona and Major League Baseball have become victims this vile agenda, and men like Menendez have forced upon them the necessity to make a difficult choice. Arizona must either repeal their bill or enforce it, and baseball must either move the game or allow it to be played.
Given the current pulse on this issue, I would wager that the silent majority would be content if both Arizona and Major League Baseball simply adopt and apply a well-known policy, and resolve to stand firm, stick to the schedule, and play ball.