As you probably know, Arizona passed a law that makes the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and gives
the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the
country illegally. Supporters believe it to be a necessary move to combat illegal immigration to the state. Opponents call it an open invitation for
harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their
citizenship status. I have my own opinions about it all and I’m sure you do too, but that’s not terribly important in this forum because this forum is about baseball.
But the controversy over Arizona SB 1070 is now hitting baseball, as people are protesting the Arizona Diamondbacks wherever they go:
Today at Chicago’s Wrigley Field and in just about every city the team
visits, there is expected to be a protest outside the stadium against
Arizona’s new immigration-enforcement law, Senate Bill 1070. One of the people organizing and encouraging such protests is Tony
Herrera, the Arizona representative for a national movement (it has a
Facebook page) called “Boycott Arizona 2010.”
“This team is an ambassador for Arizona,” Herrera told me. “And the
owner, Mr. (Ken) Kendrick, is a big supporter of Republican politics.
This new law was a Republican bill. Until the law is changed, there
should be protests.”
Some people are also suggesting that Major League Baseball take away the 2011 All-Star Game which will take place in Chase Field. The odds of that happening are somewhere below the odds of Lou Dobbs joining those protests, but people are asking it all the same.
I like to rouse rabble as much as the next guy, but protests based on attenuated links kind of irk me. Yes, the Dbacks are from Arizona and yes the team’s owner — one of several dozen in a large ownership group, by the way — generally supports the party that sponsored the legislation, but the Diamondbacks and any fans heading to Wrigley Field this weekend are innocent bystanders here. I’m guessing they no more appreciate having a ballgame interrupted by immigration politicking any more than Super Bowl viewers were interested in listening to Tim Tebow go on whatever it was he was going on about in that boring little commercial that caused all the hubub.
People can obviously do what they want because the First Amendment is pretty damn awesome, but I can’t help but think these sorts of protests and calls for boycots are at best ineffective in furthering the protesters’ cause and potentially detrimental. If you’re running late to the game and you have to navigate a picket line outside the gate, you’re probably not going to be very sympathetic to the protester’s cause. And if calls for boycotts are actually heeded they won’t hurt the owners of the Diamondbacks nearly as much as they’ll hurt the concession guys and stadium sweepers who get laid off because business is slow. These things are great for some short-lived publicity, but short-lived publicity is generally not the best way to affect political change. That takes sustained activism, legal action and other less-sexy things than jumping in front of TV cameras.
But I guess my biggest beef with this sort of thing is that when I go to a baseball game, I’m looking to escape reality for a little while and it angries up my blood if I have to have to think about the real world for those three hours. Maybe that makes me a bad citizen or something, but it’s how I feel. And I feel that way whether I agree with the protesters or not.
UPDATE: If you’re looking for more on this, BIll at the Daily Something has some.