There’s a context for what happened to Adam Jones. We need to put a stop to it.

There’s a context for the racial taunts directed at Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones at Fenway Park during Monday night’s game. After all, we had just learned that a Trump supporter from Winchester, one of the wealthiest communities in the state, had written a letter to his community weekly complaining about those “Hate Has No Home Here” signs that have popped up here and there (including in front of our house).

“It is offensive to imply that the rest of us — who don’t have a sign and who don’t think the way you think we should — are haters,” wrote John Natale in the Winchester Star. “That’s insulting.” It was a breathtaking display of cluelessness and insensitivity. And we never would have heard about it if a seventh-grader’s righteous response hadn’t gone viral.

There has been an enormous amount of commentary about the Fenway Park incident in the past few days. Here are three you ought to take a look at.

  • In The Boston Globe (owned by Red Sox principal owner John Henry), columnist Adrian Walker wonders why more steps haven’t been taken to curb racist fans. “Bad behavior can be stopped,” writes Walker. Indeed. As we have been reminded, Boston is one of the most inhospitable cities in the country for visiting black players. It’s disgusting. I’m glad that fans gave Jones a standing ovation Tuesday night, but it shouldn’t have been necessary in the first place.
  • In the Boston Herald, sports columnist Steve Buckley gives Red Sox president Sam Kennedy high marks for acting decisively but criticizes him for blaming the problem on “an ignorant few.” Buckley’s response: “Every time the ignorant few do their handiwork, another episode of ‘Boston is a Racist City’ gets played out on the national stage.” It may be an ignorant few who drunkenly spew the N-word in public, but something is making them feel empowered to do it.
  • At WBZ Radio (1030 AM), Jon Keller draws a distinction between “real Bostonians” and “fake Bostonians.” The trouble is, though real Bostonians would never engage in racist taunting, they’re not doing enough to stop it, either. Says Keller: “Time for the real Bostonians to do more to see to it that the fakers are exposed, isolated and shamed.”

Talk about this post on Facebook.

Advertisements

Tom Yawkey, racist

Tom Yawkey and his wife, Jean, at Fenway Park in the 1930s. Photo (cc) by the Boston Public Library
Tom Yawkey and his wife, Jean, at Fenway Park in the 1930s. Photo (cc) by the Boston Public Library

Excellent column by noted baseball fan Adrian Walker in today’s Boston Globe on the racism of the late Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey. Somewhere in the mists of my memory I seem to recall that when the Sox finally did sign their first black ballplayer, Pumpsie Green, Yawkey’s reaction was: “They really do have funny names, don’t they?”

Walker suggests that both Yawkey Way and the MBTA’s Yawkey Station be named for Ted Williams, who not only was “racially enlightened,” as Walker writes, but was also perhaps the greatest Latino player in major-league history.

Sounds like a good idea to me. But as an alternative, why not rename Yawkey Way for Williams and the T station for Jim Rice, a Hall of Famer and an African-American? Rice was the team’s best player at a time when Boston was considered the most racist city in America. Yet, incredibly, he was often criticized around here for his all-business demeanor and his frosty relations with the media.

Revs. Rivers and Wall’s $105,000 ‘invoice’

Adrian Walker has an absolutely stunning column on page one of The Boston Globe today. He reports that two well-known African-American ministers, Eugene Rivers and Bruce Wall, recently submitted a $105,000 “invoice” for services (not) rendered to Keolis North America, the company that was recently awarded the commuter-rail contract by the MBTA.

Rivers and Wall are reportedly pushing Keolis on diversity issues. Last December, Martine Powers of the Globe reported that Wall and other ministers were criticizing Keolis’ record and were concerned about the French company’s behavior during the Nazi era.

Whether Rivers and Wall were engaging in a piece of ill-advised political theater (as seems likely) or if there is something more nefarious going on, I’m sure we can look forward to learning more in the days ahead.

The difference between Wilkerson and Turner

No-longer-cooperating witness Ron Wilburn tells the Boston Globe’s Adrian Walker: “Dianne is a thief. Chuck isn’t. Dianne knew better. Chuck is a victim of circumstance.” Which is kind of the way this has looked from the beginning.

Give it up, Chuck

Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker unleashes a high, hard one today destroying any pretense that Boston city councilor Chuck Turner and former state senator Dianne Wilkerson were set up by racists at the FBI.

Walker has a page-one interview with Ron Wilburn, better known as “Cooperating Witness,” the guy who lured Wilkerson and Turner into posing for those can’t-get-enough photos of them taking cash, allegedly in return for their help in getting Wilburn a liquor license for a bar he was trying to open.

Wilburn is not a racist FBI agent. Nor is he in trouble himself. Rather, he is a well-known, 69-year-old African-American businessman and longtime Wilkerson supporter who tells Walker that he’d had enough, and that he expects more city officials will be arrested before this is over.

I’d say he’d be in a position to know, wouldn’t you? After all, he knows who smiled for the camera. This excerpt from Walker’s piece is priceless:

“People do things,” Wilburn said. “There are decisions, there are choices, and there are consequences.” Asked if he was surprised that public officials would allegedly take money to help push a liquor license, he responded quickly. “Hell, no,” and let out a hearty laugh….

“You’re dealing with favoritism, cronyism, classism, and if you don’t have the right connections it’s very difficult to make things happen,” Wilburn said. “The average person that works hard and has a plan to get a license, it’s very hard for them to move through that system. And you find out if you have the right people pushing the buttons, things can happen fast.”

So much for Turner’s media-bashing performance yesterday outside City Hall.

Wilburn does say that the FBI remains its usual bumbling self. For one thing, he says he never told the FBI that he was tired of being shaken down by Wilkerson, as the FBI claims in its affidavit (PDF). For another, he’s upset that the FBI gave him so little cover that his identity quickly became known.

But, he adds, “I was not forced or coerced.”

And now Wilburn finds himself at the center of the biggest corruption scandal Massachusetts has seen in several decades.

File photo of Turner (cc) by stand4security and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Dianne Wilkerson, then and now

Some years back, the Boston Herald’s Joe Sciacca and I were standing on the arena floor at the Democratic State Convention, which was to be held the next day. It was a Friday night, a little after 9 p.m. I think it was in 1994*, and I can’t remember whether it was in Lowell, Worcester or Springfield.

As we were talking, state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, D-Roxbury, sauntered by. Sciacca and I looked at each other. At the time, Wilkerson was under partial home detention for not paying her taxes or some damn thing, and — if I’m recalling the details correctly — she had a 9 p.m. curfew.

Sciacca went tearing off to the press area. As it turned out, there was no news — he found out that Wilkerson’s punishment had just come to an end, and so there was no curfew for her to violate.

No more than a funny little anecdote on a day when Wilkerson’s political career has come to a final, sickening end.

Her arrest comes during a week when the Phoenix’s David Bernstein is reporting still more wrongdoing on her part. And at Universal Hub, Adam Gaffin explains how Wilkerson unwittingly drew the Boston City Council and Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker into her orbit.

Wilkerson’s once-bright promise flamed out many years ago. It’s amazing she lasted as long as she did.

*Update: After reading the Wednesday coverage, I now think it was 1998.

Columnist smackdown!

Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen responds to John Gonzalez’s Boston Magazine piece, making up for any perceived bile shortage in rather spectacular fashion. And Boston Magazine blogger Amy Derjue responds to Cullen’s response with applause, urging Cullen’s metro-columnist stablemates, Yvonne Abraham and Adrian Walker, to get similarly worked up.

A note to the Globe’s Web folks: If Cullen thought Gonzalez’s critique was worth expending 660 words, don’t you think you should have linked to it?

Fangs for the memories

Boston Magazine’s John Gonzalez writes that the Boston Globe’s three metro columnists — Adrian Walker, Kevin Cullen and Yvonne Abraham — seem more intent on writing inoffensive feature stories than in drawing blood.

Personally, I’d like to see more outrage. But I suppose the last thing the Globe needs right now is for pissed-off readers to call up and cancel their subscriptions.

Just recently I was thinking about how I’d like to see the metro columnists redeployed, and I came up with an old-fashioned idea that I think might work. (Keep in mind even having metro columnists is pretty old-fashioned.)

I’d station one at the Statehouse, one at City Hall and one at Boston Police headquarters, and instruct all three to write reported pieces with opinion, attitude and, yes, an occasional sense of outrage. Not to be too narrow — they’d be allowed to stray from their beats, but not often.

If you’re thinking that’s not the way to draw in a new generation of twentysomething readers, well, I guess I’d have to agree. But it would certainly make me happy.

Trouble for a Globe columnist

Globe columnist Adrian Walker faces some serious trouble following his arrest Sunday on drunken-driving charges. The Herald runs with a fairly detailed story in which Walker’s lawyer, Michael Doolan, emphasizes Walker’s not-guilty plea and says that “we hope and expect he will be acquitted.” The Globe carries a brief item.

Walker is one of the good guys in local media. A respected Statehouse reporter, he landed a columnist’s spot following the Patricia Smith/Mike Barnicle meltdown of 1998. As a columnist, Walker has emphasized substance over flash. There are no verbal pyrotechnics in his pieces, but you generally learn something new.