Yes, Boycott Baseball

WSJ 4/8/2021  By Daniel Henninger

Sherman’s burning of Atlanta wasn’t enough punishment. To clean out any traces of racism 157 years later, Gen. Rob Manfred of Major League Baseball decided the North had to sack Atlanta one more time.

Still, count it as progress that instead of the indiscriminate looting and burning of stores as happened last summer, Gen. Manfred merely ordered the destruction of an estimated $100 million of commerce for Atlanta’s post-pandemic businesses as he moved the All-Star Game to the presumably less morally offensive, if overwhelmingly white, city of Denver.

The CEOs of Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines—headquartered in Atlanta—chirped in their 2 cents of moral condescension. Frankly, Georgia, they don’t give a damn about you.

At issue, one is obliged to insert, is the voting-procedure law passed by Georgia’s Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp. It is not “racist,” as explained in detail by at least three editorials in this newspaper.

As with the routine battles over gerrymandering House districts, this dispute about election law is a political fight between the two major parties. But alongside Georgia, we have the simultaneous trial in Minneapolis of Derek Chauvin, accused of murdering George Floyd during an arrest May 25.

Since that happened, progressives repeatedly have deployed the race card against their opposition, notably over post-pandemic voting legislation. Their goal, again, is partisan and political: to enact H.R.1, which would nationalize federal elections, effectively eliminating a traditional role for elected legislators and other officials in all 50 states.

Yes, politics is hardball. But today we are living through a flood tide of efforts to reduce politics to a permanent confessional on racism. To clear a path for passage of H.R.1, Barack Obama called the Senate filibuster a “Jim Crow relic,” a volatile charge to make in 2021 against so many Americans. Joe Biden, the president of the United States, repeated that lovely thought last week: “This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing in Georgia and 40 other states.”

In the interests of tit-for-tat, note that in 2016, President Obama sat next to Raúl Castro watching a baseball game, supported by the major leagues, in communist Cuba, whose liberalization since that state visit has been zero.

Though he’s been absent from this column for weeks, it’s time to put Donald Trump back in play. He’s right: Boycott baseball—and the rest of the progressives’ new corporate cancel-culture all-star team, including Patagonia, H&M, Uber, Tripadvisor, Levi’s, Blue Apron, Nordstrom and SoFi.

Why boycott them? Because their leaders assume that most of their customers are compliant saps. Mr. Manfred knows that he can get away with smearing half a Southern state as racist (still), because fans everywhere will yet again choke down the political and personal insult and trudge forward to watch the “home team” play. So they win and you lose in the large-stakes political game being played daily by progressives across America.

It’s worth considering why so many corporate and institutional leaders have rolled over for any wild charge the left lobs at its enemies. There are two reasons—one commercial, the other historically deeper and more important.

Most of commercial life today revolves around one idea—promoting a company’s “brand.” No dopes, the left saw that if they could generate 500 hostile social-media posts against a corporate brand over some made-up woke offense, the CEO, having bet his career with millions in marketing costs, will think his brand is about to be destroyed by groupthink millennials who all at once will stop drinking Coke or refuse to stream baseball on MLB.TV.

Corporate cowardice is worse than ever, but by itself insufficient reason for conservatives to organize commercial boycotts, say, a mass Coke dump-a-thon. A better reason is to save once-rational liberals from destroying themselves and pulling the rest of us down in the woke vortex.

As a song once asked: How did it ever get this crazy? Don’t look to rationality for answers. We knew that was gone when the New York Times’s “1619 Project” gained ground.

Liberal guilt is so common that bookshelves bend beneath volumes explaining it. But after Minneapolis, liberal guilt passed into a new dimension. Liberals surrendered themselves to wokeness. They are wallowing in it.

I suspect the left’s professional activists were as taken aback as anyone at how the middle-aged liberals running big companies and cultural institutions swooned for wokeness. Why so easy?

Up to now, feeling guilty about life’s differences, which are real and complex, has suggested some ambivalence about the causes. Not anymore. Rather than wrestle with the rampant illogic and contradictions inside claims about identity or systemic racism, liberals have given in completely to the narcotic pleasure of total guilt. Finally, they’re free.

Alas, their acts of addictive self-release, such as mindlessly canceling Atlanta, will keep disrupting everyone else’s lives. The time has come for an intervention. Boycott baseball.

Write henninger@wsj.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/yes-boycott-baseball-11617832178?mod=opinion_featst_pos3

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