Why Ozzie Guillen Was Wrong

by Nicholas Frankovich

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen praises Castro and then takes it back, but the Marlins suspend him for five games anyway. In news reports (here, for example), Guillen’s offense is presented as a public-relations error, a failure to appreciate that pro-Castro sentiment clashes with the Miami demographic, which includes a lot of Cuban Americans who don’t like Castro, much as New Englanders don’t like the Yankees — although the tension between Miami and Havana represents something a bit more serious than does the rivalry between Boston and New York.

Major League Baseball supports the Marlins’ disciplinary action against Guillen and has issued a statement by Commissioner Bud Selig. It reads in part: “All of our 30 clubs play significant roles within their local communities, and I expect those who represent Major League Baseball to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that the game’s many cultures deserve.”

But it’s misleading to suggest that anti-Castroism is merely a regional or ethnic idiosyncrasy. It’s a subset of anti- Communism, really. You might think that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union has rendered anti-Communism obsolete, but the moral intuition that illuminated it for most of the 20th century still shines. In that light, the Castro government of the past half century is exposed for the scandal that it is — an oppressive regime, inimical to freedom, and worthy of the principled opposition of baseball fans, and others, regardless of where they live or where their grandparents were born.

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