I wonder how many of this country's inhabitants, even if they take great pains to appear fair-minded in public, would secretly amend "The New Colossus." That's Emma Lazarus' sonnet appearing inside the lower level on the pedestal of Lady Liberty.
It features the line, "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free … "
Maybe it should read, "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free … so long as they are white."
Because even if I accept that positive change happens slower than tooth decay, I see more examples of an angry, hateful country whose wheels spin furiously, but with no traction. Such was the case Thursday when the depths of intolerance seeped into sports.
A man named Joel Ward, born in Canada and who emigrated here from Barbados, scored the game winning goal for the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night in Boston. His goal eliminated the Bruins from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Joel Ward is black.
Joel Ward's skin color, apparently, is an issue with some Bruins' fans, who felt the need to unburden themselves on Twitter.
Tom Troy (@TomTroy12): "The fact that a (racial epithet) scored the winning goal makes it worse."
Adam Begos (@Begos_8): "Joel Ward, you are a (racial epithet)."
Charlie Cobb (@Skoal_Banditt): "Joel Ward, you bleeping (racial epithet), you suck 6 goals all season you bleeping (racial epithet) bleep."
Chase Coulson (@K1NGOFCRAZY): Joel Ward is the first (racial epithet) to score in overtime."
Ethan Marshall (@Grizzlymarshall): "Bleeping stupid, arrogant, smelly, useless, waste of life, sad excuse for a NHL hockey playing (racial epithet)!!!"
That's a mere sampling.
Now let me just say that I am not naïve.
But I'm speechless. Not that such advanced vocabularies and enlightened thinkers still exist today. But that a nation founded by immigrants — immigrants who heard racial epithets and taunts and still fortified America's blue collar backbone — could still harbor such hate.
If you go to the Twitter page of Mr. Marshall, you'll see he has inspired all of 19 followers. Draw your own conclusion. But you'll also see a profile photo of a white male wearing a green shirt with the word "Irish" emblazoned across it.
What kind of words do you suppose Mr. Marshall's ancestors heard many years ago trying to make a life in America? One friend of mine said, "They'd have heard 'Irish need not apply.'"
How sad, really, that any wisdom for their pain was never passed down.
I've never been comfortable, as a white male, tossing around the word "racism." I could say that I know it when I see it. But would I really know it, never having been its victim? So I seek counsel.
I read this once from Jason Whitlock, a prominent black columnist for Foxsports.com, and thought it was a conversation starter, if nothing else:
"Racism is not a quote or a slur uttered in disgust. Racism is imposing or supporting actions and laws that unfairly infringe upon the liberties of people who have a different skin color from you."
Whitlock's point has merit. Still, I don't believe it's a treacherous leap between people who toss around racial epithets on Twitter eventually becoming the same people who would "support actions and laws that unfairly infringe upon the liberties of people who have a different skin color from you."
So whether you characterize Tom Troy, Adam Begos, Charlie Cobb, Chase Coulson, Ethan Marshall and the hundreds of others who posted similar thoughts as "racists" is irrelevant. Besides, they might like it.
I'm more interested in whether their views are permissible in their workplaces. Would you want to work with somebody who espouses such an unfounded superiority complex, based solely on skin color? Would you want to employ such people? What if their next client or customer is black?
Perhaps you view it a bit Draconian to fire somebody for some moronic tweet. I say: Bring on the lawsuit. I want to see the court of law that ultimately permits the use of hate.
And spare me the First Amendment argument. People in this country argue "free speech" without having the slightest hint of what it means.
"Free speech" makes no provision for certain consequences. Translation: You are free to spew hate without losing your freedom. But whether you have a job the next day extends beyond the First Amendment's influence.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.