What happens when a mob comes for a crowd? An entire city is smeared as bigoted. When Josh Hader entered his first Brewers game at Miller Park since his old racist and homophobic tweets surfaced during the All-Star Game last week, he received a warm cheer from the hometown fans. Some even stood and applauded.
This, according to the national sports media, was unacceptable.
The implication is that Brewers fans were applauding Hader's racist tweets. They most certainly were not. They were supporting his response to them, much like Hader's teammates did in his first press conference in Milwaukee after those tweets became public.
Are we to believe that Lorenzo Cain and Jesus Aguilar are similarly bigoted because they rushed to Hader's defense, telling anyone who would listen that who Hader was at 17 isn't who Hader is at 24.
Hader, however, has committed America's unforgivable sin. That he once expressed admittedly abhorrent viewpoints will forever tarnish him and bring shame to anyone who dares support him. You stood and applauded for one of your favorite players? You're standing and applauding racism.
No level of apology, no sensitivity training, no possible action Hader could take will erase the scarlet letter R from his jersey. And this is not to say that while Hader can be forgiven, his racism will ever be forgotten. It's already gotten its own section on his Wikipedia page, and it will probably figure in some way in his obituary. This is part of his story, part of his legacy now.
But can't his redemption be, too? And can't his supporters back that redemption and show their appreciation of it? Or will they forever be tarnished with a sort of secondhand bigotry every time they applaud him?
Bill Maher's fans still applaud him every Friday night even after using the n-word on his show a year ago.
Maher, of course, wasn't a 17 year-old boy at the time. He was a 50-something with a national television show. He apologized and everyone just moved on without ever wondering if it was appropriate that his studio audience applauded uproariously the first time he appeared onscreen after the controversy.
This, it seems, is another thing that fans were applauding--a rejection of this very obvious double standard. Maher is a very prominent political liberal whose voice is considered an important one in advancing political ideas, ergo the loss of his voice over an infraction as minor as using the n-word in a joke would be far too big a price to pay for the social justice movement.
Hader, meanwhile, a baseball player who does not proffer a liberal view on social justice issues, offers nothing to the movement and can therefore be used as a symbol of the innate racism of White America. The fact that a crowd cheered him, then, is further evidence of this rather ludicrous claim.
Were America as racist a country as these social justice warriors claim, neither Hader nor would Maher would have been forced to apologize at all. Their remarks would have been met with actual applause and widespread support, not the universal condemnation they actually received.
And if that social justice movement were less disingenuous, it would have called out the overwhelmingly liberal Bill Maher crowd's response to his return in the same way that it called out the Milwaukee crowd's response to Hader's return.
Naturally, that didn't happen, but if it did--if the social justice crowd so quick to demonize everyone else would express the same outrage over the same sins of its own members--then that would really be something worth standing and applauding.