Mr. Krueger’s “Racism”

By | August 10, 2005

Here’s a link to the latest in the saga of Larry Krueger, a sports radio talk show host who has come under fire in the past several days for comments he made about Felipe Alou and his San Francisco Giants. For those who haven’t read about it, here are the two quotes that have everyone up in arms:

The Giants’ hitters are “brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly.”

Felipe Alou is “a manager … whose mind has turned to Cream of Wheat.”

Highly crtitical? Yes. Inappropriate? Yes, to an extent. Racist? Huh???

News outlets are reporting these as racist comments, and there are two rationales I have read. First, the implication that Caribbean hitters are brain-dead. And second, the fact that there is apparently an old black man on the Cream of Wheat box, and Felipe Alou happens to be an old black man.

Let’s respond to the second one first. Here’s a little known fact: Cream of Wheat is mushy. “Brain turned to mush” is a fairly common description of someone who has lost it. So Larry Krueger used different words to say, “Felipe Alou used to be smart, but I don’t think he is anymore.” We are grasping at straws if we want to construe this as a racist comment.

Now back to the first reason, the implication that Caribbean baseball players in general are stupid. Did Krueger say that? Probably not, but the fact that he felt the need to include their origin in the statement was certainly stupid and opened him up to the criticism. My problem lies in the wording: was Krueger’s statement ignorant and insensitive? Yes. Did it display prejudice? Yep. Was it racist? Absolutely not. You see, “Caribbean” is not a race. It isn’t even a nationality. It is a region. If someone said, “North Americans are stupid,” or, “Westerners are brain-dead,” would it be a racist comment?

Let’s make one thing clear: I think it was stupid and wrong for Larry Krueger to bring the word “Caribbean” into the equation. If he had referred to them as “brain-dead hitters hacking at slop nightly,” no one would have ever heard about it. He opened himself up to whatever criticism came his way by bringing the C-word into it, and in that regard, he has no one to blame but himself for being fired. But his buddy Gary Radnich is exactly right when he says, “Felipe Alou got rolling, got a head of steam up, and in this politically correct world, you don’t get a second chance any more.”

Larry Krueger is many things, but I don’t know if racist is one of them.

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