TO FAIL IS NOT TRAGIC…
TO BE HUMAN IS…
I was binge watching Oliver Stone’s The Untold History Of The United States recently and of all the things uttered during his voicing on the piece, these words resonated most with me.
If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend the viewing, especially if you nerd out on stuff like this as I do.
No spoilers, but taking in how modern Russia was formed reminded me of a trip I took to Riga, Latvia with a touring semi-pro team during my university summers in Europe. As a curious adventurer, I was always into finding out about history and customs of any new place I visited as my world kept expanding seemingly on a daily basis.
After one game, a couple guys from our team and I decided to get some local cuisine, perhaps find a hot spot to hang and explore ‘the local talent’. Lo and behold, we didn’t really have to look long; the talent found us. Perhaps it was because there weren’t too many 6’5” bald Black men roaming those Riga streets on the regular looking for places to enjoy the Latvian nightlife.
Armed for the evening and heading to different bars in the area, we were eventually confronted by a group of young toughs who appeared none too pleased with our presence or the current company we were keeping. In the best broken English, we were told that our kind wasn’t welcomed there and to get out of their country.
Being who I am, I fired off the simple retort: “Our kind? You mean ‘humans’?”
It could have gotten sticky because there were definitely more of them than there were us. But my really close friends don’t call me ‘Hands’ just because they can count on me.
Needless to say, the episode stuck with me; not so much that it happened, but what was said.
“GET OUT OF OUR COUNTRY!”
Now, this won’t be a disquisition on the blueprint of the nationalisation ideologue Donald J. Drumpf, whose movements closely resemble those of a little Austrian cat who supposedly died in 1945, or ham handed proselytizing on his apparent agenda.
In less than two weeks in office, Drumpf has been showing how heavy his quill game is, signing one Executive Order after another; each seemingly more destructive than the last.
One in particular strikes at the heart of sentiments expressed during my evening in Riga: The Immigration Ban.
But let’s call it what it really is: The #MuslimBan
That’s Not Halal!
Words have meanings. And these meanings form a mentality.
And this mentality reaches far and wide, not only affecting those who actually practice al-Islam, but most everyone else with a pulse. From brain numbing myopia of ESPN’s NBA in-studio host Sage Steele to the response of fellow ESPN colleague and son of Cuban immigrants Dan Le Batard, this ban is but the beginning in the minds of many.
The National Basketball Association’s greatness today rests not only in the quality of its domestic product, but also in the rich global tapestry from which its players come as well.
In looking to preserve the sanctity of this richness, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and his brain trust reached out to the US State Department shortly after the edict was established to see how the ban might affect South Sudanese players like Luol Deng and rookie Thon Maker, who finished his prep career in Canada, though Sudan is on the list.
Though Deng and Maker have since been marked as exempt from the ban, that this is an issue at all runs counter to what America is propagated to be.
But will Muslim pro athletes get a pass over those Muslims who don’t dribble a basketball for a living?
Drumpf’s proviso is so absurd that at least one of the seven nations on the immigration ban list, Iran (the aforementioned Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia are the others), has banned Americans, regardless of religious leaning, in direct and resolute response.
This is already affecting Americans abroad, as Joseph Jones and J.P. Prince, who play professionally in Iran, are currently stranded in Dubai. Both Jones and Prince are in danger of losing six figure salaries and eventually their jobs as a result.
In the days and weeks to come, we may hear thoughts from some of the most visible Muslims to ever lace ‘em up in the NBA like The Artist Formerly Known As Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Nigerian-born American Muslim Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Jackson aka Imam Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, to name a few.
Other current players like Raptors Kyle Lowry and coaches like Spurs Gregg Popovich have openly expressed dismay, disbelief and disgust at the government action, with more players in some shape form or fashion offering their thoughts on the position as well.
Currently, there are ten players in the Association who are of Muslim faith.
But how are they ‘identified’?
Would someone on the street be able to visibly note that Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters was Muslim? How about Atlanta Hawks Dennis Schroder? What about Nuggets bigs Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic, Sixers stretch four Ersan “Ghostface” Ilyasova, Thunder 6th Man Enes Kanter or Bucks marksman Mirza Teletovic?
On name alone, one might assume Al-Farouq Aminu, Gorgei Dieng and Salah Mejri are Muslim.
Does it matter?
In today’s Drumpf World Order, it does… Sadly.
In a world beginning to feel more Orwellian by the minute, especially with current political climate emanating from the US capitol, the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty come to mind…
So what do you choose?
My Dear Ol’ Dad (Rest The Dead) used to tell me:
WHAT’S RIGHT AIN’T ALWAYS POPULAR…
AND WHAT’S POPULAR AIN’T ALWAYS RIGHT.
People tend to be as faithful as their options, as I was also told once or twice.
Activism isn’t just when you believe the cause affects you directly.
True engagement rests in taking the empathy one might feel for the plight of others into activation mode.
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Let’s Move Accordingly.