Editor’s Note: This week, the Boston Red Sox announced that it plans to visit the Trump White House next year to celebrate its 2018 World Series victory. News of the visit raised some questions about why, especially when it comes to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, the favorite son of Caguas, Puerto Rico, who earlier this year criticized President Trump for how he was talking about his homeland, post-Hurricane María. Cora insists that this is an opportunity for him, when he said the following about his going to the White House: “I’m gonna use my platform the right way. I’m not gonna embarrass anybody. Actually, I’m gonna represent 4 million people from back home the right way when we go there.” In response to the news of a Red Sox visit, we wanted to share the thoughts of Boston’s José Massó, who is a legend in the city’s Boricua community. Here is what Massó posted Wednesday night on his Facebook page:
“¡Salsa Divina!” — The Red Sox at the White House: Thanks, but no thanks. How about a visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture instead?
Let me start by saying that I have the utmost respect and admiration for Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox for what they accomplished this year on the field as a team and organization. They have brought pride and joy to our City, and by extension, to our compatriots in Puerto Rico.
Alex’s commitment to our compatriots in Puerto Rico, especially after the devastation suffered from Hurricane María has increased my respect and admiration for him. That extends to the Red Sox as well for their support of Alex in his effort to offer relief for his hometown of Caguas this past January and in the celebration of the World Championship last month.
The Red Sox organization has taken commendable steps in addressing the legacy of racism associated with the team under the late, former owner Tom Yawkey, notwithstanding Yawkey being known for his philanthropy.
The Red Sox organization also publicly galvanized the other professional teams in Boston (Celtics, Patriots, Bruins and Revolution) in urging fans to take a stand after several incidents involving racism at Fenway Park last year.
I take it that the White House has invited the Red Sox organization to celebrate its championship at the People’s House with the President of the United States.
It appears to me that there is something wrong with this picture if in fact they have accepted the invitation.
Unfortunately, these are not normal times when it comes to the person who occupies the White House as the President of the United States.
At this moment, our nation experiences disrespectful public discourse at all levels of society because of a daily barrage of vitriol in the form of comments and tweets from someone who acts more and more like a demagogue than the leader of freedom and democracy. Messages that propagate misogyny, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-immigration, anti-Semitism, and violence. Utterances that promote anti-intellectualism, ignorance, disinformation, mendacity, and anti-freedom of speech and the press. Statements that promulgate disrespect, bullying, support of autocrats, disregard for the law, and democracy. Remarks that spread a disregard for basic human and civil rights, and the Constitution. Views that communicate an embracement of white supremacy, and sow seeds of discontent and division instead of unity, and the empowerment of an oligarchy and kleptocracy.
One has to ask why they would even consider accepting an invitation to enable the “normalization” of this type of behavior and the person who the majority of Americans (and our allies across the world) hold responsible.
As a Puerto Rican and United States Citizen, and a resident of Boston for forty-five years, I found the president’s disrespect of Puerto Ricans on the Island and throughout the diaspora, during and after his visit to the Island after Hurricane María, to be painful. His animosity towards those who dare speak truth to power in addition to his utter lack of empathy to those in need and suffering, further compounds any thought as to accepting an invitation to celebrate by his side.
I have no doubt that Alex is an honorable man, with the intellectual capacity to understand the implications of a visit to the White House by the Red Sox and by him in his role as the leader of the World Champions.
I believe that all of us should honor and respect the office of the presidency.
In my humble opinion, that starts with the person who occupies that office and title. I would venture to say that the majority of Americans would agree that our current occupant does not respect the office and lacks the character preeminence worthy of a president of this great country.
I pray that Alex and the Red Sox organization reflect hard and long before fully committing to visiting the White House under the present leadership.
They can decline with all due respect.
Just recently Mayor Walsh, the City of Boston and the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement honored Alex with the annual Pride of Boston Award at the 13th We Are Boston Gala, celebrating our rich history of immigration and how that tradition continues to make our city what it is today.
How about a celebration at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in lieu of the White House visit?
The organization could go there with the World Series trophy and the team could tour the museum accompanied by their families and host a diverse group of young students.
That would be a statement worthy of the Red Sox efforts regarding racism in Boston and uniting our City. It would be a statement worthy of their collective efforts on behalf of Puerto Rico.
It would not be an embarrassment if they did not go to the White House. It would be disheartening and disingenuous if they did.