REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL
AIRS TONIGHT (4/17) @ 10:00 PM ET/PT
“Finally, it’s worth noting that tonight marks the 51st anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion. That, of course, has nothing to do with sports; but it has lots to do with the rhetoric that’s followed the heavily publicized comments of Marlins’ manager Ozzie Guillen.
Back in 1961, the ill-fated invasion was fueled by Cuban exiles who had convinced two U.S. administrations to help them launch an attack on their former homeland. An attack that was easily repelled by the forces of Fidel Castro, and the Cuban masses who the invaders had mistakenly hoped would rise up and help them. Ever since that failure, exploiting anti-communist fears to portray Castro as a monstrous boogeyman has been a cottage industry in Florida and Washington. While many have certainly assailed Fidel, and still do, for very legitimate reasons. Others simply hate that he overthrew their dictator, Fulgencio Batista, whose corrupt government helped them enrich privileged Cubans, and American interests, at the expense of the country’s poorest people.
Given that backdrop, when the manager of the Miami Marlins recently said that he essentially admired Fidel for his longevity, it wasn’t surprising that a number of Castro’s critics demanded not just Guillen’s job, but his head to boot. And while there is no way to defend Ozzie or the blatant insensitivity of his remarks, let’s not pretend there’s no politics at work in some of those calls for his ouster. Whipping up a frenzy, over slights real and imagined, is a play straight out of a far-right handbook and Florida’s electoral clout has often given Fidel’s critics far more leverage than their arguments merit.
If the Marlins start winning, the furor will, most likely, die. But for many, I doubt Ozzie’s words will ever be forgotten. Cuba may have been a foreign battlefield 51 years ago tonight, but it’s a domestic minefield now and for a variety of complex reasons, still a dangerous subject on which to tread.”