Steve McQueen’s greatest role may have been as a baseball obsessed German POW, the Cooler King. Regardless of the question, Cooler King’s answer related to baseball because baseball was all he ever thought about.
Some people become obsessed with a cause. That obsession can be so strong that they believe it is more important than any other cause. They can fear that any discussion of another worthy cause will steal attention and resources from theirs.
With the Cooler King word association went something like, “popcorn” response; “Peewee Reese” “Why Peewee Reese?” “He was a shortstop and he might have been the one to field a popup.”
Steve McQueen (from the Great Escape)
Obsession with a sport or a celebrity is odd but not irritating (unless you are the celebrity). Obsession with a cause can be irritating to others, though understandable.
In 1967 or 1968 I went downtown to pay my water bill. This was years before the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was passed. As I came to the door there was a young man in a wheelchair trying to get the door open. I opened the door and held it while he got through into the utility office.
I went to a window and got in line. Almost immediately there was a sharp rap on my shoulder. I turned to find a tiny young black woman glaring at me. “You slammed the door in my face.” “What?” “You slammed the door in my face.” “I’m sorry” I said. “You should be”, she said.
I was feeling really hurt. I had just helped some young man in a wheelchair get in and was feeling really good about helping when I was suddenly criticized.
Then I thought, “Is she upset because she is black and feels that the handicapped guy was white and it was a case of racism? Or, was she upset because she thought that, being a woman, I should have held the door open? I paid my bill and left.
Given the time that that occurred, I imagine she thought I was racist. I’m glad I didn’t say, “I didn’t see you” which was true. I might have heard, “Sure, you never see black people!”
The point is that she couldn’t see that I helped a handicapped person for seeing that I didn’t help her. But she was a courageous person who definitely made her point. My consciousness was raised.
We have bloggers like that here. Depending on the writer the answer to any question is “racism” or “sexism” or “anti-Semitism” or “chauvinism” or some other “-ism” depending on their individual life experience. I understand that.
What I don’t think is that saying, for example, that I don’t like Ellen DeGeneres’ humor is evidence of homophobia, or that racism is behind every black-white conflict. (I actually love Ellen DeGeneres’ humor.)
"I used to tell Jackie (Robinson) sometimes when they were throwing at him, 'Jackie, they aren't throwing at you because you are black. They are throwing at you because they don't like you." Peewee Reese
I understand that I may be blind to any bias that I may have, but having someone point out how I am probably biased and don’t know it, and then reiterating that at every opportunity is eventually counterproductive.
I want to scream that I understand white privilege, and I’ve joined the Hallelujah Lesbian Church and this is not about being lesbian or black, but I smile and say thank you for pointing this out (again).
Nothing that I do can make me truly understand the experience of being black in America. I can understand it on an intellectual basis, empathize, endeavor to be fair and equal, but I can’t truly know what it is like.
I understand male chauvinism. I understand the quiet fury at being paid $0.70/1.00 simply because you are a woman. I have daughters who were both single mothers at one time who could not live on their wages while men doing the same job could.
I’ve tried to imagine having to pretend to love another man because heterosexuality was considered a mortal sin punishable by stoning.
I’m not the only one who gets it on many of these issues.
If I write about how to make applesauce I don’t need a diatribe about how the apples were picked by poor Mexicans who had to live in the shed out back where Lupe or Maria had her baby without medical care; or an expose on the horrors of alar and the beauty of black spots on organic apples.
If I complain that I couldn’t find some variety of apples which is my favorite for making applesauce it’s all right to explain about the late freeze in Michigan where most of those apples grow. And it’s all right to tell me that some state passed a law making it a criminal offense to hire migrant workers without a green card and there weren’t enough workers to pick the apples.
Understand that I’ve never made applesauce. I was just trying to find an example to illustrate my point. This isn’t about applesauce…or baseball.