OK, I can now allow that perhaps Krueger did not have malice in his intent (and I'm using my lunch hour to admit this). There was a nice column
in the Contra Costa Times by Neil Hayes espousing what the commenter bacci40 was saying, that you have to take Krueger's comment in context.
What bacci did not note, which would have been pertinent and which Hayes did note, was that Krueger was actually trying to praise Alou in his rant but then said that his mind was "Cream of Wheat". A faux pas that appears to be, a "backhanded compliment" as Hayes put it, but it was a compliment on Alou's past, as Krueger saw it, and a dig on Alou's present, as Krueger now see it. Hayes also noted that he is a frequent guest on the show, so that means that he is not totally an objective bystander either, like any of Krueger's co-workers who have been essentially defending him but acknowledging the stupidity of the comment.
I was also listening to KNBR on the way to work this morning and Gary Radnich had a number of caller call in to contribute what they have heard. One noted that this was not Krueger's first insensitive comment, perhaps also racial in nature. One night there was a discussion of Chinese gymnasts (don't remember the sport exactly, I think it was gymnastics, but am certain it was some type of athletics) and he went on a rant about their looks and about how ugly they were. The caller noted that there were a lot of calls of protests to the station about that. Another guy called in to say that this isn't 1965, why don't people lighten up.
Another called to say that Krueger once devoted a whole show to racism, as he chastised two Montreal announcers for their racist take on some players. Lastly, Reggie Jackson called in and talked about his humiliating experiences when he was in the minors on a Southern team and how he was helped by a number of white players on his team - Joe Rudi, Dave Duncan, Rollie Fingers - and by his manager, John McNamara. He also talked about how he felt like many people - it appears to be an unfortunate mistake - but then saw Felipe Alou's face in interviews regarding this issue and he felt compelled to call into the Giants and let them know that he supports Alou totally in this. He asked all listeners to look at Felipe's face when Felipe is discussing this issue to see the pain in it and then they will understand. I would be interested to hear what others have heard in the past from Krueger, but OK, perhaps Krueger didn't have malice in his comments.
However, that does not flush away the pain it has caused. The common theme I am getting from all the apologist is "Yeah it was inappropriate, but..." But but but. BUT BUT BUT. BUT BUT BUT!!!
It isn't 1941 either BUT the genocide humanity witnessed as the Germans rounded up the Jewish for mass extermination was repeated about 50 years later in Bosnia and in Africa. There are now even people who claim that the German genocide of the Jewish never happened. It is not 1965 but there was that poor black man dragged to death behind a car not that long ago and we will recall Rodney King's horrific beating. And in a local shopping mall, because I had the effrontery to be shopping in a store with my wife but happen to be standing in her way, this woman told me, "why don't you go back to where you came from?" Maybe if the caller had a relative or friend killed in a massively horrible way or been treated abominably when you were not doing anything remotely wrong, then he will understand why people don't "lighten up."
This is not to say that we as a country haven't made massive strides forward in the past 40 years. However, there are still people who share these racist feelings, only they know now that it is not PC to expose their feelings out in public, so they keep their feelings deep, like cockroaches of their minds, coming out in the shadows of their actions. As the oft-quoted phrase noted, "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." And even mildly innocent comments like this, whether intended or not, pandered to people who share these feelings, and, more importantly, hurt good people's feelings.
I would liken this to an accidental shooting death between friends or relatives, perhaps even brothers. There may have been no malice involved. It may have been in the heat of the moment. It was an unfortunate mistake. And yet the results are very real and very hurtful.
Some will say this analogy is overboard, that you cannot compare a death with words. This is not kindergarten where sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you. If you haven't been the innocent victim of racism, sexism, ageism, any -ism there is, accused or hated for no other reason than something you were born with, then you really don't know how it feels when you are treated this way. Vigilence in combatting such insensitivity, inadverdent or not, unfortunate or with malice, is the key to stamping this out of our culture, out of our society, which I believe is the greatest in the history of the world.
That's partly why I feel so strongly about this. I cannot imagine living anywhere else in the world, this time, this place. I feel privileged and thankful that my ancestors decided to take the huge risk to come to America, and not without loss, as we lost relatives in coming over, though luckily not as many as others. And, honestly, I never felt like anything but an American while growing up until reality stepped in and some kids decided to make my heritage a big thing. I was blissfully ignorant of such issues until I was double digit in age, which was lucky for me, others learn about reality at a much younger age.
America should be better than this, the ideals of our founding fathers espoused in their documents should be the goal, and people who say insensitive comments like this should be dragged across hot coals. I felt the sting when I looked at my mother's face while she told me about the racist things that happened to her and will never forget it. And so I try to my best to make sure no one else has to talk with their mom or dad and see the pain caused them by "insensitive" and "unfortunate" comments.
Lastly, haven't noted this yet but I agree with the sentiment that he should not be fired from his job for this. But really, all he got in punishment for his statement is a week's vacation essentially; basically a slap on the hand, as Felipe put it. And that is an insult to the pain that he has caused with his statements. And a sign that KNBR and Krueger don't really get it, don't understand the magnitude of it; perhaps, even worse, don't care. And because of this lack of understanding and lack of quick action, the issue is growing to the point where there may be no other alternative.