Racist Garbage Person Tom Cotton Not In Same League As Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson made his major league baseball debut as a Brooklyn Dodger on April 15, 1947, and since 2004, MLB has celebrated “Jackie Robinson Day.” Players, coaches, managers, and umpires all wear Robinson’s uniform number, 42, in honor of the baseball legend officially ending almost 80 years of baseball segregation.

GOP Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas tweeted some garbage platitudes about Robinson on Friday:

75 years ago, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier as the first African American Major League Baseball Player. Today we honor him and his lasting legacy.


As lawyer Max Kennerly noted, Cotton references the "color barrier” Robinson broke without acknowledging the institutional racism that erected it. Cotton, like most conservatives, promotes the white supremacist American myth that the first member of a marginalized group to make a significant achievement was the first who deserved it. But Black baseball players weren’t cluelessly holding their bats from the wrong end before Jackie Robinson came along.

PREVIOUSLY: Tom Cotton Is A Flaming Garbage Racist, Thank You For Coming To Our TED Talk

The critical racist reality is that white players refused to play against Black players in the major leagues for decades. White fans weren’t thrilled about watching integrated teams, either. Republicans are passing "critical race theory” bans in schools that would prohibit any honest examination of Robinson’s “last legacy."

Happy Chandler from Kentucky signed Robinson in 1945, knowing this might cost him his job as baseball commissioner. Brooklyn Dodgers president and general manager Branch Rickey reportedly chose Robinson because he believed he had the strength of character to endure racist taunts and bigoted cruelty without losing his composure. (It’s probably not a coincidence that Robinson died at 53, old before his time.)

Supreme Court Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson faced a similar gauntlet at her confirmation hearings. Cotton, who insinuated that Jackson was a liar and a Nazi lover, was only slightly more subtle than the white players who hurled racial epithets at Robinson.


It's typical of American conservatism that Cotton would celebrate a dead Black American trailblazer while having viciously opposed a living one just a couple weeks ago. Cotton doesn’t realize how much he’s like the white racists in the film 42, and that when they make a movie decades from now about Ketanji Brown Jackson, an actor might win an Oscar playing his own villainous role.

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Conservatives often point out that Jackie Robinson was a lifelong Republican. They predictably offer this fact without historical context. Republicans were still somewhat the party of Lincoln during Robinson’s youth. Branch Rickey, who put his career on the line to advance racial equality, was a Republican, and Robinson later worked with New York Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller, a civil rights advocate.

Robinson endorsed Richard Nixon in 1960, but Nixon promised that he’d support civil rights. It wasn’t an unreasonable assumption at the time, but by 1964, the GOP had removed any reference to Civil Rights from its platform. Robinson presciently warned that “a new breed of Republicans has taken over the GOP. It is a new breed which is seeking to sell to Americans a doctrine which is as old as mankind – the doctrine of racial division, the doctrine of racial prejudice, the doctrine of white supremacy.”

Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater had infamously voted against 1964’s Civil Rights Act, and the Republican National Convention that year was a grotesquely racist display.

From the Atlantic:

“During my life, I have had a few nightmares which happened to me while I was wide awake,” Robinson wrote in 1967. “One of them was the National Republican Convention in San Francisco, which produced the greatest disaster the Republican Party has ever known—Nominee Barry Goldwater.”

Robinson, a loyal Republican who campaigned for Richard Nixon in 1960, was shocked and saddened by the racism and lack of civility he witnessed at the 1964 convention. As the historian Leah Wright Rigueur describes in The Loneliness of the Black Republican, black delegates were verbally assaulted and threatened with violence by Goldwater supporters. William Young, a Pennsylvania delegate, had his suit set on fire and was told to “keep in your own place” by his assailant. “They call you ‘nigger,’ push you and step on your feet,” New Jersey delegate George Fleming told the Associated Press. “I had to leave to keep my self-respect.”

Republicans lost in 1964, but shamelessly adopted the so-called “Southern strategy” in 1968 to win over the very racists who’d objected the loudest when Robinson integrated baseball. A disgusted Robinson told the leading Black member of the Republican National Committee, Clarence Lee Towns Jr., “I suspect that unless the party showed a desire to win our votes, it may rest assured that I and my friends cannot and will not support a conservative.”

He instead supported liberal Democrat Hubert Humphrey and searingly declared in the Amsterdam News, “I have my right to remember that I am Black and American before I am Republican. As such, I will never vote for Mr. Nixon.”

On April 20, 1972, Robinson wrote Nixon’s deputy special assistant Roland L. Elliott and made a final plea for his former party to treat Black citizens with dignity.

I am sorry the president does not understand my concern. Black America, it seems, comes up short as presidents study or give time to fashion standards that are designed to help all Americans when in reality it is a smoke screen.

Black America has asked so little, but if you can’t see the anger that comes from rejection, you are treading a dangerous course. We older Blacks, unfortunately, were willing to wait. Today’s young Blacks are ready to explode. We had better take some definitive action or I am afraid the consequences could be nation shattering.

I hope you will listen to the cries of the Black youth. We cannot afford additional conflict.

Robinson died just a few weeks before Nixon won reelection in a landslide. He became the first Republican presidential candidate to sweep the South after notably ignoring Robinson’s expressed concerns.

It’s clear, though, that Jackie Robinson was no Tim Scott. He would’ve had nothing to do with the modern Republican party, especially Donald Trump and Tom Cotton, who can keep his name out of his mouth.

[The Conversation / How They Play / The Atlantic]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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