Dan Le Batard Openly Defies ESPN Memo On How To Discuss Refugee Ban
As the current president's administration continues to target, marginalize and event violate the civil rights of Americans, more and more people in the media and the public eye are standing up to say that enough is enough.
Regardless of what many people with a computer or a smart phone may believe, famous people and non-political media actually do have a right to address the state of our union. In fact, with the way that things are going, they have an obligation to do so.
There is an uprising of citizens in this country who refuse to back down from public scrutiny because they realize that we are in danger of seeing history repeat itself. They understand the ramifications of not fighting back. They know that the stakes are too high to be silenced by their employers. They are risking public backlash because they can see the road ahead and they refuse to go down that road willingly.
The stated intention of teaching our school children about populist, nationalist and fascist regimes - and the devastation that they have unleashed on innocent citizens of their nations - has always been to equip them with the knowledge to recognize and neutralize such threats in the future.
And that's exactly what those school children are now doing.
On Monday morning, ESPN host Dan Le Batard revealed that the company had sent an internal memo to its employees detailing how they were expected to address the ongoing political strife in the wake of Trump's refugee ban and the ensuing protests.
He also revealed that he hadn't read it, and had no intention of doing so.
While remaining as respectful as possible, the American son of Cuban exiles passionately and politely disobeyed his bosses' requests to only discuss the refugee ban and the protests in the context of a sportsperson's comments about it.
"This feels like the weakest possible way that ESPN can enter this discussion, using Steve Kerr as a meat shield," Le Batard said.
"This country is in a place that we've never seen before. Nobody listening to this program has ever seen this country in the place that it is right now, where airport is shutting down because of things that feel un-American."
He went on to detail the problem with trying to limit political speech by television talent in the digital age, when plenty of celebrities use social media to express their views on hot button social issues.
"This is a problem that ESPN has, that all of sports has, right? The genie is out of the bottle on Twitter and social media...and ESPN is trying to keep this genie in the bottle by sending out a memo that doesn't allow us to talk politics. But [ESPN coworker] Sage Steele...she is a trending topic now all across the country because she took a picture at LAX and wrote this..."
So THIS is why thousands of us dragged luggage nearly 2 miles to get to LAX, but still missed our flights. Fortunately, a 7 hour wait for the next flight to Houston won't affect me that much, but my heart sank for the elderly and parents with small children who did their best to walk all that way but had no chance of making their flights. I love witnessing people exercise their right to protest! But it saddened me to see the joy on their faces knowing that they were successful in disrupting so many people's travel plans. Yes, immigrants were affected by this as well. Brilliant. ??
A photo posted by Sage Steele (@sagesteele) on
Le Batard pointed out the hypocrisy of allowing this kind of expression from an employee while simultaneously trying to restrict personal commentary on their most popular shows.
“The genie’s out of the bottle on this because we all have our own Twitter accounts and we all have our social media on this. And this is what ESPN is trying to prevent...because once one person does it, it opens the floodgates for the rest of us because of course, I, as the son of exiles, look at this and I’m like 'what the hell are you talking about, your travel plans were affected? What are you talking about?' It’s the height of privilege. And so once you start opening that portal, you get ESPN on ESPN crime. You get all this stuff that ESPN doesn’t want to have as people think of ESPN as liberal leaning. But you can’t give this a voice and then muzzle the rest of us."
As someone who has never had a problem pushing the boundaries - and who understands the plights of refugees and exiles in America - Le Batard can provide much needed insight and perspective on these issues. Whether ESPN will allow him to continue to be that voice for an under-represented group of people still remains to be seen.
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