In a recent interview with Time Magazine, Ozzie Guillen, the Venezuelan-born manager of the newly-christened Miami Marlins, who was hired in part (in addition to leading the 2005 Chicago White Sox to their first World Series championship since 1917) to help boost interest and ticket sales as the team moves into its brand new half-a-billion-dollar tax-funded Marlins Park stadium in the Little Havana section of Miami, said that he “loves” Fidel Castro.
“I respect Fidel Castro,” Guillen clarified in one of his “typically stream-of-consciousness Ozzie” oratories. “You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a b—– is still here.”
Controversial words, especially in Miami. Fans immediatedly picketed at the stadium. Sports commentators nationwide prognosticated on whether an appropriate punishment of Guillen would be job termination or just suspension.
Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard expressed the concern felt by Miami’s Cuban-American community, comparing Castro to Hitler.
The following day, Guillen flew down to Miami on the team’s off day, to issue an apology that was aired live on ESPN.
But some, like The Nation sports editor Dave Zirn, have expressed another kind of concern. They are worried that this episode, brought on by Guillen’s comment that appears to be more about Latin pride than political affiliation, is the latest chapter in the long story of silencing challenging standpoints, while celebrating those in sync with mainstream public opinion, and the underlying power structure that those views uphold.