After months of vigorous organizing to protest Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott’s alleged anti-Semitic and racist comments, Cincinnati Jews and national Jewish agencies have expressed satisfaction with her one-year suspension from organized baseball.
They also reiterated the Cincinnati Jewish community’s view that Schott’s statements were best taken as a learning opportunity for baseball and for the community.
In a meeting Wednesday, major league baseball’s ruling executive council removed Schott from the day-to-day operation of the Reds and fined her $25,000 after concluding that she used racial slurs while addressing club employees.
Both the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee welcomed baseball’s stand against bigotry and prejudice.
Baseball owners have “sent an unequivocal message that anti-Semitism and racism are incompatible with our national pastime and will not be tolerated,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL national director.
“We hope that baseball’s action regarding Ms. Schott is only the first step in a renewed commitment to fight bigotry within its ranks,” the AJCommittee said.
Kenneth Stern, director of intergroup issues for the AJCommittee, stressed the symbolism of the suspension.
“Beyond baseball, this sends an important message throughout society about how people relate to each other. Behavior in organized sports has the power to set a strong example.”
Michael Rapp, executive director of the Cincinnati Jewish Community Relations Council, stressed that Schott’s punishment was not the organization’s goal.
‘HAS NO PLACE IN 20TH-CENTURY AMERICA’
“From the beginning, JCRC’s position has been to use this odious incident to improve the intergroup situation, not to have Marge Schott’s head on the end of a pike. Marge Schott is not the issue.
“Our goal has been to learn from it, to be a convenient agency to help say that this sort of speech has no place in 20th-century America,” he said.
Echoing Rapp’s sentiments, Jerome Chanes, co-director of domestic concerns for the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, said, “We see this as an opportunity for turning a bad situation into a situation that has positive possibilities for increased sensitivity training and other programmatic initiatives.”
The baseball owners’ group launched the investigation in response to the national outcry over remarks attributed to Schott that came to light last November.
A deposition in a suit filed against her by a former employee alleged that she made racially and ethnically demeaning comments, including the use of the word “nigger” and the term “money-grubbing Jews.”
She also acknowledged in subsequent interviews that she kept a Nazi swastika armband in her home, but said she “never thought of its as anything offensive.”
Shortly after Schott’s comments came to light, the Cincinnati JCRC forged a coalition of local groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Cincinnati Human Relations Council and the Urban League, to call her to task.
This coalition first met with Schott in November, and has held two other meetings since. A final meeting is scheduled for later this month.
Marilyn Krug, president of the Cincinnati JCRC, pointed out that besides the practical impact the meetings had on Schott, the “experience of sitting over the table on a common issue has been wonderful for Jewish-black relations.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.