BOSTON (CBS) – Remember last month when the Washington Capitals knocked the Bruins out of the hockey playoffs with a game 7 overtime goal by Joel Ward?
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
Because Ward, the Canadian-born son of immigrants from Barbados, is one of a handful of black players in the NHL, a few dozen bigoted fools spewed racist venom towards him on Twitter, a popular online outlet for stupidity and hate speech.
The day after that happened, I commented in this space that we could at least be glad that very few people had taken advantage of this nasty incident to trash the city of Boston and dredge up all the old racist imagery of the busing era, which so many Bostonians have been working so hard for decades to erase.
As it turned out, I spoke too soon.
The very next day, the Globe ran the story on page one with a reference to Boston’s national reputation being “still tainted” by the unrest of the 1970s.
Other mainstream publications made the same reference.
Today, they all owe Boston an apology.
Ward made a crucial blunder in Monday night’s pivotal game five of the Capitals/New York Rangers series, drawing a bad penalty that cleared the way for the Rangers’ tying and winning goals.
And once again, Twitter erupted with derogatory racism.
You can’t blame that on Bruins fans or Bostonians, and it underscores how foolish that whole blame game was.
We can – and should – remain aware of and outraged by the casual racism that still lingers in our culture. And no one argues that Boston – or anywhere in the world, for that matter – is free of that garbage.
But instead of clinging to old stereotypes about people or places, why don’t we all do what many did after these tweets surfaced – demonize the perpetrators to the point where some of them publicly begged for forgiveness?
We can do the same thing to racists that we did to cigarette smokers who inflicted their unhealthy habit on others – ostracize them into full-scale retreat.
All it takes is the proper focus – and no more counter-productive finger-pointing at innocent bystanders.
You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.