Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Nothing specifically personal"

I'm telling you right now, I'm going to need a neck massage, the way people are making me shake my head in disbelief and dismay (that awful combination).

But here was Terry Frei, until recently a sportswriter for the Denver Post newspaper. You look at his website, and it would seem that he is well-read and well-informed and part of the larger world in which we live.

And then you read his tweet from the night of the Indianapolis 500, and you wonder what unlocked the door behind which he used to hide stupid statements.

This year's Indy race, in which I have as much interest as I would have in watching people discuss which flavor of rice cake is tastier, was won by Takuma Soto, a fact I would never have known had Frei not chosen to tweet this following dumbness:

"Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend."
The publisher of the Post, Mac Tully, and the editor Lee Ann Colacioppo, put out a statement the next day saying that Frei "is no longer an employee of the newspaper."   
This is what upset Frei so much

"We apologize for the disrespectful and unacceptable tweet that was sent by one of our reporters," the statement reads. "It’s our policy not to comment further on personnel issues. The tweet doesn’t represent what we believe nor what we stand for. We hope you will accept our profound apologies.”

Shortly thereafter came this from Frei: "I apologize."

He went on to say, "I made a stupid reference, during an emotional weekend."  Frei's father was a World War II veteran, which apparently accounts for his emotional state. I don't know. My father fought in that war too, and during his time left on earth, he bought and drove Volkswagens and Hondas.

Frei, four-time winner of the coveted "Colorado Sportswriter Of The Year prize," later tweeted a lengthier apology...
I fouled up. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I said when I said it. I should have known better and I regret it. I in no way meant to represent my employer and I apologized to The Denver Post.
On Sunday, I was going down to Fort Logan National Cemetery to place flowers on the grave of and to salute my father, Jerry Frei, who spent the four-year gap between his sophomore and junior seasons at Wisconsin flying the F-5 unarmed version of the one-man P-38 fighter plane in the 26th Photo Squadron. (And I did make that visit.) He flew alone, or with a partner in a second plane, over Japanese targets in advance of the bombing runs. When Blake Olson of Channel 9 asked him about being unarmed, he laughed and said, ‘I had a pistol.’ He flew 67 missions, crossing the 300 combat hours threshold, and earned the World War II Air Medal three times. I have written much other material about American athletes in World War II. I researched and wrote quite graphically about the deaths of my father’s teammates, Dave Schreiner and Bob Baumann, in the Battle of Okinawa. I have the picture wallet containing photos of his family and girlfriend that Schreiner was carrying when he was killed. That is part of my perspective.
I am sorry, I made a mistake, and I understand 72 years have passed since the end of World War II and I do regret people with whom I probably am very closely aligned with politically and philosophically have been so offended. To those people, I apologize. (In fact, the assumptions about my political leanings have been quite inaccurate.) I apologize to Takuma Sato. I made a stupid reference, during an emotional weekend, to one of the nations that we fought in World War II — and, in this case, the specific one my father fought against. Again, I will say I’m sorry, I know better, and I’m angry at myself because there was no constructive purpose in saying it and I should not have said it, especially because The Denver Post has been dragged into this.
Terry Frei

Well, now he is out of a job, and what newspaper would hire him, now that he has shown what sort of ill feelings he harbors? Could anyone expect him to write an objective account of a game involving anyone born outside of the United States?

Image result for robert benchley isn't it remarkable
Advice Frei should have taken
Robert Benchley was an early hero of mine, and I always remember words he wrote in a piece for The New Yorker entitled "Isn't It Remarkable?"

"We are constantly remarking on the fact that things are done well by people other than ourselves.  'The Japanese are a remarkable little people,' we say, as if we were doing them a favor. 'He is an Arab, but you ought to hear him play the zither.' Why 'but'?"

Benchley said those words in 1936, and here we are, 81 years later (yes, I had to use the calculator) still being surprised that a man can win a race in spite of the fact that he is not descended from the Pilgrims. 

I see that Frei has written several books. Watch for his next one to come out, a searing self-evaluation about his journey to reality. Maybe he'll even learn to play the zither! 

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