I wanted to share my thoughts on the Joe Ricketts emails from the perspective of an American Muslim and Cubs fan. (I have to refer to Joe as Mr.Ricketts after this because I have too much Midwest in me to call someone 20+ years my senior "Joe") As some background, I grew up in East Central Illinois as part of an immigrant family. I think I had a pretty normal childhood - I played sports, had no game with girls, and "going out for dinner" meant Ponderosa (I was an adult before I learned what a steak should actually taste like). When we were attacked on 9-11 I was serving as a young lieutenant in an infantry battalion. I would continue to deploy to both Iraq and Afghanistan for the next 7 years: first as an infantry officer and later as a Special Forces commander. I don't know if "assimilated" or "neighborly" is the right word to use, but I think people who know my family would say that we are as much a fabric of the towns we live in as anyone else.
I've been a lifelong Cubs fan and besides a few odd years, it was tough to root for the Cubs when more than half your neighbors were Cards fans. Regardless, I have stuck beside the Cubs through thick and thin. I took my dad to his first game after a deployment back in 2003 or 04 (we lost to the Cards in a pathetic defensive effort). His take as a Muslim immigrant on being in the bleachers where people were cursing, yelling, and spilling beer left and right? "That was amazing. We have to do this again." In 2008 I watched us crash and burn at Dodger stadium. In 2016 I cheered alongside strangers and bought them drinks (as a Muslim I don't drink) as we hugged and high fived one another. There is something special about how sports can bring people together. It doesn't matter what your race, religion, sex, or politics are. We just want our team to win.
So when I read that what Mr.Ricketts wrote - it definitely hurt me. Not because someone feels this way about Muslims or people of different ethnicities or color. We all have a crazy uncle or relative who has views that we don't agree with. We don't have to agree. That's one of the many things that makes America great. We have the freedom to believe what we want and express what we want. It is different, however, when the owner of an organization you identify as being part of, slanders something you believe very strongly about. It hurt because he owns a team I feel very passionately about and identify with.
To be clear there are very few things I identify with:
I identify as being an American - something I had the luck to be born as.
I identify as being Muslim - a personal choice
I identify as being a veteran - the greatest honor of my life has been to serve alongside the best men and women in America.
I identify as a being a doctor caring for the sick and wounded.
I identify as a Cubs fan.
Is this a non-issue because Mr.Ricketts "is not involved in the operations of the Chicago Cubs in any way."? Please. Come on now let's be serious. Mr.Ricketts is the man behind the curtain. It was through his money that he bought the Cubs as something that his family could run and keep his family together (which I respect on many levels). To say that he isn't involved with the Cubs is absolutely asinine. For all intents and purposes, Mr.Ricketts is the Cubs owner. He made the money, he bought the Cubs.
Do I believe that Mr.Ricketts's bigotry extends into his family? I have to go with what I've seen and I don't think so. I believe in actions more so than words and everything I've seen from Tom Ricketts has been to make the Cubs a very inclusive organization. Have the Cubs been money hungry? Yes. (someone please tear down that damn Nuveen sign). Have they been racist? Bigoted? Insensitive? I can't say I've seen them do anything but keep Wrigley field "the friendly confines". Pete Ricketts asked his father to fact check his craziness before forwarding emails. Let's face it, what can you really say when your dad has crazy views that you know you're not going to change over an email. Every game I've been to in the past 4 years at Wrigley I've seen Tom come by and greet fans - and I'm definitely in the cheap seats. That says a lot to me.
Am I going to keep being a Cubs fan? Yep. In the end, Mr.Ricketts may own the park and pay the players and staff but the Cubs belongs to the fans. Honestly, I don't think anyone has ever cared that I'm Muslim. Furthermore if someone tried to talk about politics or religion during a game at any house, bar, or gathering I would think that would be grounds for removal or a beatdown... I've never felt anything but acceptance from other Cubs fans.I love being able to go into any city in America and know there is a loyal following. That we can talk team history, laugh and cry together. That we can do it in a respectful way and when we are beat we admit it and not blame it on the umpire (but we will gladly blame it on goats and fan interference). When we win we are gracious and offer to buy our opponents a beverage to ease their loss. That no matter if we are in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, or Mexico City - we pass on our team to the next generation - so they can learn to suffer the way we have. :-)
So what do I want Mr.Ricketts and the Cubs organization to do? Well I think Joe Maddon said it best: "Try not to suck".
For Mr.Ricketts specifically - if he really doesn't believe what his emails imply then he should personally seek out the groups he maligned and engage in conversations with them. He's entitled to his opinions, but if he wants to clear his name, then at least make an effort to understand the peoples he has slandered.
For the Cubs organization, and this is what I truly care about, I can tell you that the canned response I've heard from the Cubs is most certainly not enough. Let's not try to put paint on the wall when its filthy. Clean it up first. I'd like to see the Cubs organization proactively reach out to Muslim, Black, and Hispanic groups. Start programs to educate fans and the organization on some of the many sacrifices minorities have made (as an example - take a moment and read about Sergeant Henry Johnson, a MOH recipient. Ask yourself why he's not a household name and why was he treated so badly by a country he gave so much to). I'd like to see greater efforts by the Cubs to make people of all ethnicities welcome at games and as fans.
As a personal appeal to anyone reading this - if you harbor bad feelings about a certain group, give them the courtesy of at least engaging in dialogue with them. Find out if what you heard on FoxNews/CNN/Facebook/Instagram is true or if you're just hearing one side of a story.
Most of all I'd like us to win another championship. Go Cubs Go!
I've read the boards for years so but I never before felt a need to post, so I had to actually register for an account and wait for it to be approved in order to make this post.
I originally posted a version of this as a comment in the thread on Joe Ricketts. At the suggestion of other fans, I decided to post it here as well.