COMMENTARY: Kurt Suzuki wearing MAGA hat condones White Supremacy, oppression during Nationals White House visit


Ian D'Andrea / Flickr

Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki made headlines not for his team’s World Series title, but for controversial footage that showed him donning Trump’s “MAGA” hat during the team’s White House visit.

President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat is a symbol of bigotry, oppression and white supremacy. Baseball is America’s favorite pastime— a symbol of nationalism. Two different symbols with two different meanings. One is divisive, the other is unifying. 

According to ESPN, the World Series champions have been visiting the White House since 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge hosted the Washington Senators.

Nearly 95 years later, Trump hosted the 2019 World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals. On Nov. 4, thousands of Nationals fans attended the ceremony held at the South Lawn. President Trump congratulated the Nationals. Yet, as is customary for the president, Trump used the ceremony to keep the spotlight on himself.

The most shocking surprise came when Nationals catcher, Kurt Suzuki, stepped to the podium to address the crowd. Suzuki professed his love for the crowd and later pulled out a red MAGA hat. Suzuki proudly placed the hat on his head, smiled and joyfully raised both arms.

America fell in love with Nats baseball. That’s all they wanted to talk about,” Trump said. “That and impeachment. I like Nats baseball much more.” 

In solidarity, Trump embraced Suzuki from behind. Nice try Trump— you’re not fooling anybody. One awkward hug doesn’t erase your divisive rhetoric. This ceremony looked like an episode from a reality television show: a consensual agreement between the Nationals and the White House to show unity instead of division. 

It is worth noting that the Nationals’ owners, the Lerners, are Democrats. When Trump attended Game 5 of the World Series, the Lerners didn’t sit with Trump. Trump was not even invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, a privilege usually reserved for guests of honor. 

Instead, the Nationals chose celebrity chef Jose Andres to throw out the first pitch. Andres heads a non-profit organization dedicated to providing meals to victims of natural disasters. In other words, Andres is a humanitarian.

While the Lerners didn’t explicitly say Trump wasn’t welcomed, their actions spoke for them. They don’t support Trump, his divisive rhetoric or his inhumane actions. Most notably, the Nationals oppose Trump’s decision to lock immigrants in cages like animals—holding immigrants at detention centers with unsanitary living conditions. 

It is difficult to believe Suzuki, a native Hawaiian, claimed that his donning of the MAGA hat wasn’t a political move. Of course it was. According to The New York Times, Trump only received 30 percent of votes in Hawaii for the 2016 presidential election. Yes, Trump hugging Suzuki was a metaphor for his desire to win over Hawaii— a state that traditionally votes Democrat.

Unfortunately for the Nationals, they are based in the same city as the president. If they were based in any other city, they probably wouldn’t have attended the White House. They accepted the invitation to celebrate a championship and American nationalism–not to make political statements. However, politics and sports always intertwine.

Trump’s divisive rhetoric, bigotry and support for white supremacy have made great dents in American culture. However, despite Trump’s actions, the Nationals united Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, in celebrating America’s favorite pastime.