The Activist War on Reality Accelerates



Josh Gibson.

Major League Baseball changed its official records list yesterday, to incorporate Negro Leagues players. Homestead Grays star Josh Gibson, by many accounts the greatest catcher ever, is now baseball’s leader in batting average at .372. Ted Williams and his .344 lifetime average drop to 10th, behind Buck Leonard and Turkey Stearnes.

The Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV had a bit called Unnecessary Surgeon! Dr. Jake Sloan would declare: “I’d like to remove your mucous membranes.” When the confused patient asked why, he’d snap: “What medical school did you go to?” Same with this. Here we understand this impulse. We all would like to go back in time and make it so greats like Gibson, Satchel Paige and the original “Bullet” Joe Rogan could compete with the Babe and Jimmie Foxx.

Of course putting players like Gibson atop records lists of leagues they weren’t allowed to play in not only doesn’t accomplish that, it whitewashes MLB’s segregated history, in addition to making records books a jumble of apples-to-grapefruit comparisons. Like a lot of activist-motivated changes (see below), it also creates new future controversies, in this case inevitable future demands that Sadaharu Oh’s 868 replace Aaron’s 755, or that Ichiro Suzuki, who like Gibson and Paige could have smashed MLB records in alternate past, supplant Rose and Cobb as hit king.

But as Kurt Vonnegut would say, so it goes. It’s sports. They at least mean well. We’re now in about the twentieth year however of a similar phenomenon with language that’s less innocuous. Change is good — I’m one of the few old Red Sox fans who loves the new yellow uniforms — but busybody intellectuals in recent years have launched campaign after campaign to perform unnecessary surgery on the English language. For a long time, liberals like me who didn’t want to be bad sports just shrugged, but many of the fixes had serious political consequences, going around Congress to change society without a vote.

Now the process is now accelerating so fast that even fairly recent alterations are coming under attack, sending us hurtling toward Year Zero:

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