Former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee came under criticism Saturday for a tweet attacking Major League Baseball and several corporations that many found bigoted and insensitive.
“I’ve decided to ‘identify’ as Chinese. Coke will like me, Delta will agree with my ‘values’ and I’ll probably get shoes from Nike & tickets to @MLB games. Ain’t America great?” Huckabee wrote.
Huckabee’s tweet was quickly condemned as racist, as many Asian Americans and anti-hate speech advocates have pointed to anti-Chinese rhetoric as a key driver in rising anti-Asian hate – and hate crimes – in the U.S.
Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, responded to claims that he had violated Christian doctrine a day before Easter Sunday, saying, “I don’t take Twitter or myself that seriously but I do take gospel seriously. I truly wish you only joy & continued blessings.”
Huckabee’s daughter, former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, is running for her father’s old job as Arkansas governor. “Do you condone Mike Huckabee adding fuel to anti-Asian hate?” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., asked the gubernatorial candidate on Twitter.
Huckabee’s criticism was also part of a larger backlash against MLB after the professional sports league decided to move its All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to Georgia’s new election law. Huckabee also echoed the conservative ire toward large businesses either headquartered or heavily invested in the Peach State – including Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Microsoft – that have openly opposed the law. Major financial institutions such as Citi and JPMorgan Chase have also expressed concern about the law.
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Last month, the state’s Republican Legislature and governor passed a law that reduced voting access and added more stringent voting requirements. Critics claimed the law was the imposition of a “New Jim Crow” for its disproportionate impact on minority voters, while advocates defended the law’s provisions as necessary security measures.They also say the criticism is overblown and misrepresents the actual contents of the law.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred said in a statement.
Republican lawmakers in the state and across the country have consequently shot back at the companies and voting rights advocates. Many drew comparisons between corporate treatment of the situation in Georgia and some companies’ responses to human rights violations occurring in China.
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“Dear GOP: @MLB caves to pressure & moves draft & #AllStarGame out of Georgia on the same week they announce a deal with a company backed by the genocidal Communist Party of #China,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a tweet responding to MLB’s decision. “Why are we still listening to these woke corporate hypocrites on taxes, regulations & anti-trust?”
“Hey @MLB, how many days of early voting are allowed in China?” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., asked in a tweet.
“Hey Joe Biden, you gonna boycott the Beijing Olympics because of mass genocide?” Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, wrote in a tweet directed at the president over U.S. participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. “Or are you just into hurting Atlanta small businesses that were planning on the all-star game? Americans are sick of this woke BS. @MLB is a disgrace.”
Georgia lawmakers have been fiercely divided over the issue, with Democrats arguing that the decisions of MLB and major corporations are an unfortunate but justified response to an unjust law, and Republicans argue the decisions are unfounded.
“Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected. Unfortunately, the removal of the @MLB All-Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter.
“Today, Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, said in a statement.
“Georgians – and all Americans – should fully understand what the MLB’s knee-jerk decision means: cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included. If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter,” the governor said.
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Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., a fierce critic of the bill, said in a statement, “Businesses and organizations have great power in their voices and ability to push for change, and I respect the decision of the players to speak out against this unjust law.
“It is my hope that businesses, athletes, and entertainers can protest this law not by leaving Georgia but by coming here and fighting voter suppression head on, and hand-in-hand with the community,” the senator continued.
The Atlanta Braves were “saddened” by the decision to move the All-Star Game, the organization said in a tweet, but said the team would “continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities” and that Atlanta has always “been known as a united in divided times and we will miss the opportunity to address issues that are important to our community.”