I like baseball. I’m not even entirely sure why I like it, but I do.
Maybe I like baseball because I am an American, and it seems like the perfect American expression of freedom to go out on a nice evening, of my own choosing, take my family and watch a baseball game. It makes me feel free, maybe more than anything else does. Your thoughts and cares could all drift away in what it symbolizes.
At least until opening day for the Tacoma Rainiers on Thursday.
This wasn’t baseball. It was a nightmare, and it felt like watching 24-hour cable TV news coverage of imminent terrorists attacks.
I got there early to get in before the game started, but found long lines of people as far as I could see, waiting to get through “security” screening. We walked all the way across the parking lot to the overlook onto state Route 16 and stood on the hot black asphalt for an hour in 78-degree heat in the sun. No shade. No water. No restrooms for people.
People were unhappy and hot, and some were fearful of having nowhere to relieve themselves.
By the time we got to a screening station, security personnel were searching the purses of women before they even got to metal detectors. The line we had originally gotten into had doubled in length behind us, and people were angry.
But the problem is far deeper. If we have to be treated like this to see a baseball game in Tacoma, then the battle is already over and we have lost everything that freedom really is. The only thing that terrorists have ever planned on getting from us is to terrorize us and change our behavior. This is their victory – making us suffer and live in constant fear, even when just trying to see a baseball game.
The really dumb part is that no one would ever actually attack a baseball game. The place is filled with more security and police officers that just about anywhere in Pierce County when a game is being played. No such plan could be successful. The risk of being injured by a baseball or an overserved patron is infinitely higher.
And there is no need to attack us when we do this to ourselves; the terrorists have already won.
This is an insult to soldiers who fought so we can live free in America. We’ve lost our freedom to watch a baseball game without cowering in fear in an overheated parking lot for an hour and being treated like animals because a foreign terrorist somewhere has deemed that we will now will live this way.
My son fought several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 173rd Airborne, U.S. Army Infantry unit. He was wounded in combat and is disabled. I spent 25 years in police work keeping our communities safe. These things were done so we could live free as Americans in our own country, not as fearful cowards.
Once in the ballpark, I was kind of stunned to hear the national anthem played. It seemed misplaced, and I was oddly uncomfortable to hear it just then. I didn’t feel like I was in the land of the free and home of the brave anymore. I was just embarrassed by the extent of the freedoms we had just given up for additional mindless and pointless “security” – security that does nothing more than to prove just how weak, fearful, insecure and beaten we have evidently become, even at a baseball game.
I’m not going back, and I hope others will consider doing the same as long as we are treated like this. It’s not freedom, it’s not American and it’s certainly not baseball in Tacoma.
State Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, represents the 31st Legislative District in the House of Representatives.