Washington Nationals to visit White House, minus their closer

When the Washington Nationals won the first two games of this year’s World Series, I started thinking about a White House visit for the team. I assumed that President Trump would invite the Nats and that they would accept. But I wondered which players would decline to come.

Trump has extended an invitation, and the team will visit on Monday. The players were in town today for a victory parade, so hosting them at the White House on Monday, before they disperse, makes sense.

So far, to my knowledge, only one player has said he won’t attend. That player is Sean Doolittle, the Nationals’ closer.

Doolittle’s decision is no surprise. He’s a left-liberal activist who, along with his wife, strongly supports an aggressive LGBT agenda and the resettlement in the U.S. of a substantially larger numbers of Syrian refugees than the administration wants here.

Doolittle went to college in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was there that a woman was killed by a neo-Nazi during dueling protest marches.

Trump received harsh criticism, including from some who support him, for saying that there were good people on both sides of the protests. I’m almost certain there were good people among the group that demonstrated against tearing down a statue of Robert E. Lee, but the narrative that Trump was condoning racism took hold anyway.

In explaining his decision not to attend, Doolittle emphasized Trump’s “divisive rhetoric and [his] enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country.” Trump’s rhetoric is divisive. Whether he has “enabled” conspiracy theories (“enabling” seems like a weasel word in this context) and whether he bears primary responsibility for widening divisions in America are matters for debate.

In any event, I respect Doolittle’s decision not to attend. If I felt the way he does about Trump, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t attend a White House event, either.

Reportedly, other players are “wrestling” with the decision of whether to attend. They should follow their conscience (to paraphrase what Ted Cruz once said).

However, I hope that they won’t decline the invitation for the wrong reasons, e.g., showing solidarity with Doolittle (there are, I believe, Trump supporters on the team — they are as deserving of “solidarity” as Doolittle) or going along with the D.C. zeitgeist.

It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, joins Doolittle’s boycott. I’ll keep you posted.

NOTE: In the original version of this post, I referred to the Charlottesville killer as “a right-wing fanatic.” I changed my description to “neo-Nazi” because I believe it’s considerably more accurate.

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