Dr. Wayne Baker welcomes back popular guest columnist Terry Gallagher.
This is his final column this week …
We’re talking this week about what books (and movies and songs) you might find on a liberal’s bookshelf, in response to reports that Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan gives out copies of Ayn Rand’s novels to his staff.
Well, here’s a suggestion that comes from out of left field (appropriately enough). Mark Harris’s 1956 novel Bang the Drum Slowly is more than a baseball yarn. One of the subplots concerns the contract dispute between the main character, an ace pitcher named Henry Wiggen, and his employers, the plutocrat owners of his team, the Mammoths.
After receiving what he considers an inferior offer, Wiggen says, “I opened it and looked at it and wrote a little note across the top saying I was taught in school where slavery went out when Lincoln was shot, and I stuck it back in the box, never signing it.”
But the major focus of the story is Wiggen’s commitment to sticking up for a teammate, a third-string journeyman catcher who is at a very vulnerable point in his career and his life. Because of Wiggen’s insistence, the catcher remains on the team, and his presence eventually serves to unite them, and their solidarity leads them to victory.
In these days of inflamed and extreme political rhetoric, it’s great to know that we can still see some humor in a comic novel whose hero demands fair pay from his employers. And at the end of the season, we see that good things might come our way if we stick up for the weakest and most vulnerable among us.
Fighting for fair pay? Isn’t that socialism?
And what about sticking up for the weak? Is that a liberal value?
What would Ayn Rand do?
(Want to enjoy this baseball yarn? The Mark Harris novel, Bang the Drum Slowly, is in paperback, Kindle and audio versions at Amazon. The 1974 Bang the Drum Slowly movie, starring Robert De Niro, is on DVD. And, remastered for the Criterion Collection set on the Golden Age of Television, the 1956 Paul Newman version of the drama is boxed with Marty, No Time for Sergeants and more.)
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.