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America’s Xenophobic, Sexist, Bigoted Uncle Wants to Run for President

Getty Images
Getty Images

Curt Schilling wants to be the president of the United States. He announced this Sunday on his ever-buzzing Facebook page, specifying that his plan is to win state office first and then be in the White House in eight years — “or 4 if by some amazing illegal event this country elects another clinton.” (The illegal event being … a democratic vote?)

If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about the former All-Star pitcher, here’s a refresher. In 2010, he became an analyst for ESPN, where he most recently appeared on broadcasts of Monday Night Baseball. He cultivated an active social media presence, through which he frequently voiced his political views, stretching from garden-variety the Democrats are crooks to various shades of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other forms of bigotry. In August, ESPN suspended him for a month after he posted an anti-Muslim meme to his Twitter account and a companion post to his Facebook page. This wasn’t unusual for Schilling: He had long used Facebook to disseminate bigoted, hateful, and misleading images about Muslims. Nevertheless, he returned to the air with the network despite showing little contrition.

In April, Schilling again used his platform to spread hate, this time about transgender people in apparent support of North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2, which legislates which public bathrooms people can use based on their “biological sex.” ESPN fired him two days later. He said he was shocked: “To be in a place where people actually believe I’m a racist or I’m transphobic says to me that something has gone horribly askew somewhere,” Schilling — who, again, had been in the business of peddling racist and transphobic memes — told a Boston sports-talk radio show in the aftermath.

And now he wants to become a politician. Schilling saying he might run for office is like your crazy uncle who posts all the bad memes declaring his candidacy — except Schilling might actually be able to win some votes. He has shown a remarkable ability to appeal to a certain kind of far-right conspiracy lover: Look at the comment section beneath any story about his suspension or firing from ESPN and you’ll gaze upon an unusually vicious bunch of mostly white, mostly male avatars raging about the creep of PC culture. (Hi, guys! Welcome to The Ringer!) ESPN suspending Schilling for posting bigoted, hateful images to his Facebook page didn’t shame him into cleaning up his act, and it certainly didn’t turn off his followers: His page remains a hub for his often radical beliefs, and for his loyal fans to express praise for them. It is a place where a man who circulated a graphic that compared Muslims to Nazis is asked if he might run for president. It is a place where he says he’s planning on it. It is a place where people post #‎Schilling4President‬.

So when Schilling says he’s planning to run for office — he says he has his eye on the White House, but the following applies even if his only aspiration is to shake up the Medfield, Massachusetts, school board — it would be wise to pay attention. ESPN terminated him only after days of public outrage forced the network into action. Imagine what Schilling can say now that no one is holding him accountable.