‘Free to make choices’: Cleveland Indians don’t cave to mob after pitcher launches controversial vaccine post

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

America is reaching a point where most residents who want a COVID-19 vaccine have gotten it, which still leaves a large percentage of people who have not been vaccinated.

On that note, there’s a large faction of people who have contracted the Chinese virus who feel they now have natural immunity and are reluctant to get poked. There’s also a faction, mostly younger people, leery of the unknown long-term effects of the vaccine just developed, feeling the risk may not be worth it for a virus that they have a 99% chance of surviving.

And for others still, it comes down to a matter of freedom. Freedom to choose. Which is where Cleveland Indians pitcher James Karinchak comes in with his anti-coronavirus vaccine stance.

A stance that may be related to all the talk of vaccine passports and an inability to participate in society without one. Either way, it forced the team to comment on the issue.

In a now-deleted Instagram Story, Karinchak mentioned Nazi Germany in reference to COVID-19 vaccines.

“NO FREEDOM UNLESS YOU GET A VACCINE,” he posted in the Instagram story.

The post included a quote from Hermann Goering, a leader of the Nazi Party, who was asked during the Nuremberg trials how he got the German people to accept Nazism.

The quote read: “It was very easy, it has nothing to do with Nazism, it has something to do with human nature. The only thing that needs to be done to enslave people is to get them into a state of FEAR. If you manage to find a way to SCARE people, you can make them do what you want.”

On Monday, Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti said he spoke with Karinchak on the issue and disagreed with where the player stood, but ultimately backed his right to speak his mind.

“The vast majority of our players and staff opted for the vaccine and continue to follow the protocols around mask-wearing, and that’s something we’ll continue to encourage and support. But in the end, people are free to make their own choices and decisions,” Antonetti said, according to Fox News.

The Anti-Defamation League of Cleveland condemned the post at the time, releasing a statement.

“Whether it is an athlete, a politician, or anyone else, it is simply not appropriate to compare Covid-19 protocols to the Holocaust. Doing so dishonors the memories of those murdered by the Nazis,” said regional director James Pasch.

Here’s a quick sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:

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Tom Tillison

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