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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Oakland A’s Bench Coach Apologizes for Making Accidental Nazi Salute

Aaron Bandler is a staff writer for the Jewish Journal, mainly covering anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias. Originally from the Bay Area, his past work experience includes writing for The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller and Townhall.

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Aaron Bandler
Aaron Bandler is a staff writer for the Jewish Journal, mainly covering anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias. Originally from the Bay Area, his past work experience includes writing for The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller and Townhall.

Oakland Athletics bench coach Ryan Christenson issued an apology on Aug. 6 for accidentally making a Nazi salute when he greeted a player in the dugout earlier the day.

The A’s had beaten the Texas Rangers 6-4 at the Oakland Coliseum that afternoon. A video clip circulating on social media shows Christenson waiting to greet pitcher Liam Hendriks in the dugout with his arm extended in what critics said looked like the Nazi salute. He and Hendriks then bump elbows and Christenson extends his arm again.

 

Christenson apologized in a statement, saying that the salute was completely accidental.

“Today in the dugout I greeted players with a gesture that was offensive,” he said. “In the world today of COVID[-19], I adapted our elbow bump, which we do after wins, to create some distance with the players. My gesture resulted in a racist and horrible salute that I absolutely do not believe in. What I did is unacceptable and I deeply apologize.”

The A’s said in a statement that Christenson’s gesture “looked like a Nazi salute” and condemned it.

“We do not support or condone this gesture or the racist sentiment behind it,” the baseball team said. “This is incredibly offensive, especially in these times when we as a Club and so many others are working to expose and address racial inequities in our country. We are deeply sorry that this happened on our playing field.”

 

The American Jewish Committee tweeted, “Thank you, @Athletics, for your unequivocal condemnation of Ryan Christenson’s deeply offensive gesture. Anti-Semitism has no place in sports or anywhere in America.”

 

Christenson told the San Francisco Chronicle that when he had his arm extended, Hendriks told him, “No straight arm, you have to bend your arm.” Christenson replied, “Oh no, it’s like ‘Heil Hitler.’”

The Athletic reported that sources in the A’s organization don’t believe that there was any racial intent behind Christenson’s gesture. One said that Hendriks typically does a karate chop as a gesture that’s what Christenson was waiting for. Another said that Christenson’s gesture seemed “like a coronavirus social distancing joke to me. Trying to keep distance. I’ve been running in far away from the line with my arm outstretched, too.”

Longtime Bay Area sports columnist Tim Kawakami, the editor-in-chief of The Athletic, tweeted that it’s tough to make “moral judgments” about a person from a six-second video clip.

“If the decision is whether somebody is an abominable person intentionally making an offensive gesture … or if it accidentally just looks like it out of context, I will lean toward not presuming somebody is abominable,” he tweeted. “THEN if we find out otherwise, I will lead the charge.”

 

Henry Schulman, the San Francisco Chronicle’s beat writer for the San Francisco Giants, tweeted, “I’m a Jew and son of Holocaust survivors. I do not believe after six years in the majors and a lengthy coaching career Ryan Christenson suddenly decided it would be fun to celebrate a win with a Nazi salute. I believe him. Glad he apologized and understands offense. Let’s move on.”

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