The Slatest

ESPN Analyst Curt Schilling Compares Muslims to Nazi-Era Germans

Curt Schilling and the Phillie Phanatic at an Aug. 2 game. (The Phanatic is on the left.)

Hunter Martin/Getty

Update, 4:40 p.m.: ESPN has suspended Schilling, who says he accepts the network’s decision. ESPN did not announce how long the suspension will last.

Original post, 2:19 p.m.: Former star major league pitcher Curt Schilling is, as they say, no stranger to controversy. He famously endorsed George W. Bush while playing for the Boston Red Sox in 2004. (Bush’s opponent that year, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, won 62 percent of the vote in his home state.) After retiring he founded a video game company that collapsed and reportedly lost $75 million in taxpayer money. He’s also just generally a disputatious kind of guy. Of all Schilling’s ventures into public argumentation, none was as obviously an unforced error as this tweet, which he sent out Tuesday:

(Chris Lingebach is a D.C. sportswriter.)

This was an ill-advised move on Schilling’s part for multiple reasons:

  • The retweeted meme image itself is nonsense. For one, the idea that there are between 80 million and 160 million “extremists” in the population of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide seems like an arbitrary, hard-to-prove claim.* (The idea might be related to a poll that showed somewhere around 12 percent of Muslims would under some circumstances support attacks against civilians.) For another, Nazi party membership is not synonymous with support for or particpation in Nazi activities; well over 7 percent of the population served in the German army under Hitler, for example. Finally, Germans elected the Nazis to power, but Muslims in general don’t take votes on how ISIS and Hamas should behave. Obviously.
  • Curt Schilling is not just a civilian; he’s an analyst for ESPN, which might not appreciate one of its baseball commentators flying off the handle and insulting billions of people. (Then again, maybe he’ll get a raise.)
  • The immediate consequence of the tweet was that observers online—most prominently Aaron Gordon of Vice—noticed that Curt Schilling owns or has owned a bunch of Nazi memorabilia, some of which Schilling himself has described as creepy.

Schilling has apologized for and deleted the tweet.

Correction, Aug. 25, 2015: This post initially evaluated the claim that 80-160 million Muslims are terrorists; the meme Schilling retweeted in fact says 80-160 million Muslims are extremists.