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What Makes a U.S. Citizen a "Citizen?"
November 3, 2009 4:06 PM   Subscribe

For the first time in 27 years an American has won the New York Marathon. Meb Keflezighi (a 2004 Olympic U.S. Silver Medalist) is "thrilled to win his first marathon ever." However, CNBC reporter Darren Rovell deemed Keflezighi's victory an "empty win" because he "is technically American by virtue of him becoming a citizen in 1998, but the fact that he's not American-born takes away from the magnitude of the achievement...Nothing against Keflezighi, but he’s like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league." Keflezighi was born in the African country of Eritrea and "...immigrated to the United States at age 12...he is an American citizen and a product of American distance running programs at the youth, college and professional levels."* Oh, the last American to win the New York Marathon: Alberto Salazar. He was born in Cuba who came to the U.S. when he was 2 years old.

"Huh. I wonder what it could be about Keflezighi that could make some folks feel he's not American enough. And nah, there's no racial element in the opposition to Obama. How dare you even think it, you reverse-racist, bolshevistic lackey." *

"Fox News Reports: American Wins NY Marathon, Kenyan Wins US Presidency."*

"Meb learned to run when Ethiopian soldiers would pounce on his village, grabbing any child over 10 to help them shoot and kill the others....Oh, yes, the New York race on Sunday was far more than the blistering time of 2:09.15. It was about victory. It was about triumph. But, more than anything, it was living and vivid proof this thing we often call too callously 'the American dream' has hardly dimmed but is as alive today as when other immigrants filed through Ellis Island many years ago."*
posted by ericb (100 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
**headdesk**

CNBC is on my watchlist now.
posted by muddgirl at 4:08 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Holy shit; Rovell's blog post is totally uncalled-for. That's bullshit, there.

"Technically a citizen", my ass.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:09 PM on November 3, 2009


CNBC reporter Darren Rovell "issues convoluted sort-of" apology.
posted by ericb at 4:09 PM on November 3, 2009


Good job, Meb. It's all those slow bastards that are ruining running.
posted by fixedgear at 4:10 PM on November 3, 2009


Hey, if you're not on a reservation you're all only technically citizens.
posted by GuyZero at 4:12 PM on November 3, 2009 [22 favorites]


opuntia | Nov 3, 2009 12:02 PM ET
So, you wrote an article/blog without doing any research...you sir, are an idiot.
This is, quite possibly, the first time I've ever completely agreed with a comment on a news story or blog article on a news site. I'd buy opuntia a drink if I could.
posted by muddgirl at 4:12 PM on November 3, 2009


A couple hours, 22 years. Whatevs.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:13 PM on November 3, 2009


I remember catching a whiff of this in the Summer Olympics coverage as well. I could be misremembering, but to my eyes, the coverage seemed to be focus strongly on Ryan Hall (blonde hair, blue eyes, American born) while giving little attention to Meb. Not that Ryan isn't a great runner, but he lagged early and came 10th, while Meb came 2nd...
posted by Hutch at 4:14 PM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


"...technically a reporter"
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 4:17 PM on November 3, 2009 [13 favorites]


he's a citizen. he wanted to be a citizen. he did the work to be a citizen. the US had a winner, by virtue of having a country people want to move to.
posted by Glibpaxman at 4:17 PM on November 3, 2009 [16 favorites]


My grandfather was "technically an American" when he took the oath of citizenship in his broken English, and, still wearing his good shoes and clean white shirt, went out onto the street, took a deep breath of the air of a free country, and beat the crap out of Darren Rovell's grandfather.
posted by Faze at 4:19 PM on November 3, 2009 [15 favorites]


As someone who one day may be a citizen of the US: what an ass.
posted by Paragon at 4:20 PM on November 3, 2009


I guess this just goes to show, hard work doesn't make an "American".
posted by yeloson at 4:20 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dude is more American than most, considering the fact that he actually had to do something in order to earn the right to call himself one. I was just born here.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:21 PM on November 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


How fantastic that Meb won! He's an incredible runner, and this is a richly deserved win.
posted by bearwife at 4:22 PM on November 3, 2009


From the comments:

None of these so-called "American born" runners donned a USA singlet on Sunday, choosing instead to wear the colors of their corporate sponsors. Only Meb wore "USA" across his chest. This says tons more about how American he is than any of your drivel above.

Wow.
posted by effugas at 4:23 PM on November 3, 2009 [74 favorites]


"Mr. Keflezighi claims that he is a U.S. citizen," said Orly Taitz, leader of the so-called Birthers movement. "However, I have information proving that his citizenship papers were forged by a witch-doctor in a mud-hut in Eritrea."

O RLY?

Sorry, I'm easily amused by loony folk with amusing sounding names. Oh, and Orly Previously.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:24 PM on November 3, 2009


He's given credit to the U.S. for his success, but I'm not sure we deserve it.
posted by oaf at 4:27 PM on November 3, 2009 [20 favorites]


The Great American Melting Pot, my ass. Jerk.
posted by Malor at 4:28 PM on November 3, 2009


The Smith family had a long tradition of sending its children to Ivy League schools. However, the last generation or two of the Smith family have not produced any Ivy League students. There is much concern in the Smith family about this, and they wonder if they are not properly preparing their children academically. A few years ago, the Smith family adopted a young teen. This teen has been accepted to three Ivy League schools. The Smith family is extremely proud of this teen they adopted, but they can't help but think that the Smith family is not entirely responsible for the teen's success. So the Smith family continues to be frustrated that they are not able to get the children that they raise into Ivy League schools.
posted by flarbuse at 4:28 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hmm...and what about Nastia Liukin, Susan Francia, Anna Tunnicliffe, Phil Dalhausser, Kerron Clement, and Sanya Richards? All of them are non-native-born Americans who won gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, and were--rightly so--accepted and praised for their achievements as representatives of their country.

This reporter, though? Maybe he's a racist, maybe he isn't. What he is most certainly is, however, is an idiot that couldn't think of anything intelligent to say about the marathon, opened his mouth anyway, and got his foot lodged firmly in his throat for his trouble. Congratulations to Mr. Keflezighi.
posted by jedicus at 4:31 PM on November 3, 2009


Americans like Keflezighi make me proud to be an American as well.

Americans like Rovell make me ashamed.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:33 PM on November 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


What could possibly be more of an American archetype than the immigrant who comes to the United States - the land of opportunity - and through hard work triumphs more than she or he could have in their own country?

Oh! I know! Having a totally uninformed opinion based on something you either assumed or think you heard somewhere without bothering to do any research to actually confirm that your belief is true. That is, in fact, more American.

Carry on!
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:34 PM on November 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


I read stuff like this and can only think back longingly to the first few weeks after Schwarzenegger became Governor of California and a visibly-moist Peggy Noonon gushed about the fulfillment of the American Dream™ while conservatives started openly asking why that pesky little Constitution couldn't be fudged just a little to make him President a week ago.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:35 PM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


First: Running marathons is an affront to God.

Second: CNBC reporters are terrible, even on topics they are supposed to talk about.

Third: If this dude had grown up and spent most of his adult life running in Eritrea and only recently became a US citizen, I'd agree that it would be a little hollow. I felt that way about Olajuwon on the '96 US basketball team.

Fourth: These things shouldn't even be spun as a competition between countries. The idea that some individual athlete "represents" a country is what feels hollow to me.
posted by mullacc at 4:35 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


OUTRAGE OUTRAGE OUTRAGE
posted by America at 4:40 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


filter filter filter?
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:44 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY
posted by stavrogin at 4:45 PM on November 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


MUSHROOM, MUSHROOM
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:49 PM on November 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


Wow, that reporter is both a disgusting racist AND totally ignorant of the history of the U.S., the nation that immigrants built (well them, and slaves). DOUBLE KILL
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 4:49 PM on November 3, 2009


You pretty much copied this from deadspin.
posted by dead cousin ted at 4:55 PM on November 3, 2009


WE'LL SELL YOU THE ENTIRE MARATHON BUT YOU'LL ONLY NEED THE HHooooorj
(based on my own running experience)

I'm pleased that the comments on the CNBC page are so against Rovell.
posted by boo_radley at 4:57 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


My favorite part:

"He is an American citizen thanks to taking a test and living in our country. "

As opposed to Darren Rovell's Herculean effort towards becoming a citizen wherein he flopped out of his mother and promptly shat himself.
posted by Justinian at 4:57 PM on November 3, 2009 [31 favorites]


With added outrage fit for metafilter, of course.
posted by dead cousin ted at 4:57 PM on November 3, 2009


I would like to congratulate George Washington on his recent victory at Yorktown. Despite his recent adoption of US citizenship at the relatively advanced age of 45, I feel this is very much a victory that all British people can be proud of.
posted by Sova at 4:58 PM on November 3, 2009 [24 favorites]


Not everyone reads deadspin.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 5:00 PM on November 3, 2009


"He is an American citizen thanks to taking a test and living in our country."

Yeah, wanting to be here enough to leave your friends and family behind, overcome the obstacles and succeed in the effort and work it takes - so much less a distinction than being popped out of someone's womb. And taking a test in the eighth grade and living in the U.S.
(What's this 'our' country kimosabe? You did exactly - what- to legitimately be here? Cover f'ing sports? Spit seeds? Eat hot dogs? Yeah, that there's some community service. "I happen to be a fan of branding" - oh, there's an f'ing surprise.
So - you're an amusing self-promoting talentless clown who's an expert on colored sugar water saying an immigrant who is an actual athlete who actually works hard and accomplishes something tangible isn't a 'real' American?)

"If any of them stand on the top step of the podium in Central Park one day, that's when I'll break out my red, white and blue."
I'm sure he's real sorry about this. (But those people do all have natural rhythm too, don't they? ... what, it's not a put down.)
That's kind of what sticks in the neck. It's not just that he's a racist, or classist (they run good because they're poor), but that he's everything wrong with being an American Idiot. (And Jeezus, he's in Evanston. I could drive over at recess and push him down, make him cry, steal his lunch money... Hope I don't see him at Northwestern) His job is sports. To know sports. He comments on sports. He's a sports guy. He's written books (ostensibly) on sports. Does sports radio. Writes sports columns. And. He's. Wrong. About. Sports.

"It turns out"? Keflezighi moved to the United States in time to develop at every level in America? So, what, after the guy wrote his piece, suddenly this heretofore secret information about his history was made public?
Guy didn't silver for the country in 2004 in one of the most dramatic wins in Olympic history? What, that information just wasn't f'ing high profile enough since it's only the second entry when you google his name?

He apologizes for the comparison? Ok, but where's the breaking out of the red, white and blue?

Rovell is everything wrong about the U.S. and the entire reason people hate on America for being pig-ignorant, overbearing, privileged, flag waving while self-serving, provincial racist with delusions of competency.

Mebrahtom Keflezighi, who's father's life was threatened by the Ethiopian government, who came to the U.S. and labored as an immigrant to give his kids a better life (his kids who are out of high school have six undergrad degrees, an MBA, an MD, a JD, one of them graduated from Stanford), the guy who put himself through UCLA, got a degree and inspires kids as a role model by working hard and persevering, that guy is a 'real' American. That guy I'd break out the red, white and blue for when he passes.
Attention seeking shills like Rovell, not so much.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:01 PM on November 3, 2009 [33 favorites]


I find that Rovell article oddly comforting because I'm on page 6 of the comments and there isn't a single commenter who's not outraged.

My expectations of Americans have gotten so low that I expected it to be about half and half, at best.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:11 PM on November 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm not gonna add to the Rovell-hate, because lots of folks have that covered (and rightly so), but wanna point to the Roy Exum bit, instead (last asterisk in the FPP). That guy puts up a pretty good huzzah! for Meb. Even if he calls him 'Mel' a few times.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 5:19 PM on November 3, 2009


Wow, Rovell is a shallow idiot and a world class dick.
With less than a half-mile remaining in yesterday's New York City Marathon, his victory all but sealed, Meb Keflezighi kept pointing to his white singlet. Pointed to the three red letters across his chest.

USA.

It had been 27 years since an American, Alberto Salazar, last won the 26.2-mile race through New York's five boroughs. So when Keflezighi crossed the finish line first, he immediately broke into tears.
SD High Grad Wins NYC Marathon.

To have dickheads like Rovell piss all over his achievement makes me sick and I feel certain that if Keflezighi was an import from a Scandinavian country that Rovell wouldn't have even written a word questioning the citizenship of the winner. Rovell would be all USA!USA!USA! and pouring on the patriotic flag waiving that shouldn't really matter.
posted by birdherder at 5:20 PM on November 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


I find that Rovell article oddly comforting because I'm on page 6 of the comments and there isn't a single commenter who's not outraged.

I hate to harsh your buzz, but that's probably because the only people reading it have been following links like this and the one on Deadspin about this guy talking about how horrible a person he is. The rest of the entries on his blog have maybe one or two comments, so if they were read it wasn't by the commenting type.

In conclusion: OUTRAGE OUTRAGE OUTRAGE
posted by America at 5:24 PM on November 3, 2009


Rovell is just a product of thirty years of Republicans telling us who the real Americans are: white-skinned, straight, God-fearin', burger-eatin' patriots. Poor, deluded guy. Any more outrage simply deserves to be focused at his brainwashers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:25 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's kind of past satire and into "being a total dick" but:

I feel certain that if Keflezighi was an import from a Scandinavian country that Rovell wouldn't have even written a word questioning the citizenship of the winner.

I know! It's so awesome being white! I am actually a foreigner living in the US taking away a job from actual US citizens! But since I'm white no one ever hassles me! Thanks massively racist and under-educated Americans!
posted by GuyZero at 5:27 PM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Okay, Rovell is a bonehead. That was just a dumbassed thing to say out loud and a breathtakingly stupid way to say it. But.

Look, Africans win our marathons and there's no right or wrong about it, they just do. Keflezighi is an American but he was born of African-stock and raised in Africa. Like every other winner in recent years. Saying "Whew, an American won!" is totally true but you have to admit there is also has to be a little "yeah, but..." there.

Not to dump on his magnificent achievement (holy crap, he ran for 26.2 miles and beat a ton of people!! I couldn't) at all.
posted by codswallop at 5:30 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


birdherder: "Rovell would be all USA!USA!USA! and pouring on the patriotic flag waiving that shouldn't really matter."

I know this is a simple typo, but it's pretty appropriate!
posted by brundlefly at 5:31 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, Rovell is a bonehead. That was just a dumbassed thing to say out loud and a breathtakingly stupid way to say it. But.

Look, Irish win our drinkathons and there's no right or wrong about it, they just do. O'Malley is an American but he was born of Irish-stock and raised in Ireland. Like every other winner in recent years. Saying "Whew, an American won!" is totally true but you have to admit there is also has to be a little "yeah, but..." there.

Not to dump on his magnificent achievement (holy crap, he drank 26 beers and beat a ton of people!! I couldn't) at all.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 5:42 PM on November 3, 2009


Basically you're just making the same mistake/argument as Rovell: immigrants from Africa can't be American, even though every American alive is either an immigrant or descended from immigrants (except for truly indigenous Americans who the immigrants mostly killed off.)
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 5:43 PM on November 3, 2009


Keflezighi is an American but he was born of African-stock and raised in Africa.

Two points:

1) When will your paper, detailing the relative contribution of "stock" vs. training in winning marathons, be published? Alternately, you can just go ahead and list your Works Cited.

2) I think there are 300 million immigrants and immigrant-stock in this country who would disagree with your presumption that your "stock" determines your nationality.
posted by muddgirl at 5:45 PM on November 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Look, Africans win our marathons and there's no right or wrong about it, they just do. Keflezighi is an American but he was born of African-stock and raised in Africa. Like every other winner in recent years. Saying "Whew, an American won!" is totally true but you have to admit there is also has to be a little "yeah, but..." there.

"Yeah but..." I'm pissed off no pure white blood people have won the race lately and am too lazy to look up a list of winners which shows that Brazilian Marílson Gomes dos Santos has won two out of the last 4 races.

Is that what you mean? Cause that is what it looks like to me.
posted by afu at 5:47 PM on November 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


To be fair, Lou Dobbs would have won that race, but he had a blister on his toe from kicking Mexicans all day.
posted by felix betachat at 5:48 PM on November 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Yeah you folks need to understand that when people like Rovell say "American" they mean "white". That's really all there is to it. If you were to show him the outrage in this thread he would just scratch his head and say "But have you seen this guy? He's obviously not from around here! Just look at him!"

The accusations of racism would be totally lost on him.
posted by Avenger at 5:51 PM on November 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Go back far enough, and we're all African. Even Darren Rovell.
posted by rbellon at 5:57 PM on November 3, 2009


Until a giant ground sloth wins a marathon, I will not be satisfied that a REAL American has won.
posted by brundlefly at 6:04 PM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Gonna take the uncomfortable seat next to, but not with, the racists here.

There is a legally recognized difference between naturalized citizens and natural-born citizens, all about which I'm sure Orly Taitz would be happy to tell you. A natural-born citizen of the United States hasn't won the New York Marathon since Bill Rodgers in 1979. Obviously it's idiotic to imply that Meb Keflezighi isn't a "real citizen," but is it wrong to ask why the US has not produced a home-grown winner in that time?

And yes, I would be asking the same question if I were looking at the women's division, in which there have been three UK wins and two Latvian wins this decade.

(And afu, it's a bit unfair to cite 2 out of the last 4, when it's also true to say that African citizens have won 10 out of the last 13.)

My personal view is that it is in fact morally wrong to ask the question I posed, because people win races, not countries, and patriotism itself is morally wrong and divisive. (In fact, I believe that about sports, too.) But I'm arguing against knee-jerk accusations of racism in what, given most people's default set of assumptions, is a legitimate point badly stated.
posted by darksasami at 6:04 PM on November 3, 2009


Is everyone whose name contains "Rove" asshats, or what?
posted by armage at 6:10 PM on November 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


There is a legally recognized difference between naturalized citizens and natural-born citizens, all about which I'm sure Orly Taitz would be happy to tell you.
Legally recognized in what sense? As far as I know, the only place where it's legal to recognize that difference is in determining who can be president. Otherwise, it's illegal to discriminate on the basis of national origin.
posted by craichead at 6:10 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Go back far enough, and we're all apes. Some folks like Darren Rovell just never outgrew that. But then, that IS one of the job requirements at CNBC, right?
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:11 PM on November 3, 2009


born of African-stock

Jimmy the Greek, is that you?
posted by maxwelton at 6:11 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


but is it wrong to ask why the US has not produced a home-grown winner in that time?

The U.S. has. His name is Meb Keflezighi. He "immigrated to the United States at age 12" and "he is an American citizen and a product of American distance running programs at the youth, college and professional levels."
posted by lalex at 6:14 PM on November 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Just to play a little devil's advocate for Rovell, I think he might have had a point if Keflezighi had been a little bit older when he emigrated -- if the institutions of the USA hadn't played a part in shaping him -- just like it's a little bit disingenuous to say "Metafilter's own Steve Wozniak" or something like that. Some of our claims on tribal/community/national pride can be like this and it's a stretch when they are.

I'll bet this is what Rovell was thinking and his basic mistake (which still makes him look sloppy and thoughtless) was that he wasn't careful enough to actually consider Keflezighi's bio closely enough to realize that he's not just a free agent who signed up to play for team USA for a few seasons, he's an immigrant who came here young, identifies with America as his home, and has been shaped by it.

Oh and this:

None of these so-called "American born" runners donned a USA singlet on Sunday, choosing instead to wear the colors of their corporate sponsors. Only Meb wore "USA" across his chest.

Really, it's easy to see how people get confused here. Keflezighi apparently eschewed the true national passtime of selling out, and actually achieved something rather than just reveling in vague American exceptionalism. No wonder some people aren't sure if he's a real American.
posted by weston at 6:15 PM on November 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Look, Irish win our drinkathons and there's no right or wrong about it, they just do. O'Malley is an American but he was born of Irish-stock and raised in Ireland. Like every other winner in recent years. Saying "Whew, an American won!" is totally true but you have to admit there is also has to be a little "yeah, but..." there.

I guess you're attempting humor, but yeah, it would apply there, too. *shrug*

"Yeah but..." I'm pissed off no pure white blood people have won the race lately and am too lazy to look up a list of winners which shows that Brazilian Marílson Gomes dos Santos has won two out of the last 4 races.
Is that what you mean? Cause that is what it looks like to me.


I don't really give a crap either way, I just thought people were way too quick with their PC outrage. You want to throw the "R"-word at any dissenters from the today's two-minute hate? Go nuts.
posted by codswallop at 6:17 PM on November 3, 2009


As an immigrant to American soil, I say on behalf of Mr. Keflezighi that Darren Rovell can eat a bag of dicks.
posted by ooga_booga at 6:19 PM on November 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


Let me get this perfectly clear.

If Keflezighi's parents had moved to the US 12 years earlier, just in time for Meb's birth, and he had been a "natural-born American", y'all wouldn't be spending one second splitting hairs over this?

Of course, Keflezighi's parents would still be from Eritrea, and Keflezighi would still have all the benefits of his "African-stock", so really there's no difference.
posted by muddgirl at 6:20 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ahh, essentialism. Whatever would the asshats of the world do without you when trying to justify their bullshit, I wonder.
posted by Iosephus at 6:22 PM on November 3, 2009


Rovell should check out who the US chose for a real "American" sports honor: flag bearer for the United States during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Lopez Lomong "was one of more than 100 young boys kidnapped by government soldiers from Sunday Catholic mass in his native Sudan at the age of 6. They were taken to a prison where they would be trained as child soldiers. Lomong escaped with three friends and spent 10 years in a Kenyan refugee camp.

He was taken in at age 16 by a family in central New York as part of a program that is known as "The Lost Boys of Sudan." He ran, and ran fast, from a New York State high school championship to Northern Arizona University to a place on the U.S. Olympic team in the 1,500 meters last month in Eugene, Ore., exactly one year after earning U.S. citizenship."

Rovell would probably be outraged that such a "technical" American was chosen to bear the US flag in international competition.
posted by shen1138 at 6:23 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I gotta say, it's pretty heartening to see the comments on Rovell's pages.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:29 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Using language like "African-stock" is bending over backwards for the Racists and sticking your head up your own ass. Of course, "stock" is something that fits into the lexicon of a CNBC staff time-filler. (As may be the feeling that an American athlete not wearing corporate colors can't be a REAL American)

It has reached the point where invoking Political Correctness as a reason to take the opposite position has lost all credibility. Nine times out of ten it means you're a proud bigot or you just enjoy shitting on good things, but are too cowardly to admit it, so you use the worst weasel words of our era. And it's a safe bet you are not the one-out-of-ten who has a valid point, even in MetaFilter. "Not wanting to be PC" is NOT an excuse for ANYTHING. There are ways to be entertaining without Dead Terrorist puppets. And the same goes for using the "Devil's Advocate" label. It essentially means "I'm too big a coward to take responsibility for my own assinine opinions".

Sadly, Rovell's asshattery would be just as Racist if Keflezighi had taken the citizenship oath last week, but the apologist brigade would have something they could 'use'. Deport Rovell and his apologists and Meb Keflezighi For President! Is that 'two-minute hate' enough for you?
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:50 PM on November 3, 2009 [10 favorites]


Why do you even give this guy any attention? That's just what he wants.
posted by smackfu at 6:52 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nobody's talking about "citizenship", they're talking about being an American. An immigrant, even a first-generation immigrant who comes here for a better life and passes the citizenship test is 100% American - we abandoned accidents of birth as determinative of anything worthwhile about 400 years ago. Try to catch up, please.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 6:55 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Y'know, after all his training, I really thought Eddie Izzard was going to pull this one off.
posted by graventy at 6:57 PM on November 3, 2009


“Obviously it's idiotic to imply that Meb Keflezighi isn't a "real citizen," but is it wrong to ask why the US has not produced a home-grown winner in that time?”
What lalex sed.

Plus – while there’s something to be said for a given country’s emphasis on a given sports program, for individual athletes at that elite level, their “stock” just doesn’t matter. You’re as likely to be a genetically gifted Inuit as you are Argentinean when competing at a supreme level. As it is – if you are the product of a program which has a broader emphasis on a given sport, you’re more likely to produce those kinds of athletes.

So – why are all those Canadians so good at hockey? Why aren’t Nigerians great downhill skiiers? Y’know, the greatest downhill skier in the world might have been born in Nigeria, but no one would ever know it because they don’t have a real big downhill skiing program. (Actually there is a great Jamaican downhill skier)

Once training methods are equalized – and many have been since much of the world went digital - it’s pretty much just numbers and program emphasis and giving athletes the chance to succeed. Some programs do that better than others.

It’s not PC outrage. It’s legitimate anger at willful stupidity.

If this guy was just some forklift driver spouting off in a bar, I’d cut him a lot of slack. How does he know who this guy is? And hey, yeah, a lot of … whaddya call ‘em, Kenyans? They do seem to win a lot.
If it were some high school track coach, I might question his expertise, but maybe he’s just insulated or rustic or something.

But no Rovell’s job is sports. He’s in the sports world. He’s paid to comment on sports. He should know this. Hell, I just like running and fitness and *I * know it.

The only legitimate question(s) would be what are the Kenyans doing in their program that the U.S. apparently stopped doing in the late 70s?
For that matter what are the Norwegians doing in their women’s program in the 80s that allowed them to win?

Perhaps Jerry Seinfeld is driving them to the course?

Training, coaching, support, that’s the only stuff that matters to an athletic program.
Saying it’s “stock” is not only completely wrong (and insulting) it’s unbelievably stupid. Especially for someone who should have elementary sports knowledge such as Jessie Owens and the Schmeling/Louis fights, etc.

Ethnicity has nothing to do with athletic achievement. Certainly body type and individual genetics play a role, but the odds any given individual can become an elite athlete are extraordinarily rare. So beyond nutrition and delivery of other kinds of services that allow a given athlete to excel in a country, it’s their athletic program and their own hard work.
Kinda the nice thing about many sports, it’s straight up merit. Doesn’t matter how much money your family has, only matters the time and effort and skill you put in training.
Beyond that it’s a matter of will. And so you win.
Little lines drawn on a map, not so much.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:44 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


My personal view is that it is in fact morally wrong to ask the question I posed, because people win races, not countries, and patriotism itself is morally wrong and divisive.

While I don't agree that patriotism is always morally wrong and divisive, I do think you're on to something here. Lee Greenwood patriotism rings false to me. Why should I be proud just to be an American? I consider myself pretty fortunate to be an American in a lot of ways. I think America, even with its flaws, is an achievement. But proud? What about my birth here and my citizenship gives me any claim of pride or of connection to the achievements of other Americans? Hence my little dig at "vague American exceptionalism" upthread.

Rovell actually gets halfway to this question of why anybody but Keflezighi has any claim on his victory before he veers off -- no, before he pretty much turns around and heads back to the strange idea that national pride should be a matter of birthplace. But it's a good question.

Exum gets closer talking about the American dream, and his point that Keflezighi's story is a shining example of its embodiment as a land of promise and opportunity.

But I don't think it's enough. If you want pride in your community or your nation, if you want to proudly bear some part of the reflected glow of the achievements of people like Keflezighi, it really has to come from the contributions you've made towards making it the kind of place where Keflezighi's story is possible. This is the kind of patriotism that I think Kennedy was trying to invoke, the kind that far from being immoral and divisive instead drives us to invest in the very foundations of dreams and opportunities: in public education as well as private enterprise, in the general welfare as well as the common defense, in the initiative of immigrants as well as the inheritance of our own sons and daughters.
posted by weston at 8:01 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


My complaint to CNBC:

Darren Rovell's comments on the NY Marathon winner were digusting, ill-informed and discriminatory. His pathetic attempt to issue an apology does nothing to excuse his racism. CNBC should be ashamed of itself and I look forward to the appropriate action being taken.

I suggest anyone who cares about this kind of casual racism go here and do the same.
posted by smoke at 8:05 PM on November 3, 2009


Beyond that it’s a matter of will. And so you win.

Yep. In boxing, for example, many people (well, some people) believe that the reason why African-Americans have come to dominate the heavier weight classes (and Latinos the lower) is not because they are "genetically" predisposed to fight, but because for those who are from lower-income families, the sport was their only way out of poverty. Replace boxing with basketball, baseball, football, whatever. If you're poor, sports can be a ticket to success that would be otherwise unattainable (and plus, it's way cooler than being a nerd). That many minorities succeed in sports may be more a sign of how their other opportunities are limited.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:07 PM on November 3, 2009


Wow. It pains me that people are homeless because of hard luck in life and this person has a presumably well paying job writing articles like this one. There is an amazing convergence of prejudice, laziness, disregard for fact, and just plain stupidity that makes me hope he is fired and can never get a job that requires or pays him to have an opinion on anything for a long, long time. I'm glad that the backlash is so heavily against him, but it's nonetheless embarrassing to have an essay like this attached to any notions of what it means to be American.
posted by Schismatic at 8:12 PM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It has reached the point where invoking Political Correctness as a reason to take the opposite position has lost all credibility.

Oh God Yes. Like, 10 years ago. The age of "PC-fascism" is long dead. 99% of what people term "PC-bullshit" is just common fucking courtesy to another human being.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:13 PM on November 3, 2009 [15 favorites]


As opposed to Darren Rovell's Herculean effort towards becoming a citizen wherein he flopped out of his mother and promptly shat himself.

Thanks, I'm now wiping beer off my monitor.

But seriously, Rovell's trying to apologize for just missing the fact that Keflezighi trained in the USA enough to qualify as "one of ours?" And totally avoiding the point that what he should be apologizing for is that hilariously stupid "American-born" stuff? Fuck him.
posted by mediareport at 8:24 PM on November 3, 2009


That was just a dumbassed thing to say out loud

dot. dot. dot.

Saying "Whew, an American won!" is totally true but you have to admit there is also has to be a little "yeah, but..." there.

Yeah, but what? Fucking what? Do you mean?
posted by dirigibleman at 8:49 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I remember catching a whiff of this in the Summer Olympics coverage as well. I could be misremembering, but to my eyes, the coverage seemed to be focus strongly on Ryan Hall (blonde hair, blue eyes, American born) while giving little attention to Meb. Not that Ryan isn't a great runner, but he lagged early and came 10th, while Meb came 2nd...

Yes, you did misremember it. Meb was an Olympian in 2004, Hall was in 2008.
posted by letitrain at 8:53 PM on November 3, 2009


Also, I was dissapointed that Stephen Colbert pretty much went with the same joke last night on his show.* Dammit.

*Though I think the part where nobody says his name correctly is more a slam on the media's complete inability to do even the most basic research [you know, to correctly pronounce a person's name], the beginning was clearly meant to assume he wasn't a "real" American because he wasn't born here.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:57 PM on November 3, 2009


I'd love to know if Rovell could pass the citizenship test. Somehow I doubt it.

But fuck him in the ear anyway, he's a dink who works for the same dink network as Maria Bartiromo (who recently demonstrated her stunning ignorance in a healthcare discussion) and Jim Cramer. A pox upon you, CNBC.

As for the idea a a naturalized citizen isn't a real american in some way, it's absurd.

Is it that Rovell wants to believe that American soil grows superior food to that of other nations, and this advantage must be conferred before age twelve to work its proper magic? That the water here is purer and more conductive to sporting success if ingested before the age of twelve? That the American school system is so fine that the make or break period of Meb's life as an athlete depended on an American education prior to age twelve?
posted by Monsters at 9:33 PM on November 3, 2009


awesome thread

so this guy won a marathon? well i won a mars bar... god that gag is old

good job we dont apply this to football here in england, where the rules about who you can play for can depend on where your granny was from. according to this guy rovell we would have no carlton cole, no defoe, no aaron lennon, no swp, no heskey. er, actually, in heskeys case....
posted by marienbad at 9:51 PM on November 3, 2009


Don't know if Alberto Salazar ever took out citizenship papers, but he is still in Oregon teaching others to run. Strangely, I met him at a funeral.
posted by Cranberry at 11:13 PM on November 3, 2009


Rovell's piece is poorly written, for sure, but it read to me to be saying that claiming this victory as American is denying it from Eritrea, more than him saying that he isn't really American because he's an immigrant.

That second part is in there, of course, but I still don't think he was writing to say, "wait! we're calling this foreign guy American? He's foreign! Hello!" But rather, "Yes, he's an American citizen, but he got his crazy good skills, and maybe we should hold off on the USA! USA! USA! for a runner who got his skills in the states."

Which isn't a view I agree with either, but which at least makes some degree of sense, and which pays some respect to Keflezighi's birthplace and the influence it may have had on his achievement. Or maybe the other view is just something I wish to not believe is existent in modern journalism.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:39 PM on November 3, 2009


Navelgazer: That second part is in there, of course, but I still don't think he was writing to say, "wait! we're calling this foreign guy American? He's foreign! Hello!" But rather, "Yes, he's an American citizen, but he got his crazy good skills, and maybe we should hold off on the USA! USA! USA! for a runner who got his skills in the states."

But Keflezighi moved to the US at age 12. He did get his skills in the States. I'm afraid your charitable interpretation of Rovell's piece may be unwarranted.
posted by purplemonkie at 5:53 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of the things about this year that I was excited for was having people who make my native country look like ignorant racist assholes to the rest of the world finally start to recede from prominence, Mr. Rovell. Recede from prominence.
posted by majick at 6:07 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Meb Keflezighi on 'Late Show with David Letterman.'
posted by ericb at 6:42 AM on November 4, 2009


codswallop: Keflezighi is an American but he was born of African-stock and raised in Africa.

Can you please tell me what actually constitutes American stock?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:43 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, a data point for my long-held belief that first-generation immigrants are the best Americans.
posted by prefpara at 7:01 AM on November 4, 2009


Wow. Usually in cases like this, racists obscure their meaning and intent a little better behind fuzzy language and dissimulation. In this case the veneer is so thin it'd flake off with a breath.

It's the ignorant sort of racism rather than the vindictive, fearful sort (even if it causes him to be cruel and petty) - he simply hasn't grasped that American != euro-ancestry. The whole point of America is that anyone can be American if they choose to be and if they put in the work and the loyalty -- and Kefleghizi has put in a whole shit-ton more work than this self-important, unsportsmanlike keyboard-jockey.
posted by Drexen at 7:24 AM on November 4, 2009


Wow, Rovell's hair is like a 5-alarm flashing klaxon screaming : RUN FAR FROM THIS PERSON! VERY FAR! THERE IS NO HONOR HERE!
posted by The Whelk at 7:40 AM on November 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


There's another level of euro-centrism here - confusing the fact that Africa is a continent and Eritrea and Kenya are countries. Looking back, the African winners of the marathon are mostly from Kenya and South Africa (with runners from Ethiopia, Morocco, and Tanzania each earning a single win). To claim that Meb therefore has some sort of "African advantage" is making a very inclusive definition on one hand and a very exclusive definition on the other.
posted by muddgirl at 7:56 AM on November 4, 2009


Can you please tell me what actually constitutes American stock?

NASDAQ, Caucasian, DJSE, NYSE, White, etc.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:18 AM on November 4, 2009


Africa: bigger than the USA, Europe, China, and India combined.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:26 AM on November 4, 2009


I also found one of the pars further down in the original column queasy-making (because of his overall disgusting drift).

It has been well-documented that since the mid-80's, Americans haven't had much success in the marathon. Many cite lack of motivation as the root of our troubles, as in our best athletes devote their lives to sports where they can make big money instead of collecting the relatively small paychecks that professional running offers. That, of course, is not the case with African runners, who see in the same winner's check a lifetime full of riches.

So Africans are just as money-grubbing as US athletes - but they run cheaper?

(A "lifetime of riches" is exquisitely horribly expressed.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:11 AM on November 4, 2009


He can't be an American because he's not fat and slow
posted by Calloused_Foot at 11:18 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


He is an American citizen thanks to taking a test and living in our country. - Darren Rovell

Well no. He's a US citizen because he took a test and lived here and he swore an Oath of Allegiance. Oh, and his parents wanted to save their sons from getting kidnapped into the Ethiopian army. His father walked endless miles to the Sudan to find work to fund the family's emigration to th US. The family got here, worked hard, raised 10 children (many of whom have gone on to graduate degrees with a lawyer, doctor and MBA in the family).

Frankly, that's a lot more than I was asked to do. I'm here because my mom's people got here on the first boat. In comparison to the gift those of us born in the USA got, how can someone dump on a citizen by choice? The Darren Rovell's of this country have completely forgotten that they got a free ride.

Plus, I can barely express my awe in anyone running a 2:09 marathon. I'm happy to do a half marathon in 2 hours.
posted by 26.2 at 1:12 PM on November 4, 2009


darksasami, I think you'd have to look at the stats. How many elite American runners were there vs. non-American runners. It could just be that there were loads of elite runners from other countries and they had better strategies (running as teams, etc.). Also, despite there being 300m Americans there are lots of popular sports in the US. In other countries marathon running is a national sport and one of the only ones to receive any real backing.
posted by xpermanentx at 2:01 PM on November 4, 2009


Until an Arctodus simus wins a marathon, I will not be satisfied that a REAL American has won.
posted by Minus215Cee at 5:11 PM on November 4, 2009


New York Marathon Winner Tests Positive For Performance-Enhancing Horse
posted by oaf at 10:02 AM on November 5, 2009


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