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Jewish World Review Dec. 31, 1999/22 Teves, 5760

Larry Elder

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John Rocker: Designated bigot? -- "WHITE RACISM EXISTS," "National Review" editor John O'Sullivan once said, "But its social power is weak. And the social power against it, overwhelming."

Too bad white Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker did not consult with O'Sullivan before Rocker shot his mouth off. In a recent issue of "Sports Illustrated," John Rocker treats us to a view of his Archie Bunker-esque thinking. An important member of the Braves team that beat the New York Mets in the playoffs, Rocker offered his thoughts on the Big Apple, "Imagine having to take the (Number) 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're (riding through) Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids."

About New York, Rocker said, "The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?" He called a black teammate a "fat monkey," and criticized the way Japanese women drive. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. But in the "Sports Illustrated" article, Rocker himself "bemoans the fact that he's not more intelligent ... " Are we surprised that someone who admits lacking intelligence says unintelligent things?

The skies now rain bricks on Rocker. "The attitudes and the opinions expressed have no place in our game or in our society," said baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, "The remarks are under review and we will take the appropriate action."

The Anti-Defamation League and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urged baseball to punish Rocker. Hall of Famer and Atlanta Braves executive Hank Aaron questioned whether Rocker could even continue in baseball!

Let's go to the videotape. Black Green Bay Packer defensive end Reggie White on Hispanics: "(They) were gifted in family structure ... they can put 20, 30 people in one home." On white people: "Blessed with the gift of structure and organization." On black people: "Very gifted in what we call worship and celebration. A lot of us like to dance. If you go to black churches you see people jumping up and down." On gays: "Homosexuality is a decision." On Asians: "Gifted in creativity ... they can turn a television into a watch." On Native Americans: "(they avoided slavery because they) knew the territory, and the Indians knew how to sneak up on people."

What did the NFL commissioner say about Reverend White's anthropological observations? No comment.

Following an NBA playoff game, black Detroit Piston members Isiah Thomas and Dennis Rodman accused Larry Bird, a white player, of receiving praise only "because he is white." With a boys-will-be-boys wave, NBA Commissioner David Stern dismissed their remarks.

NBA's Charles Barkley, annoyed at reporters' post-game questions, said, "That's what I hate about white people." No League comment. Sir Charles just being Sir Charles, right?

Tiger Woods, in a recent "Gentleman's Quarterly" article, made an unseemly joke about gays. Did the golf tour demand an apology? No. And the gay and lesbian magazine, "The Advocate," simply attributed Wood's remarks to his youth and naivete.

According to authors Jeff Benedict and Don Yaeger, in their book Pros and Cons, better than a fifth of NFL players have been charged with serious crimes, including attempted murder and sexual assault. And many NFL players convicted of crimes continue to play.

No one keeps figures on the number of illegitimate children of NBA players. But ESPN broadcaster Len Elmore said, "For every player with none, there's a guy with two or three."

NBA's Latrell Sprewell attempts to choke his coach and gets traded to a bigger town, a better team, and ends up earning more money.

But President Clinton, like most Americans, wants Pete Rose admitted into the Hall of Fame. Never mind that Rose refuses to admit to gambling on baseball, let alone apologize. Judge Rose, say the fans, by his on-the-field performance as a player. Yet people want Rocker expelled from baseball for his off-the-field remarks.

Rocker, of course, denies being a racist, and issued an apology. But, so what? America has a zero tolerance for white bigotry. The late Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder got the hook for racially insensitive remarks. So did the late L.A. Dodgers General Manager, Al Campanis. And golf's Fuzzy Zoeller lost 2 million dollars in endorsements for making "racially insensitive" remarks about Tiger Woods.

As for Rocker, do we really care what this "role model" thinks or says?

Hate, someone once said, is far too strong an emotion to waste on people you don't like. Or on boneheads.

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©1999, Creators Syndicate