Sunday, June 25, 2006

Chronicle's Ortiz On Ozzie The Ignorant

As a rule I try and put in links to "stuff" that I want people to read, but in this case I've just got to put the whole article. It's an article about a baseball manager written by a sports writer and before you say "I don't care for sports".... it's not about sports, it's about what's right from what's wrong. It's one of the best eye opening pieces I've read in the Chronicle in a long, long while. Jose De Jesus Ortiz has written an excellent book, Houston Astros Armed and Dangerous, that's a must-have for Astros fans.

June 24, 2006, 11:23PM


Guillen remains as ignorant as ever

Anti-gay slurs reveal manager's offensive behavior

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

CHICAGO - Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente and Felipe Alou broke barriers and paid heavy prices while eliminating stereotypes so America could look at Latinos and African-Americans with respect. At times, they bit their tongues. On important occasions, they spoke loud and led the chorus for the rights of their people.

Because of people such as Robinson, Clemente and Alou, now we rarely ever see characters such as Buckwheat of the Our Gang movies or the hapless Latino character that you once saw in old Westerns. Robinson, Clemente and Alou are reasons their people are no longer looked upon as caricatures.

Sadly, however, Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is setting his people back with his series of ignorant and vulgar rants. Free speech is not really free. Words have meaning, and stupid words can cost you in terms of reputation.

Somehow because he was given a gift to pick grounders instead of grapes, Guillen has been allowed to become a social critic. He also has been given a pass because he's Latino and most folks aren't savvy enough to call him on his lame, "well, in my country ... " defense.

He has played the Venezuelan card way too often. He has come under fire twice in the last two years for using anti-gay slurs. Both times he has claimed his comments were appropriate because in his country those slurs are used to mean coward. Actually, Ozzie, there is a word for coward in Spanish. It's cobarde, and you are one each time you throw your fellow countrymen under the bus by lowering the expectations for them. As long as we pretend we cannot hold minorities to the same standards we hold white leaders, the underlying message is that Latinos need the bar lowered for them.

If Guillen were a white male, he would have been fired or at least suspended for his comments. Ozzie, did you ever hear of Al Campanis? Marge Schott? One lost his career in baseball over ignorant comments about African-Americans. The other drew a suspension for a series of racist and anti-Semitic remarks.

Guillen drew a fine and was ordered to undergo sensitivity training for his slurs. Nobody, however, has bothered to call him on his ignorant comments against other Latino groups.

Before Game 4 of the World Series last year at Minute Maid Park, Guillen claimed Dominican-American star Alex Rodriguez wasn't Latino because he was born in this country.

He has made similar comments about Mexican-American Nomar Garciparra.

He claims that you're only Latino if you speak Spanish or if both your parents were Latino or if you were born in those countries. Those are Guillen's dangerous comments, because some in the media give him the platform to preach that ignorance.

Asked Saturday about those thoughts and if he realized just how ignorant he sounds, Guillen stuttered through his defense while defending those beliefs.

"I'm more Latino than you," was his parting shot to a Mexican-American reporter.

If Guillen wasn't given a platform, it wouldn't matter what he says. You don't get mad at your fourth-graders for ignorant comments. You just try to educate them. Great defensive skills can buy a shortstop many things in this country. It cannot buy class.

In baseball, not many men have done more for minorities in recent decades than White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who has led commissioner Bud Selig's fight for diversity hiring and has the front office to prove it. For that reason, it is sad that Reinsdorf is being represented by a caricature in the manager's office.

Why is it fair for Guillen to spout ignorant statements about other Latino groups?

Because "he's Hispanic?" Reinsdorf said innocently Friday before adding. "I don't think I want to get into this."

Pressed, Reinsdorf tried to clarify.

"People are less likely to be offended when an Hispanic guy makes comments about Hispanics," he said. "Like, we tell Jewish jokes. People laugh at them. If you told a Jewish joke, people wouldn't like it."

Reinsdorf was asked if he would be offended if someone accused him of not being Jewish enough.

"No, because I ain't very Jewish," he said before chuckling. "You got to know who it's coming from. Ozzie has no mean bones in his body. He doesn't mean to offend anybody, but sometimes his mouth gets ahead of his brain. That's all it is."

There's a big difference between folks laughing with you and at you, Ozzie. Ozzie, you're not funny.

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