Sticking My Hand In A Hot Pot

By Mario Fraioli

At the morning shakeout, I generally try to avoid stirring the political pot, but as the son of an immigrant I can’t stay completely quiet regarding some of the recently established policies currently affecting my country in a major way. The United States is a nation built by immigrants and refugees seeking opportunities for themselves and their families. My grandparents, dad and uncle fall into this boat. I wouldn’t be who or where I am today if they weren’t welcomed here decades ago and offered the chance at building a better life. Many of our country’s best leaders and brightest minds, including Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Albert Einstein and Sergey Brin—children of immigrants or immigrants and refugees themselves who have all fundamentally shaped our country, if not the world, in a significant way—also fall into this boat. And many of our top athletes, including track and field stars like Meb Keflezighi, Bernard Lagat, Sanya Richards-Ross, Lopez Lomong, Leo Manzano, Abdi Abdirahman, Brenda Martinez, Hillary Bor, Paul Chelimo, Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir, amongst others, all of whom have represented this country with unmatched pride on international stages, won major races or taken home Olympic medals, fall into this boat as well. Immigrants have always made this country great and are the foundation that our best values are built upon. And to this point, none of them were discriminated against because of where they hailed from or what god they chose to worship. The executive order targeting immigrants and refugees from certain countries and preventing them from seeking a better life in America is unfounded, ignorant and discriminatory. The boat is sinking fast and that’s worth speaking up about.

+ “When I saw the news, I cried,” Lomong recently told Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden. “I was very emotional about it. What if that document had been signed in 2001? Where would I be? I would have no career. I would have no degree. I would probably be dead.” Sobering read on America’s flag bearer at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, who, per our president’s recent executive order, would not be allowed in this country today due to the fact he was a refugee from South Sudan.

+ “My story is an example of what can happen when you follow polices of compassion and understanding, not hate and isolation,” double Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah wrote in a strongly worded statement on his Facebook page over the weekend. Farah, a British citizen who was born in Somalia and has called the U.S. home for the past six years, won’t be affected by the aforementioned travel ban despite initial fears that he wouldn’t be allowed back in the country.

+ After Meb Keflezighi won the New York City Marathon in 2009, Darren Rovell wrote this ill-informed piece for CNBC and then ate his own words the next day. Anyway, Rovell’s words struck a nerve with me then, and I still stand by this piece I penned for the blog I kept at the time. “Contrary to Rovell’s claim that Keflezighi is ‘like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league,’ Meb was not ‘imported’ here from Eritrea to win medals in the marathon,” I wrote a little over seven years ago. “This isn’t a case of Qatar buying its athletes from Kenya. Keflezighi came here as a 12-year-old, much like my own father did, because his parents wanted to provide him the chance to take advantage of opportunities he otherwise never would have had. Just because he wasn’t born on native soil doesn’t make Meb any less American than the son of a soldier born on an army base in Germany. Just because he wasn’t born here doesn’t put Meb at a genetic advantage over anyone with the letters ‘USA’ emblazoned on their birth certificate. That’s unfounded and it’s a load of horseshit. If anything, not having being born in this country gave Meb — someone whose worked hard toward everything that’s he’s ever accomplished in his life — an unmeasurable advantage over the most ungrateful domestic complainers who expect everything in life to be handed to them.”

+ To end our discussion on a lighter note, I’ll admit that I laughed at this tongue-in-cheek piece from the witty Mark Remy, aka Dumb Runner, over on his website. “The metric system is a disaster,” he continued. “Look at the countries using it. France. Germany. South America. They’re failing, big league. They’re falling apart. Not us. Not us. We’re going back—and by the way, when I was in military school I was a tremendous athlete, everyone said it, I used to run the 440, won many awards, probably could’ve gone to the Olympics, decided not to—but the metric system, all these meters and kilowatts and K’s and all of these things, they’re going away, OK? They’re going away.” [Don’t worry track diehards, this is an actual example of fake news.]

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