Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Meb Keflezighi

Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me that Mebrahtom Keflezighi’s win at the New York marathon has become controversial. Even though Meb, an American citizen who immigrated to the United States at age 12, never ran a step before he was trained in running programs here in the US, there have been a number of people who are questioning whether he is “American enough” to claim victory under the hallowed flag of our forefathers.

Most criticism I’ve read of the people espousing this view point to racism as the explanation, but I have my doubts. I think the post 9-11 xenophobia cultivated over the 8 years of the Bush administration is more to blame. Hey, Meb has a funny name and he was born somewhere else. This alone makes him suspect to the legions of red state mouth-breathers who’s closest brush with a marathon was probably when they passed by their TV Sunday morning on their way to the kitchen for another plate of biscuits and gravy.

In North America, except for the Native Americans, everybody is an immigrant. My grandfather came to this country from the ass end of Poland in 1918, became an American citizen and worked his tail off so his kids could have a better life. He would have scratched his head at the idea of someone criticizing someone who has been here for 20 years as not “American” enough. As someone pointed out in a letter responding to the Times article on this subject, “All the comments about when you become a REAL American miss the point. A country of immigrants should be thrilled to see that one person of recent immigration succeed.” And so I am.


  1. I live in a deep red state and I haven't heard a negative word about Meb.
    I'm thrilled seeing a bald American runner win a major marathon!!

  2. Let's hear it for Bald Americans. I suspect the NY Times is trolling again, although their story got lots of comments by angry people everywhere.