JOHN ROCKER: BORN TOO SOON
You remember John Rocker, don't you? The Atlanta Braves pitcher who got in trouble back in 1999 for bigoted comments he made to Sports Illustrated interviewer Jeff Pearlman?
Well, Rocker's back -- sort of. A 4,700-word story about him was posted a couple of days ago at World Net Daily. WND is promoting (and selling) his memoir, Scars and Strikes, which was, um, published in December and apparently ignored by the world until now.
What's most striking about the WND profile is that it reminds you that Rocker became a national pariah when that SI interview came out, but now he just sounds like an ordinary foreigner-averse, gay-hostile, immigrant-bashing wingnut. Really, he should run for office in Arizona.
For starters, he believes that everything bad that happened to him is someone else's fault. WND actually quotes some of the worst of the SI interview (which is still online here), then Rocker comes along to tell us why we shouldn't blame him for his own words:
On ever playing for a New York team: "I would retire first. It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. 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. It's depressing."
... Rocker commented, "I said some things about New York City which in the context they were presented led many people to automatically interpret as racist, xenophobic, or bigoted. And to this day, that’s what I'm most remembered for....
"Pearlman spent nearly 10 hours with me that day and we engaged in numerous very long-winded conversations on everything from how to throw a breaking ball to the effects of a flawed U.S. immigration policy. Strategically extracting a sentence fragment here and separate thought there Pearlman painted the exact picture of me he intended from the very beginning and in doing so remained true to form and consistent with his long and decorated history of trash journalism. In my research I have found that Pearlman has done eerily similar hatchet jobs to dozens of other subjects during his 20 year career," said Rocker.
Right -- that nefarious Jeff Pearlman! He talked to Rocker for ten hours and picked out only the most interesting quotes! (Also: "The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. I'm not a very big fan of foreigners" and "How bad are Asian women at driving?") What journalistic irresponsibility! Doesn't Pearlman know that you're supposed to take the whole interview and just run it verbatim, like one of those eight-hour Andy Warhol films?
So what gets Rocker riled up these days? I'm sure it won't astonish you that immigration and nativism are high on the list. Back in 2007 I checked up on him, he was planning to write a book on immigration (which apparently never came out), and he'd posted a "mission statement" for a "speak English" campaign at JohnRocker.net. (The "Speak English" T-shirts, modeled by Rocker and "Alicia Marie - fitness athlete, freelance writer, and Ms. Bikini Universe 2004," are no longer available these days.) Now Rocker tells WND that he's a big fan of SB1070:
"God bless Jan Brewer! If I could personally meet any public figure in our country today on any level, Jan Brewer would be at the top of that list.... Jan Brewer is not a racist. Her House and Senate that passed SB1070 are not racists, and to flippantly assume that the hard-working men and women of Arizona law enforcement would behave like bigots in the enforcement of this bill is paramount to a slap in their face.... In addition to the sustained and growing violence of the Mexican drug cartels in 2004, 37,000 illegal immigrants were detained in the Tucson, Ariz., sector alone. Of those 37,000, 7,500 of them were from terror-sponsoring countries.... If Manuel, Jose or Prakesh have to show proof they are here legally and, heaven forbid, feel such a heinous dreadful thing as 'racial profiling' has befallen them then so be it...."
And even though elsewhere in the interview he complains about e-mail surveillance by the government (it "may lead to a glorified Soviet Union-style Gestapo in our near future"), he thinks racial profiling is a wonderful thing, even at gunpoint -- even if it happens to him:
" ... Here's a quick story: When I lived in Venezuela playing winter ball in 2005, I was most definitely profiled when my car with three other gringos in it was asked to pull off the side of the road at a random military checkpoint. I had to get out of my car and show a man carrying an AK-47 wearing military fatigues my passport, driver's license and car registration. But guess what? I had my passport and so did the other three people with me. That's just what you do when you're in a foreign country. I had my car registration and I had my driver's license. After about three minutes of inconvenience I was free to go. Had I been profiled? You're damn right! Had the Venezuelan federales pulled the one car from the line of traffic with four people in it that didn't look like they were from Venezuela? Right again! As one of their jobs in conducting such a random traffic check point is to possibly apprehend people who shouldn't be in Venezuela. Were the federales right in singling me and my friends out? Absolutely! I produced what they were asking for -- no harm no foul. Did I want to sue the Venezuelan government for unfairly profiling me? Don't be ridiculous! In the world we live in policies like SB1070 are just common sense. I just pray the Supreme Court will find favor with it.'
Hey, Mexicans -- get your papers and savor being racially profiled!
Seriously: Rocker should move to Arizona and run for office. He'd win.