Rocco: A Pictorial Roster of Guys

"A Rocco Roster": Click to view. hide caption

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On today's show, A. Kenneth Ciongoli teed up sports announcer Johnny Miller.

Ciongoli, of the National Italian-American Foundation, took exceptions to remarks the NBC sports announcer made about golfer Rocco Mediate — in essence, Mediate said that guys who look like Mediate usually clean Tiger Woods' swimming pool and that guys named Rocco don't get the Open trophy.

Which got us thinking about the all the guys in the world named Rocco. In the slideshow above, we present a roster. (Rocco, FYI, is the patron saint of pestilence.)

Of course, Ciongoli's point was that the media feels free to make fun of Italian-Americans in ways it can't about members of other ethnic groups, like African-Americans or Jews. So, while our photo gallery grew out of a conversation we had around the office about guys named Rocco, some people might think that the photo gallery itself is an example of exactly what Ciongoli is criticizing. How would you feel about a photo gallery of guys named Shlomo?



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boo freakin hoo, this get put up as one of those who cares moments in news. I mean come on I doubt fully that the guy intended it to be an openly racial comment. Bad class give the guy a break and tell the bleeding heart to shut up, there are way more important issues in the world today then your over inflated pride.

Sent by Mic | 10:29 AM | 7-9-2008

It should be clear to anyone who can see this objectively and rationally that Miller's remarks truly had nothing to do with Rocco's heritage. It seems we are currently in the grip of a subjectivity epidemic.

Sent by James Malloy | 10:41 AM | 7-9-2008

The best way to understand how racist this remark really was is to reverse the names: if the sportscaster had said "guys who look like Tiger" usually clean the white player's pool, the African American community would be up in arms--and rightly so.

Sent by Jordan | 11:35 AM | 7-9-2008

Ciongoli did a really good job of coming across as a whiny, opportunistic chauvinist - especially with his comment that Italian-Americans' "record of accomplishment is unsurpassed by any other ethnic group." Wow. Just...Wow.

Sent by Carey | 11:35 AM | 7-9-2008

I found the Rocco Roster silly and dismissive of the point being raised regarding media depiction of Italian Americans. I would have thought NPR could have done a better job. It seems time to do a little deeper research.

Sent by Maryann Calendrille | 4:34 PM | 7-9-2008

Yeah, I also thought Ciongoli's "record of accomplishment" remarks were way over the top. There are plenty of Irish, Polish, Jewish, Latino, and African Americans out there, and many other groups, who would beg to differ with him. I also think he grossly misinterprets The Sopranos. That show accurately depicts a subset of Italian-Americans, not all. Just some. And isn't almost everyone on that show an Italian-American?

Sent by Kate | 4:39 PM | 7-9-2008

On the one hand, Mr. Ciongoli is doing what other advocacy groups do, in decrying bigotry against his ethnic group and at the same time in spotlighting his ethnic group's accomplishments. To that extent, he's no different than the NAACP and the ADL.

On the other hand, Mr. Ciongoli can't be both victim and victor at the same time. If he complains about Italian-American depictions as greasy-haired guidos, he can't then turn around & say that Italian-Americans have accomplished more than anyone else. Not only is that latter incorrect sociologically, it also contradicts your own complaint.

For analogy, when Francis Cahill wrote about how the Dark Ages never came to Ireland and how Irish monks kept alive the study of the ancient classics, he titled his book, "How the Irish Saved Civilization," more as a tongue-in-cheek joke. Every Irishman and Irish-American knows that. We know better than to claim that Irish-Americans' "record of accomplishment is unsurpassed by any other ethnic group," because, not only is that not true, but also such arrogance leaves us with no credibility.

And enough with this "you weren't say this to a Jew or African-American." We weren't say it because it's not the same. Italian-Americans (& Irish-Americans, for that matter) haven't had 300 years of slavery followed by 100 years of Jim Crow to deal with and likewise haven't had 6 million of their own people murdered while the world watched. Stop making these phony comparisons.

Sent by Matthew C. Scallon | 4:40 PM | 7-9-2008

Im from Australia & I agree with this statement by Kenneth Ciongoli. In my country the same thing happens all the time. We Italians some how are fair game for all & we have to share the blame. We are a race that seem to not worry about comments that are fired at us & seem to always laugh at ourselfs. I for one am sick of it as in my country is goes on all the time. We are all depicked as mafioso & tomato growers but the fact remains as does in the USA that we Italians (major) with our fathers & mothers along with other minor ethnic groups built what what we have today. I think that many people have this envy toward Italians & if you seriously have a one on one with non Italians most will all admit this fact. If here we tease Black Australians or Asian Australians all hell will break loose. Only recently our leader has apologized to the black Australians for past events that their forfathers commited & not mine. I am now waiting for an apology toward all Italians that came here to build Australia for the way they were treated but somehow I dont think it will happen. If I were in power I would make it a demand. I am sick of the way we are treated & we as a race should start to defend ourselfs when it happens & stop laughing with them.

Sent by Rob | 7:09 PM | 7-9-2008

Come on, people, let's all grow up a little bit. Rocco Mediate looks like guys we all know. He speaks like people you meet every day. If you don't watch a lot of golf, you wouldn't know that he is making his living as a world class athlete. He chomps on cigars while he plays!
All Mr. Miller was saying is that he looks, speaks, and acts like the rest of us. And that is a sharp contrast to Tiger Woods who looks, speaks, and moves like the super-wealthy, elite athlete and business man that he is.
Perhaps it would have made Mr. Ciongoli feel better if Tiger were in a playoff with Bubba Watson.

Sent by Guy Thayer | 10:07 AM | 7-10-2008

Yes, those Italian-Australians, whose land was taken from them, whose children were stolen from them, who were plied with alcohol and infested with disease. Accept my apologies. Please.

Ciongoli's roster of illustrious Italians is typical both of Italian-Americans and Italians. They are justifiably proud of their ancestors and cousins. But the only legitimate reason to invoke these people is as models of accomplishment for those now living, for your children.

And just why would a journalist ask Ciongoli about The Sopranos? Maybe it's because his group is always bitching about the show? Just maybe.


Sent by Marc Naimark | 5:41 AM | 7-11-2008

This paragraph needs a rewrite:

Ciongoli, of the National Italian-American Foundation, took EXCEPTION to remarks the NBC sports announcer made about golfer Rocco Mediate -- in essence, MILLER said that guys who look like Mediate usually clean Tiger Woods' swimming pool and that guys named Rocco don't get the Open trophy.

Sent by Marc Naimark | 5:43 AM | 7-11-2008

Kenneth Ciongoli
I totally agree with you!!!
Especially if you reverse it.
People say things about Italians that they would never say about other ethnics. And it is true Italians have consistantly contributed to the world, from the earlist times till the present time. And too much to mention.

Sent by Lisette | 11:37 PM | 7-11-2008