Witch Hunt Politics II: “Tom Brokaw’s Racist Comments”

Recently I wrote of “Witch Hunt Politics.” And Joe Biden pilloried for a head kiss. Now, “Latinx Humanists Call for Action after Tom Brokaw’s Racist Comments” is a headline in Free Mind, published by the American Humanist Association.

First, “Latinx” is apparently a new politically correct gender-neutral replacement for “Latina” or “Latino.” I recall how first you were supposed to say not “colored people” but “Negro.” Then “black,” then “African-American,” then “people of color” (a strange throwback to “colored people”). It’s hard to stay correct. But isn’t that precisely the point? To wrongfoot as many people as possible.

So what were Tom Brokaw’s “racist comments?” Here’s the full quote (during a Meet the Press panel discussion): “Hispanics should work harder at assimilation” and “make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English, and that they feel comfortable in their communities.”

That’s it — called “racist” and “unacceptable.” One advocate is quoted saying it reflects “ignorance of the struggles and accomplishments of the Latinx community.” The article goes on, “Brokaw’s inaccurate comments come despite the fact that for generations there have been aggressive efforts by both educators and parents to ensure more and more of the next generation are English speakers . . . Brokaw’s comments are indicative of xenophobia at play when immigration is only seen as valuable if immigrants ‘assimilate’ and speak English. English is no more American than other languages.”

Wait, what? How does this gibe? First they condemn Brokaw for urging that all Hispanic kids learn English. Then they indignantly insist they’re already doing that. Then they deplore the idea of it.

And Brokaw nowhere implied that immigration is only “valuable” if people assimilate. To the contrary, his comment bespeaks supportiveness for immigrants. This “xenophobia” charge says more about the mind of the article’s (unnamed) author than Brokaw’s.

The piece ends by quoting a Latinx advocate that Brokaw’s apology (itself never quoted in the article!) “was shallow and failed to acknowledge the inappropriate content and inherent racism of his remarks . . . his statements were factually incorrect and unsupported by data.”

Wait, what? Where did Brokaw make factual claims? The article asserts over 80% of Latinx students are proficient in English. Brokaw urged ensuring “that all their kids” learn English. All. No child left behind. Eighty percent is not all. What here is “factually incorrect and unsupported by data?”

It is indeed the attack on Brokaw that is factually incorrect. Throwing around words like “racism” and “xenophobia” like this is disgraceful. It’s the culture of Taking Offense, torturing someone’s words to somehow squeeze from them something to exploit for high dudgeon. Political correctness run amok. Many on the left talk universalism and brotherhood yet quickly demonize people for any deviation from their purity code. It’s really the age-old “us-against-them” syndrome; a tool for people to indulge in sanctimonious smugness, demonizing as many others as possible, to make the virtue zone they imagine themselves inhabiting as rarefied and exclusive as possible.

David Brooks’s latest column laments our era of “culture war, class warfare and identity politics;” of “call-out culture” and “tribal grandstanding.” That exactly characterizes this Free Mind article.

It’s especially absurdist to gin up such a contorted attack on a person like Brokaw when Nazis march with torches chanting “Jews will not replace us” and the president sees “very fine people on both sides.” Absurdist to tear down a decent man like Biden for gestures of support and encouragement to women when Pussygrabber sits with impunity in the White House.

I call myself a humanist. Free Mind’s article is a travesty of those rationalist values. When even a humanist publication betrays them like this, the country has gone nuts.

5 Responses to “Witch Hunt Politics II: “Tom Brokaw’s Racist Comments””

  1. Lee Says:

    I find that turning things around sometimes helps. In case it helps you ….

    I hear you saying that you are having trouble with the progression from “colored” to “negro” to the modern “People of Color” and I have also heard you indicate trouble with the modern term “democratic socialism.” So what if some prominent person chastised you and some group that includes you with:

    People over 70 years old should work harder at assimilation and make sure that they are learning modern English, so that they will feel comfortable in their communities.

    What would you think? Is this advice applicable to people over 70? Or is it applicable to some other subset of the population whose primary characteristic isn’t some age range? Is it even good advice, or could people do just fine without it? Do you feel that you don’t fit in in your community because you have failed to assimilate in the way that the speaker indicates?

  2. rationaloptimist Says:


  3. Lee Says:

    I erred in the reflection exercise by including you in the subset. What if you are in the larger group but not the subset?

    Judges should stop taking bribes, and make sure to arrange their finances transparently so that reporters can easily check on them, which will help them to avoid being enmeshed in scandals.

    This “advice” is targeted to too large an audience, makes a recommendation of dubious value, and suggests that following the advice will lead to an outcome that the vast majority are already assured of. Here is similar quality “advice”:

    You well-off, well-educated, heterosexual, cis-gendered, white men of privilege are not that fragile. When someone gives you feedback, listen and be thoughtful and maybe even thankful. Usually something of value can be learned. Don’t be so defensive; your right to offend isn’t worth defending.

  4. wolfgang Says:

    I’m behind you all the way. You eloquently stated what is in my mind concerning such name calling incidents and the continuation of as you say, the age-old “us-against-them” syndrome.
    I think this is all a part of the polarization and “my group is better than yours” syndrome that seems to have taken over the politics of this country. As the donald so often states- “Sad. So Sad”

  5. The Holier-than-thou Syndrome and Biden’s Latest “controversy” – suregist Says:

    […] ** Here’s a link:  https://rationaloptimist.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/witch-hunt-politics-ii-tom-brokaws-racist-comments… […]

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