Veteran newsman Tom Brokaw recently made news for making what were termed as racist remarks against Hispanic students during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. He had suggested that immigrant Hispanic students should do a better job of assimilation by learning English as expeditiously as possible.
He specifically said, “You know, they ought not to be just codified in their communities but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English, and that they feel comfortable in the communities. And that’s going to take outreach on both sides, frankly.”
What appears to have been intended as helpful advice to these new or future American citizens was seized upon by the left-wing politically correct policía as derogatory racist remarks. Being a good and loyal guilt motivated liberal, Brokaw responded to the criticism with a series of mea culpa tweets that began with, “I feel terrible a part of my comments on Hispanics offended some members of that proud culture.”
In follow-up tweets, Brokaw further lamented his self-inflicted indiscretion. He tweeted: “I never intended to disparage any segment of our rich, diverse society which defines who we are.”
Brokaw was politely challenged by PBS correspondent and frequent panelist on left-wing media, Yamiche Alcindor. Who said:
“We also need to adjust what we think of as America. You’re talking about assimilation. I grew up in Miami, where people speak Spanish, but their kids speak English. And the idea that we think Americans can only speak English, as if Spanish and other languages wasn’t always part of America, is, in some ways, troubling.”
Of course, Brokaw did not say – or even intimate – that young Latinos should ONLY speak English. Being bilingual has always been considered an asset in our diverse American culture. Why else do we teach languages in our school systems? Duh! But for the left-wing media, spin always trumps accuracy and truth.
For a time, it seemed like every left-wing Hispanic interest group and media was devoted solely to trashing Brokaw – and for a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, being criticized by minorities can be an ego-crushing and career ending experience.
LatinRebels.com founder Julio Ricardo Varela whined that the Meet the Press segment was “difficult to watch.” He called it, “a punch in the gut to a lot of people. It was not only factually incorrect, it was also xenophobia in action.” For a guy whose organization sounds like one of those street gangs I recall from my days in Chicago – and who administer punches to the gut that are not figurative — Varela sounds like a bit of a copo de nieve.
CNN’s ever-present panelist, Maria Cardona expressed her “love” for Brokaw, but said he is a bit out of touch – which in liberal-speak means he is an old white guy. Or as she put it, “I’ll give him a pass because he’s probably not up to speed as to where things are today and age, especially with young Latinos in this country.”
In an example of minority media hyperventilation, Aura Bogado, at Reveal, accused Brokaw of “arguing classic white supremacist talking points in a deeply racist rant on national television.”
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists were particularly harsh on their Fourth Estate colleague. The organization’s President Hugo Balta – also a senior producer for MSNBC – said that assimilation is “denying one culture for another.” In other words, assimilation is a big bad thing.
How did this happen?
For the better part of 200 years, America was a culture of assimilation symbolized in words and graphics by the “melting pot.” It seemed to have stemmed from the national motto with which the Founders christened America – e pluribus unum – which translates “out of many, one.”
This was not some advertising-style slogan. It was a profound statement through which the Founders envisioned their new civic creation. It was designed to influence the culture forever more.
In these three simple Latin words, the remarkable men who crafted the Declaration of independence and the Constitution recognized that America was a process into which newcomers could bring their backgrounds and skills and yet become part of one unifying culture. It was at the onset and forever to be a society of immigrants.
For two centuries, virtually every new immigrant wanted to be like an American – to BE an American. It was more than a name on a citizenship certificate. It was the embrace of the greater culture of freedom and opportunity. America was the place where they could provide their labor in return for the hope of a better life for them — and especially their children. They were eager to learn American history and speak English – often needlessly apologizing for their foreign accent.
They would initially gather in ethnic conclaves for a generation or two. That is why my hometown of Chicago was often called the “city of neighborhoods – each with its unique ethnic composition. But the first settlers were more than willing to watch their children move away – physically and socially – into the greater American culture. That was assimilation. That was the melting pot. After a generation or two, their ethnicity was homogenized by inter-ethnic marriages and their ancestry – or ancestries – just a matter of personal interest. They evolved into ethnic Americans.
The melting pot was not a one-way process. Even as the immigrant families assimilated into the unique American culture, they added a bit of their own ingredients (culture) to the pot – their food, their music, their religious customs and the fashions. All those things became part of the evolving American culture – but at the core, there remained a fixed set of dominant values.
This began to change in the last half of the Twentieth Century. Thanks to the political characteristics of liberal ideology, the assimilation process was resisted by a concept of identity politics and tribalization – a culture in which permanent ethnic identity takes precedence over assimilation.
The melting pot is replaced by a bucket of rocks – a white rock, black rock, brown rock, red rock and yellow rock – never to congeal into a common culture, but to be ever more managed as competing forces within our national boundaries. The political management of these political competitors is the foundation of power of the radical authoritarian left.
Many on the left and in their media echo chamber like to blame President Trump for the acrimony and divisiveness in today’s America. While it is arguable that his acerbic and pugnacious personality have not been a positive contribution to national unity and harmony, the wellspring of tribalism, goes back decades and is largely the resolute of the modern progressive movement and its emphasis on identity politics.
Since the 1960s, the left has been engaged in the I-win-you-lose game with the race card in constant play. They push aside the obvious overwhelming harmony and tolerance of the American people to create false enmities. They speak against various and sundry “isms” will creating their own class of stereotypical enemies – white people (especially we older men with our “toxic” genes), people of faith, business people and almost anyone who is rich and does not donate to left-wing causes.
Throughout American history, progressivism has been associated with elite superiority, racial intolerance and the white supremacy of leaders like Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt.
The noble American experiment in democracy and freedom will fritter away culturally, socially and economically unless we can reverse the current trend and restore our greatest feature – assimilation, the acceptance of a unified culture based on commonly shared values. At this junction, it is not looking good.
So, there ‘tis.