Opinion

A stupid comment was made, an apology was made; what next?

A stupid comment was made, an apology was made and the issue has all but disappeared.

Yes, veteran television broadcaster Tom Brokaw was completely wrong with his assumption that Latinos do not assimilate to this country. The sad reality is that people have accepted his apology and move on.

In January, while talking about President Donald J. Trump’s demand for a border wall on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ the veteran journalist opined about the changing demographics in the country.

“Also, I hear, when I push people a little harder, ‘Well, I don’t know whether I want brown grandbabies,’” said Brokaw. “I mean, that’s also a part of it. It’s the intermarriage that is going on and the cultures that are conflicting with each other.

“I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation. That’s one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time. You know, that 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.”

Whoah!!! Did he really say that? Yes, the man who coined the term ‘The Greatest Generation’ did.

But after the public took him to the woodshed, Brokaw apologized. “I am sorry, truly sorry, my comments were offensive to many,” he tweeted.

How many people are talking today, more than a month later, about Brokaw’s bone-headed and uninformed remarks?

We predict other people will parrot Brokaw’s thoughts later this year, or the next year, or two years from now, and blow up social media anew.

Our readers know full well that Latinos – much like previous waves of immigrants and future immigrants – assimilate into this country, fight its wars and build its economic engine.

Noted UCLA researcher Dr. David Hayes-Bautista will tell you that he’s never met a parent who told him, “I don’t want my children to learn English.”

We believe a possible solution is to make sure our high school students take an ethnic studies course in order to graduate. That was part of legislation authored by Assemblymember José Medina, D-Riverside, that would have established a three-year pilot program permitting 11 school districts to make that a requirement for graduation.

Then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed AB 2772 last September. “I am reluctant to encourage yet another graduation requirement, especially when students are already overburdened by multiple tests and endless hours of homework,” Brown said in his veto statement.

To his credit, Medina, a former teacher, has reintroduced the bill (AB 331) this year. Ethnic studies courses focus on the history, politics, culture, contributions, challenges and status of ethnic groups in the United States, said Medina’s office.

“Knowledge of our history plays a critical role in shaping who we become. When I was growing up, the history of those who look like me was not represented in the classroom,” said Medina. “As a former Ethnic Studies teacher, I saw firsthand how much more engaged my students were when they saw themselves reflected in the coursework.”

This is not just about making high school students learn about Mexican history or the Chicano Movement. In a state of ethnic diversity, 21 different groups of at least 250,000 Californians can trace their ancestry different parts of the world, from Armenia to Holland to India to México to Guatemala and beyond.

Medina believes the state should celebrate that diversity “by teaching a curriculum that is inclusive of all of our cultures and backgrounds. Ethnic Studies provide students an opportunity to learn about histories outside of the Euro-centric teachings most prominent in our schools.”

If Brokaw had taken such a course while he was attending Yankton High School in South Dakota, we believe he would have made a more educated remark on ‘Meet the Press.’

“Without knowledge of other cultural experiences and the history of those ethnic and cultural groups,” says Medina, a Democrat from the Riverside area who previously worked as a teacher, “I don’t think you can call yourself an educated person.”

Let’s support Medina’s bill.

  Comments