Move over George Wallace.
Wallace, infamously, vowed in his inaugural address as governor of Alabama: “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
Now, appallingly, comes Randy Falco, the president and CEO of Univision, to demand the presidential debate version of Wallace-style racism. In the case of Falco, it is his mind-blowing demand to the Presidential Debate Commission that the recent announcement of moderators for the forthcoming debates be amended — by race. Said Falco to commission chair Janet Brown:
I am writing to express disappointment, and frankly disbelief, that the Commission on Presidential Debates has not chosen a Hispanic journalist to moderate the presidential debates. The inclusion of CBS’ Elaine Quijano as a moderator for the Vice Presidential debate is certainly a welcome addition but seems insufficient when taking into account past presidential cycles, future demographic trends and the important role Latinos play in the economic and social fabric of this great nation. Simply put: it’s an abdication of your responsibility to represent and reflect one of the largest and most influential communities in the U.S.”
We understand the critical role the debate process plays in informing voters about each candidate’s position on the issues that impact them directly, such as jobs and the economy and health, among others. So it is essential that the community hears firsthand where the candidates stand, what their policy solutions are and how they plan to implement their vision through the prism of a trusted journalist who represents Hispanic America and appreciates the nuances of this diverse demographic.
We ask again for you to reconsider leaving a Spanish-language moderator out of the presidential debate panels. As always, we stand ready to create additional venues where the Committee and the candidates can focus on Latinos. The Hispanic community will play a pivotal role in electing the next President and in all federal elections for the foreseeable future. We look forward to working with the Commission to address what we believe to be a troubling trend — the lack of the Hispanic perspective — and hope we can forge a new path forward.
In other words? This isn’t about American journalists moderating a debate between American presidential candidates. No, no, no. This is the appallingly dark suggestion that journalists should be judged not by professional accomplishment but by their race and ethnicity.
Fair enough. Got it. Let’s take a look and see just what has been included and excluded in this debate panel.
The debate moderators are as follows:
NBC’s “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt.
CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano.
ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz.
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.
In the race and ethnic driven racist world that is inhabited by Mr. Falco, it is now apparently necessary to review the ethnicity of all the moderators for ethnic or racial correctness. Understood. In this world, journalistic qualifications have no relevance. Understood. So let’s take a look at the moderators through the Falco prism.
* Lester Holt: Mr. Holt, according to his NBC bio, is of Jamaican West African and Scottish descent. The United Nations defines Holt’s native “West Africa” as now containing sixteen countries. They are: Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Niger, plus Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Mauritania. This impressive African heritage is added to his genealogical ties to Scotland and Jamaica. Not represented? Every other country in Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean.
* Elaine Quijano: Ms. Quijano, as her surname indicates and as Falco acknowledges, is part Spanish. But unfortunately for her, she is also of Philippine descent, which apparently disqualifies her to be considered legitimately Hispanic. To refresh historically, the Asian locale of what would become known as the Philippines was “discovered” by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. But Magellan was doing his exploring on behalf of King Charles I of Spain, the Spanish Crown funding his mission. Not only did the Spanish colonize the Philippines, they named the islands in their new colony after King Philip II of Spain. Yes, that’s right. Elaine Quijano’s ethnicity is directly descended from a modern-day Asian country that was colonized by Spain and which bears the name of a Spanish King. But in the words of Univision’s Falco?
The inclusion of CBS’ Elaine Quijano as a moderator for the Vice Presidential debate is certainly a welcome addition but seems insufficient when taking into account past presidential cycles, future demographic trends and the important role Latinos play in the economic and social fabric of this great nation.
In other words? In other words, what Falco is saying here is that quite frankly in the world of racial purity, Quijano is not up to racial par. If this were the world of Harry Potter, she would be seen as a “muggle” — a person who has no magical blood. If this were 1930s Germany… oh, never mind. You get the drift.
* Martha Raddatz: According to the Ancestry.com website, the surname “Raddatz” is described as follows by its origin and meaning:
Raddatz Name Meaning
German: habitational name from a place in Brandenburg, originally so named from a secondary form of a Slavic personal name formed with rad- ‘glad’.
Elsewhere the name is described as Polish in origin. Apparently, in an insult to Romanians, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Italians, Greeks and more, Raddatz is distressingly not possessed of their bloodlines.
* Anderson Cooper: The CNN anchor is, famously, a descendant through his mother of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the famous shipping magnate and philanthropist. Commodore Vanderbilt, as he was styled in the day, was of Dutch descent, his ancestor, according to Wikipedia, hailing from the town of De Bilt in the Netherlands. “Cooper” is, by all accounts, a name originating in England. Thus making Anderson Cooper part Dutch and part English. No Irish here, no Welsh, no French, nothing from Iceland. Doubtless Americans of Belgian descent are up in arms over his selection.
* Chris Wallace: Mr. Wallace is famously the son of the late journalist Mike Wallace. Dad “Mike” had his own ancestry written up in the New York Times at his death. Said the Times:
Myron Leon Wallace was born in Brookline, Mass., on May 9, 1918, one of four children of Friedan and Zina Wallik, who had come to the United States from a Russian shtetl before the turn of the 20th century. (Friedan became Frank and Wallik became Wallace in the American melting pot.)
Making debate moderator Chris Wallace of Russian Jewish ancestry. No word on whether Arab Americans are furious at his selection. And as to the Falco demand for a “Spanish-language moderator” there is no word whether the moderators above are fluent in Dutch, Hebrew, Russian, German, or Yoruba, Igbo, Fulfulde/Pulaar, Akan, and Wolof, the latter six the major languages in Holt’s West Africa.
So. Where does this leave us? Between the debate moderators we have representation for the sixteen nations of West Africa, Jamaica, Scotland, Asia, Spain, Germany and/or Poland, England and the Netherlands, plus Russia and the Jews. By Randy Falco’s standards one heck of a lot of the world is missing here in terms of racial or ethnic consideration. There is no representative of any Arab country, not to mention India and Pakistan, among the debate moderators. There is apparently no one of Irish descent. There are also apparently no Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, Belgians, French, Portuguese, Italians, Japanese, Chinese, South Africans or Canadians. In truth, if looked at in this fashion the selection of these debate moderators, ethnically speaking, is one big middle finger to almost the entire world that has no representation on this debate panel of their individual or collective ethnicity.
Unless, of course, we count Americans. The guiding principle of America is not racial or ethnic identity. America is founded on the principles of freedom and liberty — colorblind and ethnicity blind both. And Americans know instinctively how this works. An example?
Take a look over here at the CBS website and the biography supplied for Elaine Quijano. She is described by her job for CBS, her past accomplishments and her education. There is not a single reference — not one — to her ethnic background. Ditto the CNN biography for Anderson Cooper, which focuses on his career as a journalist with a line about his education. Over at NBC, this bio of Lester Holt does the same, while the bio above makes a passing reference to his heritage. By far Holt’s bio, in typical American-style, is all about his professional accomplishments with a mention of his education. Holt is no more a West African or Jamaican journalist than Anderson Cooper is a Dutch journalist or Chris Wallace a Russian or Jewish journalist. They are, in the style of America, simply “journalists.” Period.
Can you find information on the racial or ethnic backgrounds of these moderators somewhere? Obviously, yes. Holt even went back to Jamaica with his New York-born mother for a Today Show segment to explore their Jamaican heritage, a very American thing to do in a nation that is 100% composed of the descendants of immigrants. But neither Lester Holt nor any of his debate moderating colleagues is or should be on the panel because of their race, ethnicity or gender. They are there because they are journalists. Professionals. Good ones. They will conduct these debates and then be awash in the inevitable praise and criticisms this peculiarly American job always brings with it.
What troubles about Falco’s astonishingly racist letter to the debate commission is its blatant, George Wallace-style admission that he is all about judging people — professional journalists in this case — by race and skin color. Worse still, it is abundantly clear that others — think Univision’s Jorge Ramos — have made this the foundation of their view of a re-made America, dragging the country backwards to a time when judging others by race — think slavery, segregation and lynching — was a horrific fact of life in America. A time when my own ancestors were greeted with “no Irish need apply” or when Harvard kept quotas for the number of Jews it would admit. Not to put too fine a point on it, the insulting reference to CBS’s Elaine Quijano essentially states up front that if your Spanish heritage comes from the Spanish colonization of Asian islands — Asian islands that now bear the name of a Spanish King — instead of the (brutal) Spanish colonization of the southern half of North America, then well, you really aren’t of Spanish descent at all.
Hence life in a philosophy that has scales of what does and does not count as racial purity.
This is disgraceful. And yes, it is thoroughly un-American. Mr. Falco and Univision should be ashamed, but like George Wallace, one suspects they are not only unashamed with demanding a panel based on race and ethnicity but that this really is their world view. Worse still, this is what they are loudly demanding of the rest of Americans who do not share their views of separating and judging our fellow countrymen by race and ethnicity. They are not about assimilation into the melting pot of American life, they — exactly like George Wallace — are about “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Beginning with this debate panel.
The Presidential Debate Commission’s Janet Brown (ethnicity unknown) would be well advised to send a short, one sentence reply to Falco, borrowing a line from the man who won the first modern presidential debate back there in 1960. Said John F. Kennedy in his 1963 address to the nation:
“Race has no place in American life or law.”
Or on presidential debate panels either.