PERFORMATIVE BELIEF: Kirk Herbstreit is a good, decent person!


Kirk Herbstreit goes to church:  Kirk Herbstreit seems like the world's nicest person. It could be that he actually is.

For that reason, we've always liked his work. That said, who is Kirk Herbstreit?

Herbstreit, age 51, is a longtime college football analyst for ABC Sports and its corporate partner, ESPN.

As a high school quarterback, he was the state of Ohio's player of the year. As a senior in college, he was co-captain of the Ohio State team, as his father had been before him.

Thirty years later, he's still upbeat and youthful in his approach on the air. He's a positive person who seems to like the game he covers and who seems to like the people who play and coach it.

We like people who like other people. Last Saturday, Herbstreit wept.

We weren't watching the ESPN show in question. But by Monday morning, the Washington Post, on its web site, was pushing the incident hard. 

You see, the incident was already part of the Washington Post's new religion. For ourselves, we think that religion is a bit misguided. We aren't sure that the new religion leads to good results.

We'll briefly explain that assessment below. For now, the on-line column the Post was promoting had started off like this:

BOREN (9/5/20): The college football season has begun and, during an era of protests and a coronavirus pandemic, ESPN’s first Saturday telecast was anything but usual.

The hosts were far apart, broadcasting from their homes rather than appearing before a boisterous, sign-loving crowd on a campus somewhere, and “College GameDay” devoted time to the protests of systemic racism and police brutality that have taken place across the country.

Kirk HerbHow do you listen to these stories and not feel pain and not want to help?” Herbstreit asked, weeping.streit broke down in tears as he spoke of the need to change. He shared a quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, that he had been given by Stanford Coach David Shaw and he wondered what will follow, asking, “What will lead to change?”

“[He] said, ‘Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.’ The Black community is hurting. ... How do you listen to these stories and not feel pain and not want to help?” Herbstreit asked, weeping.

Like Jesus, Herbstreit wept. In corporate fashion, the column had started with a tweet from ESPN itself:

"Heartfelt and powerful," the corporate self-promotion said. Boren's column started with that piece of scripture from the new feel-good religion.

Just this once, we'll be honest! At first, we were annoyed with Herbstreit himself.

Herbstreit has been around college football for roughly 35 years. Young black guys have been exploited, have been bought and sold and discarded, within that corporate complex forever. 

Our first reaction to this heartfelt conduct was a bit uncharitable. Where the freak has this mofo been? we found ourselves starting to ask.

Have reports of recent police shooting deaths really been Herbstreit's introduction to question of racial justice? In a world where newspapers like the Washington Post have never given a flying felafel about the lives and the interests of the nation's  black kids,we'll admit that this was our first reaction.

We'll admit it—we were annoyed with Herbstreit himself. We'll admit that his heartfelt conduct struck us as perhaps a bit faux.

As the week has proceeded, we have reconsidered. The very next morning, the Washington Post filled its pages with various holdings of its new religion. We began to conjure a new assessment:

It occurred to us that the villains here were ESPN, and more so the Washington Post!

Our own religion stretches back to the liberal / progressive frameworks of the 1960s. Those frameworks stressed the phoniness of "race" as a basic concept. 

Those frameworks also stressed this philosophical / organizational idea:

Black and white together!

Today, those frameworks have been widely abandoned. Corporate ghouls who don't give a damn have created a new religion.

Tuesday's garbage-can front-page report was part of that new religion. In manifestations of that garbage-can corporate conduct, the Post (and other mainstream organs) discuss the deaths of the innocent or the apparently innocent—but only if they're "black!"

"Whites" and Hispanics get disappeared. So do all the "others."

The new religion is built around the deaths of the apparently innocent. If the decedents aren't sufficiently innocent, the Washington Post and other news organs will start reinventing key facts. 

This is the deeply depressing process known as "sanitization." We still plan to discuss the topic at length, but it will be a depressing endeavor.

People like Herbstreit may have motored along not thinking about these things all that much. Suddenly, they're hit with vast waves of the new religion.

They may not know that they're being misled and misinformed. Meanwhile, the basic precepts of the new religion encourage them to feel guilt.

Tuesday's Post was full of work out of the new sacred texts. Consider only what occurred in the endless, garbage-can report which led the paper's front page:

The paper published a sprawling report about the women who have been shot and killed by police officers across the nation since the start of 2015. 

According to the Post's own data, 62.3% of these women have been "white." But in the Post's gigantic report, it described the shooting deaths of seven such women. Only one of those women was "white"—and the story gets worse after that, almost comically so.

The one "white" decedent was Rhogena Nicholas, age 55 at death. She was shot and killed during a massively bungled no-knock raid in Houston just last year.

(Her husband, Dennis Tuttle, age 59, was also shot and killed during the bungled raid.)

Because Nicholas and Tuttle were "white," the event has generated virtually no national coverage or discussion. And good God:

When the Post's reporters discussed this case in Tuesday's report—starting in paragraph 76!—they seemed to be unaware of a major development in the case, a development which had occurred in late July of this year!

That may simply reflect the sloth  involved in journalistic religions. It may reflect the lack of interest paid to the shooting deaths of the "white" and Hispanic and "other."

At any rate, regular people get fed this gruel on a regular basis. As a general matter, they don't know that they're being misinformed, misled.

The Post has invented religions before. Readers didn't know they were being conned when Ceci Connolly spent twenty months inventing sacred tales about the evils of Candidate Gore in 1999 and 2000.

The apparent source of that (deeply destructive) religion was loathing of President Clinton. The apparent source of today's new religion is a new conceptual strategy aimed at creating a vast racial guilt.

People like Herbstreit have possibly skated along, looking the other way every step of the way. Suddenly, within the last decade, a new movement has come along and has flipped some basic scripts.

In the 1960s, no one was dumb enough to think they were "privileged" because they hadn't been shot and killed by the police for no earthly reason. Now, people are told that the very fact that they're alive is a sign of their vast "privilege."

In the 1960s, the fact that you weren't being shot and killed for no reason wasn't seen as "privilege." It was seen as the norm, as a basic part of citizenship.

If others were being shot and killed, that was called "discrimination." Liberals and progressives were supposed to fight against such discrimination, though on the whole nobody cared—certainly not the gang of strivers who ended up writing the Post.

The production of racial guilt has become the new approach. People who never lifted a finger or thought about any of this are easily swept along.

The Washington Post has been a cesspool concerning the lives of black kids. "But now, the heart is filled with gold, as if it were a purse." 

The paper which didn't care about "race" now cares about nothing else. And as in the past, so too today:

The paper is willing to do and say anything to hold itself free of blame.

We like Kirk Herbstreit's work. He may be the world's nicest person. In our experience, most people are.

According to the corporate priests, his conduct was heartfelt that day. We aren't here to say that it wasn't.

For ourselves, we would still argue for black and white together, even as various people are getting shot to death. We'd even recommend black and blue together—but that involves the ability to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone else!

Still coming: Sanitizations—the misstatements our tribe has been sold

We didn't get to it this week: We still recall it as one of the greatest questions ever asked on TV.

"What difference does it make?" Professor Gates quickly asked, with an air of amusement. He was speaking with Ava DuVernay, who had said and done nothing wrong.

In essence, Gates was challenging the very idea that people belong to "races."  People will surely be treated that way. But here's a question straight outta the past:

Do you believe  "races" exist?


  1. "Like Jesus, Herbstreit wept."

    Herbstreit did not compare himself to Jesus. So this is a bit of Somerby snark that says exactly where he is coming from.

    Herbstreit, unlike Somerby, feels empathy for black people. That may be because he likes people in general, as Somerby went to great lengths to describe him.

    Lack of empathy is Somerby's failing, not Herbstreit's. Jesus had empathy for everyone. It was the key difference between the New and Old Testaments, that empathy even for sinners, the calling to lover others as oneself.

    Herbstreit isn't performing. He is emoting. Guys do that now. It is to his credit that he can feel for others and Somerby's contention that others are merely performing instead of feeling has no basis, no foundation. He has no right to call out others as if they were going through motions solely because he himself feels nothing for black people and cannot understand what today's turmoil is about.

  2. No, dear Bob, we don't believe that 'races' exist.

    "racial justice"

    Yeah, dear Bob, this is your very own liberal cult: resurrecting -- and trumpeting -- hilerian concept of "racial justice". In the year of our Lord 2020.

    We hope you're happy and proud, dear Bob.

  3. The liberal frameworks of the 1960s did not stress the phoniness of "race" as a basic concept. That came later, from the universities that Somerby usually dismisses. Racial skepticism dates from the 1990s and racial constructivism from the early 2000's.

    1. Somerby claims the 60s stressed white and black together, but the emerging black power movement of that time period stressed that blacks must fight their own fight and could not count on the help of white people in doing so.

  4. "We'd even recommend black and blue together—but that involves the ability to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone else!"

    And we all know that cops have no such imagination.

  5. "Do you believe "races" exist?"

    This isn't the only question.

    You can disbelieve that races exist, as racial skepticists do. If you advocate the abandoning of race as a concept, then you are a racial eliminativist.

    You can believe that races exist primarily as a form of social identity, as racial nominalists do.

    You can believe that races exist as an aspect of human culture and decisions, which would make you a racial constructivist. If you believe in race as a grouping of people based on ancestry and skin color and hair texture, then you are a "thin" racial constructivist. Taking this further and describing race as shared experiences would make you a "interactive kind" racial constructivist. If you conceive of race as a social institution, then you are an institutional racial constructivist. If you define race in terms of power and privilege, then you are a political racial constructivist.

    Some argue that the term race should be replaced by socioancestry, which retains the possibility of color-conscious social identity. Others argue that "racial realism" refers to social groups formed on the basis of visible biological traits.

    You can believe in racial population naturalism, which takes three forms: (1) cladistic races that derive from a common breeding ancestor, (2) socially isolated races derived from laws against miscegenation, (3) genetically clustered race derived from defining gene clusters associated geographically.

    "Race and ethnicity differ strongly in the level of agency that individuals exercise in choosing their identity. Individuals rarely have any choice over their racial identity, due to the immediate visual impact of the physical traits associated with race. Individuals are thought to exercise more choice over ethnic identification, since the physical differences between ethnic groups are typically less striking, and since individuals can choose whether or not to express the cultural practices associated with ethnicity. "

    Krug confounded this distinction by choosing to express aspects of culture usually associated with a fixed race. Somerby says he doesn't believe in race, but he sure enough was upset when Krug crossed the color line. I don't believe he is as colorblind as he wishes to suggest.

    If you are looking for an organ donor, you would do better to search for African American donors if you are African American, since you will be better able to find a match in that group. Eliminating race as a category in these kinds of situations is self-defeating.

    But Somerby is primarily arguing against BLM and using race to beat up liberals. He doesn't have a serious interest in the topic beyond those narrow political motives.

  6. Where did Somerby get the idea that if you call someone a good decent person, it is then OK to trash them?

    1. It’s likely that he wishes to distinguish himself from liberals who don’t find their contrarians (left or right) misguided or wrong, but corrupt.

    2. Herbstreit is not a contrarian and your comment makes no sense at all.

    3. Cecelia downplays racism, but not non sequiturs.

    4. The non sequitur is in your thinking that Somerby can’t think that a certain fellow liberal is late to the table in his wokeness, but is still a decent person.

      That’s why you people have to either harass a good and normal man such as Bob, or go off into the woods.

  7. “ He doesn't have a serious interest in the topic beyond those narrow political motives.”

    Irony of the month!

    So far.

  8. Clutch em if you got em.

    1. You clutch them, because I’m sure you’ve got ‘em...uh, “Miss”.

  9. Can I buy troll repellent on Amazon or should I try Ebay?

  10. By sheer numbers in the population more whites get killed by by police than blacks. But if you point that out you are a racist.

    1. You are right that no one should be killed by cops (if that is what you are trying to say), but comparing the sheer numbers between a majority and a minority is a waste of time. If you don't understand why that is true, you are a racist.

    2. “ If you don't understand why that is true, you are a racist.”

      Or you simply don’t know enough about statistics to understand that percentage of pop. is what gives you and accurate picture.

    3. CNYOrange only mentioned "sheer numbers" which is NOT percentage of the population. You are putting words in his mouth.

    4. If my saying that he might not understand statistics is putting words in his mouth, what is it that you’re putting into his psyche?

  11. “Those frameworks also stressed this philosophical / organizational idea:
    Black and white together!”

    Question for B Somerby: do you think your reaction helps bring blacks and whites together, or not?

    When a group says to you “we’ve got problems”, and you accuse them of having a misperception, of being wrong, of stoking division, that really isn’t a helpful response.

    Your pinning the blame on the media doesn’t evade your responsibility here. The media is reporting things, but the people are telling you their concerns. Your turning a deaf ear, or worse, accusing black people of cynical tribalization is unhelpful.

    It is illuminating that you feel Herbstreit was expressing guilt, when in fact he was expressing empathy.

    The idea that when black people rise up and complain about real problems that they are just trying to make white people feel guilty is absurd. When confronted with black issues, the proper response is “you have a point; how can I help”, not “why do you hate white people” or “why should i be guilty?”

    These responses stem from a fragile ego, and they reflect a lack of empathy.

  12. To read such logic and compassion brings tears. Thank you Bob Somerby!

  13. I feel some regret for having indulged in nitpicking and pulling some statements from his otherwise good essays. In most cases, simple praise is due to Bob Somerby.

  14. In the 1960s, no one was dumb enough to think they were "privileged" because they hadn't been shot and killed by the police for no earthly reason. Now, people are told that the very fact that they're alive is a sign of their vast "privilege."'

    Awesome! Yes, exactly.

    1. Yet we still have fools who don't want to defund the police.

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