Mike Rowe of “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” fame pulled no punches this week after a reader insinuated that he and his Republican admirers have a lot in common with “white nationalists.”
The man behind the mikeroweWORKS Foundation did not take kindly to a letter by Chuck Atkins, which he addressed in unequivocal terms on Tuesday. Mr. Atkins rhetorically linked Mr. Rowe’s nonprofit, which trains Americans for in-demand jobs, with racist anti-intellectuals. The reader also took issue with Mr. Rowe’s reluctance to discuss President Trump’s handling of violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“One of the tenants [sic] of white nationalism is that college educated people are academic elitests [sic],” Mr. Atkins said. “Comment? No? I’m not surprised. You never take a political stand because you don’t want to alienate anybody. Its bad for business. I get it. But there is a current of anti intellectualism [sic] in this country — promoted by Republicans. Those people love you, and they think your initiative is their initiative. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is kickin [sic] our a— academically.”
Mr. Rowe said that he would not behave before his nearly 5 million readers like a partisan celebrity activist.
“Since we’re being candid,” the television star wrote, “allow me to say how much I dislike your post. Everything about it annoys me — your smug and snarky tone, your appalling grammar, your complete lack of evidence to support your claims, and of course, the overarching logical fallacy that informs your entire position. What really bugs me though, is the fact that you’re not entirely wrong. It’s true; I haven’t shared any political opinions this week, in part anyway, because doing so might very well be ‘bad for business.’”
“What can I say? I work for half-a-dozen different companies, none of whom pay me to share my political opinions. I run a non-partisan foundation, I’m about to launch a new show on Facebook, and I’m very aware that celebrities pay a price for opening their big fat gobs.”
The former “Dirty Jobs” host then said that rants on Mr. Trump, besides alienating many of his fans, would be “annoying.”
“I can’t think of a single celebrity whose political opinion I value, and I’m not going to assume the country feels any differently about mine,” Mr. Rowe said. “So, rather than blow myself up, or chime in with all the obvious observations about the cowardly scum in the pointy hats, I’m going to talk instead about my belief that comments like yours pose a far greater threat to the future of our country than the existence of a memorial to Thomas Jefferson, or a monument to George Washington. Ready? Let’s start with a closer look at your claims.”
“You say that white nationalists believe that everyone who goes to college is an ‘academic elite.’ You then say that Republicans promote ‘anti-intellectualism.’ You offer no proof to support either claim, but it really doesn’t matter — your statements successfully connect two radically different organizations by alleging a shared belief. Thus, White Nationalists and The Republican Party suddenly have something in common — a contempt for higher education. Then, you make it personal. You say that Republicans ‘love’ me because they believe that my initiative and ‘their’ initiative are one and the same. But of course, “their” initiative is now the same initiative as white nationalists.
“Very clever. Without offering a shred of evidence, you’ve implied that Republicans who support mikeroweWORKS do so because they believe I share their disdain for all things ‘intellectual.’ And poof — just like that, Republicans, White Nationalists, and mikeroweWORKS are suddenly conflated, and the next thing you know, I’m off on a press tour to disavow rumors of my troubling association with the Nazis!”
The host concluded his response by noting the millions of dollars his organization raises for work-ethic scholarships, along with bipartisan support he enjoys among Democrats and Republicans.
“To quote Thomas Jefferson, (while I still can,) ‘If a nation expects to be ignorant and free and live in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.’ On this point, my foundation does not equivocate,” Mr. Rowe said.
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