Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

How Robert O’Rourke Became ‘Beto’

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

A  great deal of controversy has continued the past few days over Robert Francis O’Rourke’s longtime use of a nickname given to him at birth (albeit temporarily jettisoned while in prep school) — especially in the wake of his recent sensational and unfounded charges that Donald Trump is directly responsible for the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and that white supremacy defines America, past and present, and explains Trump’s culpability.

The point of the amused contention is not that O’Rourke was given such a nickname at or near birth. Rather, the controversy is over his continued use of the sobriquet for cynical political advantage in a somewhat related manner to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s longtime false cultural appropriation of a Native American identity for careerist purposes. After all, we live in a progressive era in which “cultural appropriation” is a mortal sin and non-minority university students are routinely chastised for wearing clothing or hairstyles associated with minority groups or appearing in dramas playing the roles of characters of a different ethnic background.

According to the Dallas Morning News, a quite prescient senior O’Rourke once explained why he had given the shortened form of the Spanish “Roberto” to his son as a nickname. And he seemed to imply that such naming was for political reasons in addition to avoiding confusing young Robert with his maternal grandfather of the same first name:

In the backdrop of the city’s multicultural community, his father, Pat O’Rourke, a consummate politician, once explained why he nicknamed his son Beto: Nicknames are common in Mexico and along the border, and if he ever ran for office in El Paso, the odds of being elected in this mostly Mexican-American city were far greater with a name like Beto than Robert Francis O’Rourke.

Read the full article here.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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