But I do understand why Sasse was paralyzed in the moment. For Sasse, the incident came out of left field. In my grandmother’s house, racist remarks weren’t surprising in the sense that I knew they were coming, but I was always shocked at how they’d rear their ugly head. As a guest in her home, as Sasse was a guest of Maher’s, I also felt conflicted as to how I should confront the situation while respecting social norms. How does one tell their host that their words and views are abhorrent, while avoiding awkwardness for the rest of your time in the home (or on set)?
As a fan of Sasse who is interested in the focus of his book, I found the senator’s silence disappointing. After writing a book on values and child-rearing, what message does it send to American kids when he is silent when confronted with racially-charged language?
But Sasse has mentioned in every media appearance I’ve listened to (and as a fan, that’s a number) that his family is far from ideal and falters daily. Sasse’s silence was one of those times. In addition to wanting to raise my children to stand up to racism and racist speech, I also want to raise them with empathy, grace, and the ability to both apologize and forgive.