Alton Brown is sorry for his terrible Holocaust tweets, calls them ‘in poor taste’

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Holy crap, Alton Brown is a mess. He needs to take long step back and gather himself together. I admit that I found the explanation of his political anxiety through food debauchery kind of funny. On that post, at least one of you commented that you’d thought Alton leaned conservative. I only know Alton through a few shows I’ve seen on Food Network, I haven’t even read his cookbooks, so don’t know much about him, but you were right. After his food meltdown, Alton confirmed in a now deleted tweet:

I have voted Republican most of my life. I consider myself a conservative. I want to believe there are still “very fine” people on both sides of the aisle but…if #GOP leaders don’t get their collective noses out of that man’s ass, we’re gonna have words.

Newsweek posted the tweet, calling him a Republican in the article and Alton asked them for an apology, saying that voting Republican and being one were different. The point of asking for the apology was he wanted everyone to know that he strongly supported President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris as well and Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in their Georgia Senate bids. (Brown lives in Marietta, Georgia.)

All of that, though, looked like child’s play when Alton grossly overstepped the line of misguided dark humor in his next tweets. During the contentious back and forth that followed the election, Alton posted a trio of satirical tweets, casually hypothesizing what it would be like if the US entered into a Holocaust scenario:

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People were justifiably outraged and let Alton and Food Network know. He took down the tweets and upon some reflection, issued the following apology:

I’m not here to let Alton off the hook. What he said was wrong and incentive and I can only imagine how many were triggered by his “flippancy.” And although I understand anyone’s despair or anxiety when it comes to the election or the GOP’s behavior in its wake, there is no place for this kind of comment on Twitter, and certainly not three in a row.

It’s not a bad apology, Alton explained and apologized without saying it was our fault for being offended. As I said, I wasn’t hugely invested in Alton in the first place but any ground we’d gained has certainly been lost. Hopefully he will dig a little deeper on these issues. Hopefully he will get off Twitter and hit the pavement for Rev. Warnock and Jon Ossoff, doing some real work and not just talking about it. Time will tell if these were truly poor judgement or symptomatic of larger issues he has.

*Thank you to Vulture via Pajiba for the story

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51 Responses to “Alton Brown is sorry for his terrible Holocaust tweets, calls them ‘in poor taste’”

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  1. FHMom says:

    Omg We dont joke about the Holocaust. Ever. The last tweet was the worst. Jerk should know better.

    • atorontogal says:

      Jerk is right! He told someone to F-Off when they called him out on this initially. How people make a connection that the holocaust can be used in a joking manner is beyond me. He did set social media alight with debate however, as to which genocide is actually the worst…ffs people!

    • Izzy says:

      Except that people do. LOT. As a Jew, I am constantly amazed and disgusted by the sheer volume of people who think it is acceptable, like it was a little dustup instead of the wholesale slaughter of 6 million of us simply for our religious beliefs.

      • Lady Baden-Baden says:

        WORD @Izzy. It always amazes me too how ‘acceptable’ antisemitism is, even amongst people with so-called liberal beliefs. Hell, half my family (the non-Jewish half) make Jew jokes and roll their eyes like I’m lacking a sense of humor if I call them out.

  2. shanaynay says:

    I know what he’s trying to say, but it is something that shouldn’t be joked upon.

    • Esmom says:

      Yeah. People try so hard on social media. We’d all be a lot better off if a lot of people just said less.

    • Lady2Lazy says:

      @ shanayany, It doesn’t matter what he was trying to say, because it was an unacceptable reference to the Holocaust.

  3. hindulovegod says:

    His mask slipped. We now all see him for who he truly is. No half-hearted apology letter is going to fix it.

    • megs283 says:

      I saw him during a live show about 5 or 6 years ago. He made several “jokes” that I thought were cruel and at the expense of an audience member who had volunteered to be on stage.

    • Linda says:

      His ex-wife was a hardcore evangelical Christian and he became one too. Story goes that she worked on his show with him and kept a bible next to her – on her desk, etc – at all times and policed the crew’s behavior on the show. Idk if he is still an evangelical since they divorced but it could explain some of the behavior.

  4. Noodle says:

    Yeah, that’s pretty heinous. No matter how fearful you are, joking and making flippant comments about the experiences and deaths of millions and millions is unacceptable.

    Growing up our neighbor and friend was a Holocaust survivor. She was at Birkenau and Auschwitz and another camp (I can’t remember its name), which was primarily work focused. She faced Mengele at Auschwitz three different times and survived. At the work camp she made munitions, and smuggled in sand in her dress somehow that she was able to put a little bit of sand in each bullet, so it would misfire. When they were liberated she was reunited with her family and they were the only intact family from her village in Czechoslovakia to survive. They migrated to California shortly after.

    She was a badass and just recently passed in 2018. Her name is Ruth.

    • LaUnicaAngelina says:

      Ruth is a bad ass and I feel honored to know her story now. It will be shared by me often.

    • Bunny says:

      May Ruth’s name be a blessing.

      I can’t believe Alton Brown had to be told repeatedly, over and over (in the comments) how unfunny it was before he apologized.

      Crass and tactless, purposefully ignorant of the damage his words were doing. All the hallmarks of privilege. Ugh.

    • sa says:

      Ruth sounds like quite a woman. Thank you for sharing her story.

    • Sadezilla says:

      Thanks for the story about your friend Ruth, Noodle. I will remember it! What a strong and quick-witted person. I’m guessing she was pretty wonderful in personality too :)

      • Noodle says:

        She really was. She spent the last few years of her life speaking to school children about the Holocaust and her story. Her daughter dedicated her own life to telling the story, and wrote a biography called “Always Remember: Never Forget” (by Ruth Goldschmieva Sax and Sandy Sax Scheller in case you want to read it!) So many kids today don’t know the horrors of that time, and hearing her first person stories and seeing the artifacts (she would bring her black dress with the X on the back, as well as a few little dolls and trinkets she made to get her through) really made an impact on them and the community. We are very quickly losing these survivors, and as we know, some are trying to rewrite history. Her story, and so many like hers, are critical to our history and prevention of a similar situation.

    • Lucie Smetanová says:

      That another camp must have been Terezin (Theresienstadt in German). It was the first camp, where most czechoslovak Jews were transported. Very sad place.

  5. Scarlett says:

    Within my inner circle of “ride or die” girlfriends, after a few glasses of wine, I made the “When Barrett gets on the SC, do you think we will be Handmaids or Marthas, then we all agreed as outspoken as we are, we will end up at the Colonies or Jezebels”….and even that joke, the next day in retrospect, I felt it should not have been made.

    How AB thought it was okay to joke about the holocaust blows my mind, but in all honesty, over the years I have heard some questionable things about AB, and have been side eyeing him for a while now, can’t say I am terrible surprised he posted what he did.

  6. Ariel says:

    I don’t understand the path he took to get to the “camps” remark. Was it an anti trump, trump followers would put people (non white, gay) in camps?
    Because I’ve had that thought too, an eventuality of where trump leadership was going – I mean journalists would “disappear” first, that’s how it would’ve started.

    When it comes to the mass murder of 6 million men, women and children, best to be horrified into silence. And not joke about the clothing they were forced to wear before being murdered.

    Though I like Mel Brooks’ take on the subject- you can make jokes at nazis expense.
    Punching up (at the bad guys in power)
    Never punching down (at the victims of evil doers).

    • osito says:

      I have had the same (tortured/obsessive) thoughts for the last four years. And given how extremist, violent, and hateful the far right has become, I’ll probably always have some level of that hyper-vigilance.

      But there’s a big difference between the logical connections your mind makes about the reality in which you live (how many steps from immigrants and children in cages to American citizens? How do we stop the first the fastest and prevent the second?), and making horrifying jokes about concentration camp fashion. There’s also a pretty obvious social power differential here involving race, gender, and class — is Alton Brown ever really at risk of being tortured or harmed or exploited as a white man in America? A celebrity no less? I feel that all women have something to fear from far-tight conservatives right now, and what exactly we have to fear grows exponentially the farther we are removed from the construct of whiteness. That’s real. Whatever Alton Brown was doing — which was really murky aside from the casual antisemitism — was not based in real thoughts or feelings he has about a possible future scenario for himself or his people.

  7. sa says:

    My general rule of things not to joke about or make analogies to (to make other things seem worse) are rape, the holocaust, and slavery. None of those things are funny and none of them are comparable to anything else.

    Having said that, based on the title of this post I was actually expecting worse, which in itself frightens me about where we are right now that I would expect worse. The tweets are awful, no question, but I do understand his fear. The only reason I exist is because my teenage grandmother was scared of the rising antisemitism after WWI and left Europe while she still could. Her family didn’t feel the same urgency and they stayed. Only her sister was able to get out later. In the past 4 years I’ve wondered many times if I’m not as smart as my grandmother and staying in dangerous situation that will only get worse.

  8. Aang says:

    I didn’t really see a “joke” about the Holocaust. I admit to drawing out the right’s hate for gays and abortion to a similar scary analogy. The difference is I’ve never tweeted about it.

  9. pollyv says:

    Those aren’t the only strange tweets he’s posted lately. Days before the holocaust tweets his posts were unintelligible and it sounded like he was drunk. Many commenters were asking if he was okay because the tweets were completely out of character. Something is going on with him.

  10. Teresa says:

    I do agree that what is happening in America is frightening and I don’t think Biden will be able to unite us because the extreme right is at this point so insane. I don’t doubt with their hatred and anger many of the would go an extreme route of violence. We already have kidnapping plans that are thwarted, we have insane people driving busses off the road, trucks driving into protestors, and people showing up to polling stations with guns. We are not at the Holocaust level, but I don’t think it’s insane to see some frightening parallels to the extreme right regime wanting to control and even kill others who don’t agree with them.

  11. Nev says:

    his show isn’t all that by a long shot. just go away already. racist jackass.

  12. TIffany says:

    You know, now that I have had a minute to really think about it.

    He really is the only Food Network cast member whose interactions with others cast member are very limited.

    He does not do any crossover work on that network.

    Guy’s Grocery Games is the networks biggest hit right now (along with Triple D) and he has not participated or judged on that show, not once.

    He did Worst Cooks In America and wasn’t even asked back. The way they record those shows, he should have been on for 2 seasons easily but instead they brought in Alex.

    Yikes.

  13. Alice says:

    Jew (and Israeli) here. Not offended.
    My grandparents were sent to work camps in Romania during WW2 and suffered greatly during that time. I remember them telling plenty of holocaust jokes. It helped soothe the trauma.
    Not to say say that this justifies bad taste but making humor of a very scary experience can be therapeutic.

    • MrsBanjo says:

      Nah. Our humour amongst ourselves is one thing and many communities have their own form of it (gallows humour). But this isn’t that. This is a non-Jew having a meltdown at our expense and it’s antisemitic garbage.

  14. MrsBanjo says:

    Yeah, no. He only apologised after the backlash. He said “fuck you” to someone who criticised the tweets and also tweeted about gold teeth during all of that. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Nazis harvested gold caps and fillings of their victims. Someone at that time also mentioned being at a past show of his where he said a bunch of antisemitc and racist shit, so this isn’t even an outlier behaviour for him. He tweeted the quiet part and now everyone knows the scum he is.

  15. grabbyhands says:

    Alton Brown outing himself as a tone deaf, messy conservative was not on my 2020 bingo card. I don’t know how I was not aware of his political leanings this whole time and I’m not gonna lie, it was a bit of a knife to the heart – I have so many good memories attached to the OG Good Eats in particular.

    While it was a okay apology (I’ll give him an ounce of credit for not using the classic I’m sorry if YOU were offended), why in god’s name would you think a Holocaust joke was a good idea? Not to mention – please stop using the “very fine people on both sides” line as anything other than an example of it being a shitty thing to say. Stop legitimizing it like it was an appropriate thing to say and that it was a normal equivalency.

    While he’s correct in that being a Republican and voting that way are different things, you don’t state that and then immediately follow it up with a series of tweets indicating your mindset is the same as the current occupant in DC.

    I don’t know that I can watch him again.

    • Lady D says:

      I feel exactly the same as you, grabbyhands. I had no idea this was the real Alton. He and Anna Olsen are two of my all-time favourite chefs and I always watch both of them. I’m just crushed that this is who he really is. This is really depressing for me. I swear to god, Anna Olsen better have a clean past.

  16. MrsBanjo says:

    Where has he been the last four years? There are camps at the border with children being abused and dying. There’s zero justification for these comments. His “fear” is no excuse. He’s a rich, white dude who has the least chance of ever being in that situation and there are people RIGHT NOW actively in it. Where has be been in using his platform to try and stop this?

  17. whatever says:

    I used to be a tremendous fan of his show, and my kids and I still make his candy corn recipe every year at Halloween. But several years ago my friend and I went to see his live show, and it was… off-putting. In person he seemed bitter, unpleasant, and disinterested in his audience. It was such an unfortunate experience I actually apologized to my friend that I brought with me. And I’ve been wary of Alton Brown ever since. His recent tweets sound like what he sounded like live.

    • TIffany says:

      I can see this. He season of Worst Cooks in America was extremely eye opening. Considering he was born and raised and still lives in Athens, I would not consider him to be the most woke of dude, but would at least have sense to fake it.

      Like, know your audience.

    • megs283 says:

      YES! I commented similarly above. I saw his live show 5 or 6 years ago, and he made cruel jokes about people who had volunteered to help him on-stage. It was just “funny” enough so that people could laugh them off, but I thought they were very unkind. It was crazy to me that he could be so “different” in person than on his show.

      • Beach Dreams says:

        Years ago I came across a blog that had a post about attending one of his shows. The blogger made similar comments about Alton being off-putting and said that he also made some racist “jokes” that made the atmosphere more unpleasant and awkward. I stopped watching anything involving him after reading that. To hear about this latest ‘incident’ confirms how awful he must be.

  18. Rosemary says:

    Whether he’s conservative, Republican, whatever, that doesn’t matter all that much to me.

    A bigger issue I have with him is that he’s a cranky asshole. And IMO that’s the part of him that generated those awful tweets.

    Here’s a NYTimes profile of him from 2016: https://nyti.ms/2d4zjHb

    • AMA1977 says:

      Thank you for sharing that. Oh, the ennui of a middle-aged white man…

      I loved “Good Eats” and, despite being a culinary school graduate myself and quite an accomplished cook, I always learned things from watching it. However, Alton Brown’s dissatisfaction with his extraordinary good luck, and his disdain for the path that got him to where he is has been apparent in most of his recent offerings/appearances; I do not enjoy him any more and have not for a while. I’m sure he’s struggling and has some stuff going on…we all do right now.

      Go be quiet somewhere, figure out why you’re not content with your fabulous good luck to be paid incredibly well for doing something you love, and then GO HELP PEOPLE fight against the forces that are scaring you. Use your resources for good. Spread the wealth, make a difference. And for the love of God, shut up about atrocities you will never know and be thankful for that fact.

  19. Milkweed says:

    Yikes. He needs to step away from Twitter.

  20. Enis says:

    Back during his Food Network Star hosting days, it was rumored he was part of a group trying to get more evangelical Christians on TV. I am not surprised by this in the least.

    That being said, I get the fear of what will happen, and I have made a few horrible jokes about how we need to dig a secret basement to hide people and speculated where I could put in a false wall.

    • Lady D says:

      “we need to dig a secret basement to hide people” See, this is not funny. You live in a country that supposedly leads the free world. These kinds of jokes should never even have to be stated in what is considered (despite trump) the greatest country on earth. I hate Trump and I hate everyone who voted for him. They have caused so much pain and mental trauma, and the bastards enjoy it. You know what I hate the absolute most about the Trump reign? That filthy smug little smile that Mitch the Turtle is always wearing. He can’t help displaying it when he’s doing damage or witnessing the damage he’s inflicted. He needs to be put where no ever has to look at it or him again.

      • Enis says:

        It’s dark humor that I use to cope and usually only share with those in my closest circle. The fact that it’s actually something I need to consider is the part I find grimly funny and laugh so I don’t panic and disassociate. It’s this or spiral into a situation where I might not be able to crawl back out without being hospitalized.

      • Lady D says:

        I hope you don’t think I was slamming you, Enis. That really wasn’t my intent, honestly. I understand black humour all too well, I just find the situation you and others are in because of Trump horrible. It hurts my brain trying to figure out how the US fell so damn hard. I’ll never forget the joy I felt when Barak was elected president. Truly one of the highlights of my life, and now Trump? How does one reconcile that?

    • Jenn says:

      He’s ex-Baptist. Last week I read (it’s on his Wikipedia page) that he left the church behind fairly recently because the Southern Baptist Convention still tacitly endorses homophobia. I feel like he’s on a very fraught journey, somewhat late in life, toward progressive Christianity, probably reassessing his beliefs and melting down a little.

      I wouldn’t have tweeted what he tweeted, but the fear underlying Brown’s tweets — that Trump would indeed imprison half the country for “treason” if he could — is a fear that I share.

  21. Jules says:

    Him and Cazzie David seem to have the same sense of humor.

  22. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    God. People and Holocaust disrespect. My youngest said something inflammatory a few months ago, can’t remember exactly. He had heard it playing video games in his chats. Something about how people make it such a big deal. I was incensed. I grabbed him, sat him down next to me, and we consumed and digested actual Holocaust photographs and letters. What systemic racism looks like when it builds throughout decades then someone like Hitler rises to power and sees genocide as a duty. Kids today apparently gloss over the serious and important aspects of education.

  23. Valerie says:

    I don’t know anything about his (real) personality or political leanings, but is he okay? This seems really strange… maybe I just haven’t been paying attention, and he’s been like this all along.

  24. MoonTheLoon says:

    He’s a white, Christian male. What fecking camp’s he gonna end up in? Making light of genocide (especially during an active genocide) is beyond despicable.

  25. Jamie says:

    Food Network is racist….always has been and always will be