Illustrating once again its well-deserved reputation for pointing out the bleeding obvious, the New York Times today informs its readers that people who share a common ancestry often take different approaches to life.
The paper’s case study du choix involves Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, two Republicans of Cuban extraction who have had the downright temerity to live their lives in dissimilar ways. Marco Rubio, the Times records, was “nurtured” by Cubans in Miami and “bounces effortlessly between two cultures” and two languages. Ted Cruz, by contrast, is more of a Texan than anything else, and as such is “partial to cowboy boots, oversize belt buckles, hard-right politics and the fire-and-brimstone style of the Baptist church.” Unlike Rubio, Cruz had a relatively mono-cultural upbringing: He “attended overwhelmingly white Christian schools in Houston,” “prefers Spanglish to Spanish,” and “changed his Spanish-sounding name, Rafael Edward Cruz, as a teenager.” These decisions, the Times suggests, may hurt him come election time.
Elsewhere in the piece, the Times submits half-critically that, by changing the name he goes by to “Ted,” Cruz has “de-emphasized his Latino identity.” A similar complaint is often thrown at Bobby Jindal, whose given name, his enemies are fond of pointing out, is “Piyush.” What a tangled web this approach weaves. We are told ad infinitum that identity is little more than a socially and historically constructed concept, and that one is able to liberate oneself by controlling it. In consequence, one might ask what right anybody has to “assign” a set of cultural values to a person and then to complain when he rejects them? If Rafael wants to be Ted, he’s Ted. If Piyush wants to be Bobby, he’s Bobby — or, indeed, he is “Susan” or “Walrus” or “Mambo Number Five” or whatever exercise in patois-pushing is popular on the quadrangle this week. Once upon a time, swift assimilation was regarded as something to which new Americans should plainly aspire. In the age of limitless self-actualization, has it now become a liability?
Liberal Hispanic groups have launched a campaign designed to turn Latino voters against the two Cuban American Republicans who have risen to the top tier of the GOP presidential field — assailing Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz as traitors to their own culture.
“Traitors,” incidentally, is not hyperbole. It’s a direct quote:
Dolores Huerta, an influential labor leader and civil rights activist, called Cruz and Rubio “sellouts” and “traitors” at the gathering and said the Hispanic candidates “are turning their backs on the Latino community.”
Huerta was joined in this assessment by the head of a Democratic party front-group:
“It’s not comfortable for us to do this, to call out members of our own community who don’t reflect our community values, but we have no choice,” said Cristóbal Alex, president of the Democratic-backed Latino Victory Project.
Put another way, Rubio and Cruz stand accused of being what in our current political parlance, would be termed “cucks” — that is, members of one group who are primarily concerned about the perceived interests of another.
To grasp just how ugly this way of thinking is, try replacing the words “Hispanic” and “Latino” in the excerpts above with “Anglo” or “Caucasian.” As might a dim white supremacist, Alex and Huerta are supposing there is only one legitimate way to be of their ethnicity and that is to agree with them. Worse, they are presuming that there exists a set of “community values” to which all members of the “Latino” tribe are expected uncritically to subscribe, and that because Cruz and Rubio have refused to fall into line they must be expelled. Had Alex argued instead that Rubio and Cruz might struggle with Hispanic voters because their political positions do not appeal to the majority, he would have been on solid ground. But he didn’t. Had Huerta noted that, statistically, most of her members preferred Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party, she would have been stating nothing more than an uncontroversial fact. But she didn’t. Instead, the pair appointed themselves as spokesmen for the volk, and began excommunicating the “cuckspanics” with extreme prejudice. Are we still moving forward?
— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer for National Review.