The Corner

The one and only.

America’s (Interminable, Screwy) Race Games


At Contentions, John Podhoretz twits Eugene Robinson for asking on TV this morning, “Can Marco Rubio appeal to Hispanics?” John notes that Rubio is the child of two Cuban refugees. Ah, but there’s the rub: I have written about this many times. I will give the Left this: Race is a social construct, often — just as they say. So is “ethnicity” (a word I feel bound to put quotation marks around — same with “race,” sometimes).

A few years ago, there was an important affirmative-action case in the Supreme Court. It involved the University of Michigan Law School. And there was a delicious detail, amid a mountain of details. The question had arisen at the school — in its admissions office — “Do we count Cubans as Hispanics?” And someone commented, “Don’t they vote Republican?”

Exactly. We are a very peculiar society, where race and ethnicity are concerned. Blacks and Hispanics (non-Cuban)? “Minorities.” Japanese Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Jewish Americans? Not “minorities.” This is a very political game, and even a mental and spiritual game: Maybe it would be best to call it an attitudinal game.

If you’re not of the grievance culture, you don’t qualify as a minority, in the eyes of some. Cuban Americans tend not to participate in the grievance culture — at least the traditional grievance culture: Their grievances, which are damn well founded, are against the Cuban dictatorship.

Is Clarence Thomas black? Do conservative views disqualify a person from blackness? Sonia Sotomayor got to be a “wise Latina.” Was Miguel Estrada a “wise Latino” — is he? No, actually: He’s just a brilliant person and lawyer, who would have made a splendid judge. And you may remember a charming bumper sticker from the 2008 presidential campaign, alluding to the GOP vice-presidential nominee: “She’s not a woman, she’s a Republican.”


One more thing: During the present campaign, Sen. Harry Reid, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, said, “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, okay? Do I need to say more?” I hope that, by the end of the day, Reid’s state, Nevada, will have elected a Hispanic Republican governor: Sandoval. And that a state near him, New Mexico, will have elected a Hispanic Republican governor: Martinez. And a female Hispanic Republican governor at that! (First female Hispanic governor in America, if you’re counting.)

Most of all, I hope that Nevada will have elected Sharron Angle over Harry Reid. I believe it is my No. 1 Election Day wish. And it would be so wonderful to have the great Bob Ehrlich win in Maryland. I hope that those minority voters in Maryland — Republicans — are flooding the polls.


Sign up for free NR e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review