Our National Pastime

by Jay Nordlinger

Among the items in Impromptus today is one about our national pastime: racial or ethnic toting up. There’s nothing Americans like more than racial-ethnic toting up. The old South Africans have nothing on us.

Congress-watchers are having trouble figuring out how many Hispanics there are in the House. Because the question of who is a Hispanic can be so tricky. Heaven forbid they should be just people, or Americans, or men and women. No, everyone must wear a racial or ethnic label. That’s the American way, apparently.

Our Katherine Connell noted this story on the Corner yesterday. KC is from New Hampshire, by the way, and therefore has a jump on her Republican rivals in the primaries three years from now.

One of my favorite moments in the last campaign occurred in Florida, when our illustrious vice president said to a man he met, “Are you Indian?” The man said, “American!” As I remarked at the time, that’s my kind of fellow citizen — far more than the Delaware Wizard is.

And do you remember a delicious fact from the University of Michigan Law School case, a few years back? This was an affirmative-action case. An admissions officer was trying to decide who qualified as a Hispanic. He was ready to rule out Cuban Americans — because “they vote Republican, don’t they?”

While I have you on the line, one more word about Impromptus today. Toward the end, I write,

When watching Alicia Keys, who sang at the Super Bowl, I thought of something I have long noticed, and written: When pop musicians sing, they often screw up their faces as though it hurt — as though the act of singing hurt. Their faces are often contorted in pain.

So strange. Bears analysis.

My friend Cristina sends me an e-mail: “I think they make those faces in order to be taken more seriously. Or to legitimize their art, somehow.” Then she says of her beloved husband: “Stephen certainly does that when singing.”


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