The Corner

Harry Reid’s Liberal Tribalism

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has gotten some attention for stating, “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be Republican.” This would be a remarkable comment even if improvidently made. But Senator Reid confirms that he meant to say it. Yet few from the media and political classes (save Marco Rubio) have addressed the statement.

This is, in a word, unacceptable. When the leader of the United States Senate makes a baldly racialist comment, the integrity of the institution requires an explanation. Contemporary political cynicism notwithstanding, a serious political class would demand a sober exegesis.

Does Senator Reid maintain that all Hispanics think alike? Do they all have the same interests? Are their political positions determined by genetics, their party affiliation hard-wired?

Are the interests of Mexican-Americans indistinguishable from those of Cuban Americans? Are all Hispanics identical regardless of national origin? Are Hispanics nothing more than a fungible political commodity?

Would Senator Reid say the same thing about blacks? After all, a sizable cohort of his fellow liberals insist that all  “authentic” blacks must be Democrats, their opinions assigned to them by the grievance elite.

The members of the mainstream press that uncritically report claims of racism leveled against conservatives, tea partiers, and Republicans have before them a plainly racialist, if not racist, statement proudly made by one of the most powerful elected officials in America. Ask him to unpack and defend that statement. Ask him whether he thinks Hispanics are somehow separate and distinct from Americans as a whole.

Ask him why, nearly 50 years after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, politics should be organized around the tribe rather than the individual.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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