The Corner

Hispanic 101

NYU history professor Jonathan Zimmerman deconstructs the category “Hispanic” in today’s LA Times.  Richard Nixon gave it a push in 1970 in the ever-green hope of attracting Latinos to the Republican party:

“All Spanish-speaking Americans share certain characteristics — a strong family structure, deep ties to the church, which makes them open to an appeal from us,” wrote one GOP campaign strategist on the eve of Nixon’s 1972 presidential reelection bid.

Whatever the truth of the observation in 1972, let’s review the myth of the redemptive Hispanic today.  Fifty-three percent of all Latinas under the age of 20 have been pregnant at least once, virtually always outside of wedlock. An official with the Pew Hispanic Center recently recounted to me the gang violence and ubiquitous teen pregnancy in his former high school on the east side of Los Angeles. Such social facts do not help California’s budget situation. 

Zimmerman amusingly calls Sonia Sotomayor “one of the most qualified nominees in the history of the Supreme Court,” and I can think of at least one Corner contributor who would take exception to his insistence that racial categories are artificial. Still, his short history of the evolution of the political category “Hispanic” is interesting. 


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