Thursday, August 30, 2012

Is Ted Cruz legitimately 'Hispanic'?

And more to the point: is that a fair or even respectable inquiry? The chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, who is of Mexican descent, apparently thinks so.

"This is a guy who didn't claim he was Hispanic any time before he won the primary," (Gilberto) Hinojosa said, adding that Cruz was born in Canada (although it is not a requirement to be born in the United States to run for U.S. Senate).

"He's half-Cuban, and he made point of saying he's half-Cuban and his mom was German-American, was born in Canada. Interesting for a 'birther' and a guy supported by 'birthers,'" Hinojosa said, referring to people who question whether President Obama was born in the United States.

The Cruz campaign has previously said Cruz's mother is actually Irish-Italian.

Hinojosa also criticized Cruz for not using his full name, and even questioning Cruz's heritage.
"If I was named 'Rafael Cruz,' I would be proud to use that name," Hinojosa said. "The guy has denied his own Hispanic heritage, if he is a Hispanic."

When asked if he really thinks Cruz is not Hispanic, Hinojosa said: "Well, I mean, you know you are what you believe you are, right?"

As the fight for Texas Hispanic voters literally gets into name-calling, Republicans at the convention say Latinos should like the GOP message of conservative family values, improving the economy, and creating jobs.

"Hispanic Texas, come home to your values and come home to the Republican Party," said State Rep. Aaron Pena (R-Edinburg). "We're all conservatives right now."

Hispanic voters, however, typically strongly favor Democrats, who point out that Cruz is against the DREAM Act and education cuts affecting Hispanic students.

To keep it that they way, they take issue with not only Cruz's positions, but of him as a person.
"It doesn't matter what your last name is," Hinojosa said. "It matters what you do for a community and what you believe in."

There was a time in the recent past when I would have favored this aggressive, no-holds-barred approach from my TDP chairman. But this seems too close to the "Obama is a Kenyan' stuff for my comfort.

I've been using 'Latino' instead of 'Hispanic' in my own efforts to reflect cultural sensitivity, as 'Hispanic' is regarded as a 1970-census-constructed label, which suggests a Caucasian origination. But this from the NYT usage and style blog demonstrates that there is some degree of division among the community itself.

Q. How do Hispanics themselves feel about the labels “Hispanic” and “Latino”?

A. The labels are not universally embraced by the community that has been labeled. A 2006 survey by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 48% of Latino adults generally describe themselves by their country of origin first; 26% generally use the terms Latino or Hispanic first; and 24% generally call themselves American on first reference. As for a preference between “Hispanic” and “Latino”, a 2008 Center survey found that 36% of respondents prefer the term “Hispanic,” 21% prefer the term “Latino” and the rest have no preference.

But back to the point: can a Mexican American properly accuse a half-Cuban born in Canada of not being Hispanic?

You may recall that I am married to a Cuban -- born in Cuba, and emigrated as a toddler, acquired her US citizenship the requisite seven years later -- so I have familiarity with the resentment some Latinos feel toward Cubans. I have observed this arises from two things:

1. Cubans don't ever call themselves Hispanic or Latino. They are Cuban. Period.

2. Cubans get much more preferential treatment by the US government as a result of the wet foot/dry foot immigration policy that has existed for decades. This generates the most contempt from other Latinos.

So once again, back to the question: is this, to paraphrase Todd Akin, legitimate? Or is it racist? Or something in between? Personally I lean toward the latter, but I'd like to hear what you have to say. Leave a response in the comments, please.

Update: To illustrate my disgust with this tactic, Romney surrogate John Sununu has repeatedly insinuated that Obama is un-American, yet he himself was born in Cuba, to a Palestinian father and a Salvadoran mother. As much as I believe in fighting fire with fire when it comes to Republican prevaricators, there are still some things that are out of bounds. This heritage smearing is one.


Greg said...

I love it when liberals try to argue that minorities who disagree with them don't qualify as minorities any more. It is the height of racism -- and when it comes from members of the minority group in question, it reeks of self-hating racism.

I wonder -- would the Losercrat chairman argue that Barack Obama isn't black enough because of his white mama, being raised by white grandparents, and spending the first 40% of his life being known as "Barry"?

PDiddie said...

Amaury Nora of Somos Tejanos, via Carl Whitmarsh listserv:

I would seriously tread lightly when when it comes to this issue, it will do nothing more but backfire and create blow back. Here is a little insight into the Mexican-American community, especially the Tejano, community - Cuban-Americans are not trusted, they are looked as the tokens of the GOP. This is why it is wrong to compare support between the African-American and the Hispanic community. The Hispanic votes have always been diluted. The Cuban American block have always voted Republican and in Texas, political affiliation has always been based on socio-economic level. This is why Orlando Sanchez did not beat Lee Brown. I know, I was there, and I took part in that election. There is more effective ways to go after him. I would push the issue of his involvement in Tom Delays quest to redistrict Texas. That would open a whole of worms, that would time with Dick Army. Wonder why we don't see wife? He would have to acknowledge his works for the banking industry. She currently works for Goldman Sachs, prior to that, she worked for Merrill Lynch, talk about revolving doors. If you really want to stir things up, bring up her involvement Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), dubbed Bush's North American Union Plan. You certainly have Alex Jones stirring up his base.

Heidi S. Cruz* is an energy investment banker with Merrill Lynch in Houston, Texas. She served in the Bush White House under Dr.
Condoleezza Rice as the Economic Director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council, as the Director of the Latin
America Office at the U.S. Treasury Department, and as Special Assistant to Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick, U.S. Trade Representative. Prior to government service, Ms.. Cruz was an investment banker with J.P. Morgan in New York City.

How effective was the North American Union campaign, it died a horrible death. From the Hoover Institute
The design of the SPP is creative in handling asymmetry by attempting a less political, technocratic negotiation process; however, this has raised issues of transparency and accountability that threaten the future of the SPP process.

Questioning his ethnicity will only rally the Hispanic in his favor. It is bad enough we have to endure the GOP's anti-Hispanic rhetoric, however, with the recent Supreme Court decisions that allow law enforcement to question any Hispanic they suspect to "illegal" as long as they are able to articulate the circumstances that they felt suspicious, based on their training and experience. To make matters worse, under Texas Penal Code - Section 38.02 a "person commits an offense if he intentionally refuses to give his name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has lawfully arrested the person and requested the information." In so doing, the cases constitutionalize racial profiling against Latinos and unduly expand governmental power and discretion beyond the borders of immigration enforcement.