Hispanic Americans reject victimhood status as they embrace the American Dream
The plan seemed solid: bunch the various immigrants from Latin America into one single ethnic category and assign them the victimhood status that would allow resentment to fester into an urge to transform the country.
That was to be the nucleus of a larger strategy: do the same over and over with a lot of people, creating a national quilt of designated “minorities,” until we get to the point when we have a “majority minority” nation. The aggrieved would outnumber the contented.
Except human nature seems to be getting in the way. The subjects of the experiment have stubborn ideas about who they are, where they came from and where they want to be. Turns out, that, like all human beings, no, “heck no,” they don’t want to be victims.
This may be having real-life implications this election. As a result of this persnickety habit of humans to resist social engineering, Democratic Party leaders are scratching their heads and asking what on earth is going on with Hispanic voters now that Trump appears to be gaining stronger than usual support.
In the key state of Florida, Trump is ahead with “Latinos” in some polls, 50-46 percent in a recent NBC-Marist one. Nationwide, the president is at 41 percent in a Fox News Poll. That would be just three points shy of George W. Bush’s high-water mark since activists pushed the category through in 1977.
There are many plausible explanations. A recent Harvard/Harris poll showed that Hispanics give the president high marks for managing the economy and “stimulating jobs.” Many liberals have assumed that these voters care only about immigration, but they consistently place the economy and schools ahead.
Or it could be the riots or the Marxist roots of the organizers. An AP poll finds that Latino support of the protests is 31 percent, lower than the plunging national average of 39 percent.
Or, it could be something much deeper. Mexican-born Arizonan Gabriela Salcedo put it succinctly in The Washington Post this week: “It infuriates me that the government puts me in a box and calls me a Latino or a Hispanic or minority female. It doesn’t work for me, because I am no different than other Americans in terms of the things that interest me: to be able to put food on my table, to have a job.”
A recent vast study, including focus groups and national surveys, conducted recently by Ian Haney Lopez and Tory Gavito, substantiates Salcedo’s gripe.
It revealed what the two progressive pollsters declared “sobering” findings. The most breath-taking – to the pollsters – was that only the most progressive 25 percent of the people classified as Hispanics see themselves as “people of color.”
“In our survey, only one in four Hispanics saw the group as people of color. In contrast, the majority rejected this designation. They preferred to see Hispanics as a group integrating into the American mainstream, one not overly bound by racial constraints but instead able to get ahead through hard work,” they wrote. The infuriated Salcedo couldn’t have put it better.
This discovery (which I have written about extensively in two books, most recently “The Plot to Change America”) is devastating for the project. “Persons of color” is the nomenclature that confers victimhood status, and, as we’re constantly told, white conveys “privilege.”
Sociologist Philip Gleason, writing in 1991, speculated that the term POC has come into vogue as a way to phenotypically justify preferences. The term, he wrote, “owes part of its appeal to its implicit restriction of the special status accorded ‘designated minorities.’”
The rejection of immigrants from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, etc., and their descendants, to be categorized and to be considered victims, is far from new.
UCLA researchers paid by the Ford Foundation in the late 1960s to survey 1,550 residents of Los Angeles and San Antonio came back with the same information that now stuns Haney Lopez and Gavito. They wrote:
“Indeed, merely calling Mexican-Americans a “minority” and implying that the population is the victim of prejudice and discrimination has caused irritation among many who prefer to believe themselves indistinguishable white Americans. . .”
The activists on the ground today understand the challenge, and don’t hide that they see their mission as instilling grievances into people who prefer individual agency.
Maria Teresa Kumar, the head of Voto Latino, put it this way recently: “The challenge with the work that I do at Voto Latino is that I can’t get people agitated because often times they don’t know the great harm that has happened under the structures that we have been raised by.”
And still, as FiveThirtyEight made clear last week, “There’s No Such Thing as The ‘Latino Vote’.”
So, the future may not be so bright for those wagering on a “majority minority” electorate delivering votes for radical national transformation. Also within this past week, demographer Richard Alba once again reminded us that this future “won’t happen.”
The reasons are many, including what was discussed above, but also because of ethnic attrition: as people intermarry, the children feel part of the mainstream.
The conclusions for both parties should be obvious. Appeal to the better angels of all Americans, to their desires to improve their lot in life through individual agency. Don’t sow grievances.
Mike Gonzalez, the author of “The Plot to Change America: How Identity Politics is Dividing the Land of the Free,” is the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Senior Fellow at The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).
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