Latino? Hispanic? The Power of a Political Artifact

“Ranting about ‘white male workplaces’ ignores the realities of class, personality differences and poor management practices.”

Frederick Lynch, “The Diversity Machine: the Drive to Change the ‘White Male Workplace,’ 1997


“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King


“Martin Luther King may have dreamed of a nation in which people would be judged by the content of their character, and in much of American life, his dreame has become real.  But not within the contemporary diversity industry, where indivdual men and women are grouped first and foremost by race, ethnicity and color. . . Racial preferences should now be artifacts of history. . .Two generations ago, Thurgood Marshall led the NAACP in declaring the ‘classifications of race and color have no moral or legal validity in our society.’”

Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, 10/1/1/2


It’s Hispanic Heritage Month again, hooray.  A whole month celebrating a government-defined minority.  I despise “diversity” and the idea that every institution must have “proportional representation” and “look like America.”  What crap.  Like eugenics, diversity is a well-intentioned but profoundly flawed idea that is inhumane, creating artificial “protected” classes (they actually use that phrase) that deny the humanity of individuals.

And why a whole month?  One day for gratitude (Thanksgiving), love (Valentine’s Day), human brotherhood (Christmas), atonement (Yom Kippur)…and these are 1/30 as important as our Hispanic Heritage?

In connection with that, the media are abuzz with news of Sergio Pena, a Latino/Hispanic (whatever) NASCAR driver.  Well, why not?  Hispanics should join white rednecks in burning fossil fuel for own amusement (NASCAR vehicles get 3-4 miles/gallon) and hastening the end of our finite supply. 

And diversity means more colored faces in the crowd, thus more money for NASCAR. 

But let’s not pretend Sergio climbed mountains of prejudice.  He’s invested his whole life (and a million of Dad’s money) to get this far.  How about NASCAR goes into the Phillippines or Somalia (or even Appalachia) to recruit and train drivers?  Then I’d believe they care about diversity.

Good news: there’s enough pushback that seven states have banned racial consideration in college admissions.

Bad news: a report from the Century Foundation lays out other, proposed approaches, “creative methods of assuring diversity,” such as looking at applicants’ socioeconomic status. 

No, no, no, no, NO. 

As I have been saying for decades, any time you compromise competence in favor of something else, competence will inevitably be compromised.  Sounds circular, but the diversity-mongers don’t get it.  College admissions should be based on academic performance and other individual, personal factors and talents (excluding sports, IMHO, but that’s another whole story; sports are a huge income-producer and status symbol and are thus untouchable).

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Here’s my suggestion for what Spanish-speaking callers should hear when they press 2 to continue in Spanish:

“It is obvious that by pressing 2 you do not feel it necessary to learn the language of your adopted country. This attitude is not acceptable.  Please hang up and call again when you are able to do business in English.  Thank you.”

I mean, really.  Why Spanish?  Why not have callers press any of 50 or 100 buttons to enable the conversation in any language spoken in America, from Cantonese to Urdu?

Lots and lots of them

The answer is simple: sheer numbers. Hispanics outnumber any other immigrant group, so, the reasoning goes, concessions have to be made. 

Can you imagine what would have happened if my father, along with other American Jews, insisted on being able to conduct telephone business in Yiddish, the language of their immigrant forebears?  What if Italians or Chinese insisted on it?  There are quite a few of them, after all.

But no. Dad, along with millions of other second-generation immigrants from a hundred countries, was expected to learn the language of his new native land, and he did.  

Admittedly, many Hispanics want their kids to speak English, and their desire to assimilate is commendable.  They can still speak Spanish in their private lives, of course. Linguists call this phenomenon “code-switching.”  This is all about having a single language for the public discourse and activities of the nation. 

Division and exclusion

But companies and the government, afraid of losing sales and votes, respectively, won’t encourage that.  Instead, because of their spineless political correctness, they hinder assimilation and encourage isolation by providing a Spanish alternative at every turn. 

And of course, we have to brag about how color-blind we are (the truth is just the opposite, of course), by paradoxically singling out the special groups. 

One company I worked for was so PC that in addition to Black History Month, it added Hispanic AND Asian Heritage months.  The latter is even more transparently bogus, based only on geography, encompassing dozens of ethnic groups from a huge geographical area.  A Japanese, for these purposes, is considered the same as a Pakistani.   Why no Women’s Achievement Month?  Or Jewish Achievement month?

So for one quarter of the year, they were celebrating some ethnicity or other.  A very poor way of making employees feel that they’re members of one company (which, after all, is the primary reason they’re there together – to make money as a group).

There is no better way to exclude someone – right to his/her face, in fact – than by speaking another language.  All over the world, we see the problems that beset multi-lingual societies.  In India, there are so many competing languages with millions of speakers that the government decided to continue using the language of the British conquerors.  A good, practical move, I’d say.

Hispanics or Latinos?

So do we call them Hispanics or Latinos?  A Google query generated two million hits, with answers all over the map.  One questioner even asked which variant is “politically correct.”  In trying to get it right for a speech, I was told that “Latino” is more common in California, while “Hispanic” predominates elsewhere. 

A political artifact

There’s no authoritative answer, and it doesn’t matter.  The group is a political artifact, throwing all Spanish speakers and Spanish-descended Americans into a single, artificial political group which has become so numerous (and so aware of the government benefits it can get by voting as an artificial group) that TIME magazine predicts (March 5, 2012 cover story) that they will pick the next President.

What a crock of shit. 

Other than speaking Spanish, what do the people from two dozen countries have in common? 

Are you going to tell me that if you put groups of Argentinians, Mexicans, and Venezuelans in the same room (or maybe a bar), that they would eagerly embrace each other as Hispanic/Latino brothers?  Or would national culture, pride and identity (not to mention regional and social differences in their Spanish) get in the way? 

Would a Spaniard feel the same connection to his/her so-called Hispanic brethren and sistren in, say, Peru, as he does for his fellow Spaniards?

And how about Brazil, which is right down there with the rest of them and way too big to ignore.  They don’t speak Spanish, but are they considered Hispanic on other grounds?  What grounds?  It’s a puzzlement!!

When did they start to be Hispanic?

I ought to do some research into the origin of Hispanics as a unified political group in this country.  And yes, I know they were treated harshly early on.  Indeed, their white bosses and masters were probably the first to lump them together as “Hispanic,” because that master/boss didn’t care about geographic differences.

But every immigrant group was treated harshly at first, including Jews from many countries.  At some point, Jews started ignoring national origins and regarding their shared culture (which Hispanics do NOT have, unless you count being conquered) as primary. 

In Chicago, early in the last century, Julius Rosenwald, the enlightened Sears CEO and philanthropist (whose foundation, BTW, helped educate large numbers of Black children in the South), encouraged the sophisticated, assimilated German Jews of the city’s North Side to help their impoverished Jewish brethren (more recently arrived from Southern and Eastern Europe) on the city’s South Side. 

Assimilating through language

But, as noted, Jews, along with every other immigrant group, did not demand linguistic equality.  They did not demand bilingualism.  They did not care to be educated partly in Yiddish, which would have definitely retarded their progress toward becoming full participants in American life, just as bilingual education (yet another arm of PC) does today.

Why curry favor with Hispanics?  Because their high birth rates make them a political treasure – and for corporations, a potential gold mine.  By some inexplicable calculus, hiring enough Hispanics in high-profile positions (and Hispanics generally) translates into market-share points – that is, if the company makes a big deal out of how many Hispanics it employs and makes sure everyone knows about it (that’s called good PR), more people will be favorably disposed to buy its products.

A hypocritical sham

Hiring Hispanics is part of the pandering diversity/affirmative action game.  The whole idea of “diversity” is a hypocritical, disingenuous sham, carried out under the dubious philosophy of “essentialism”: each Hispanic embodies some magical “Hispanic-ness” that will enable the company to better reach its Hispanic consumers.

This is anti-humanistic in the extreme, this pretense that a person’s language and ethnicity are more important that his/her individuality.  I was once quoted to this effect in an interview with a PR/speechwriting publication.  I asked, “What’s the point of our looking different if we all think alike?” 

My boss chewed me out over that.  I was proud of my stand, and I suppose this toady was just doing his job, but I will still give him a swift kick in the groin if we ever meet again.  I even got a rebuke from the CEO herself, who informed me that “diversity is company policy” (translation: “your days here are numbered, white man”).

Gimme a fucking break.  How exactly is some IT or finance staffer with a Spanish surname going to come up with winning product and market strategies that will score points with Hispanics?  Company executives probably never heard the word “essentialism,” but that’s the doctrine they’re following.

Diversity fluff and BS

A job posting from Campbells Soup says “At Campbell, we cultivate and embrace a diverse employee population. We recognize that people with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives fuel our growth and enrich our global culture.”

AGGHHH (retching).  This is diversity fluff and buzzwords that mean nothing at all. 

Translation of first sentence: "We have quotas, and we’ll preferentially hire blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and women to fill those quotas and look good." 

Translation of second sentence: replace “recognize” with “assume.”  Never mind that every individual inherently fulfills the criteria of diversity, being different from every other individual.  We need to see color and gender as proof, whereas in the real world, boss-ocracy, obedience, conformity, and groupthink are what really determine the organization’s course of action.  The rest is just window-dressing.

The remainder of the posting is lies and fluff.  There is no demonstrable way in which diversity fuels growth and no reason why a corporation would want its culture “enriched.”  Whatever corporations say their “culture” is (and “corporate culture” is a management/consultant buzzword that has stuck, depite its meaninglessness), its actual culture, with very few exceptions, is militaristic and founded on loyalty and obedience.

Wasting time and money on “diversity”

Enormous amounts of time and money are wasted each year on “diversity”-related activities – not only the month-long celebrations, but recruiting and mentoring, which uses the employees as free labor in raising the company’s diversity numbers.  There are Diversity councils, company-wide diversity conferences, and more.

It all distracts significantly from the resources needed to make the company competitive and successful.  If you’re planning a diversity conference, that’s time and effort subtracted from the actual work of the company. 

Diversity activities are a self-imposed handicap, a ball and chain that the organization drags around, despite the fact that there are no – repeat NO – empirical studies that clearly demonstrate that a diverse company performs better. Yet they keep this crap up, year after year.

You can bet that the Asian and European countries currently eating our lunch and/or owning our debt don’t give a shit about diversity.  The same goes for smaller American firms that stay off the radar screen. 

Think of all the high-tech companies populated by Asian and Caucasian nerds.  They don’t whine about proportional representation.  They prefer to put their time, energy, and other resources into more practical pursuits – like making great products and winning in the marketplace.

Gotta “look like America.”

But to the diversity-mongers, there apparently is some advantage to an organization that “looks like America.” 

In fact, according to the tenets of diversity policy, there must be “proportional representation:” because America is such a successful country, the logic goes (there’s room for doubt on that one – we’re surprisingly low among industrialized nations in many measurements of educational achievement and quality of life), we have to have the exact same proportion of blacks, Asians, and women as in the country at large.

Just those three.  We didn’t need a Frenchman, a Zulu, or an Australian aborigine. In one company I worked for, “Diversity” was one of the managerial performance criteria, along with actual business measures like P&L; it’s one more goal the manager has to achieve.

Again, what a crock. 

Do they not see that because of Hispanics’ high birthrate and immigration, they will, by mid-century, be 30% of the population (actual demographic prediction)?  Are they prepared to make their company 1/3 Hispanic? 

Nobody thinks about that.  Instead, it’s a race for horseflesh and numbers.  I’ve seen the bar graphs.  They do keep count.  A sharp Hispanic or Black woman (or even a seemingly sharp one) is a double-dipper and can practically write her own ticket.

Enough already!

Diversity and affirmative action will go on forever, just like farm subsidies and any other government policy that benefits a large number of voters.   It’s been in effect for a generation, so can’t we say enough already? 

There is now a plethora of Hispanic professional network and mentoring organizations (organizations of Hispanic accountants, lawyers, etc.) to help young people move up.  Same for Blacks.  Women are fantastic networkers.  Everybody has access to an “old boys’ network.

Enough already!  Why do Hispanics and others think the bar must always be lowered for them?  When will we stop “race-norming” life for the no-longer-oppressed who are forever allowed to be less competent?

How many more decades of special preferences do they need before the fake debt of discrimination by people long ago is repaid by today’s while males, who suffer for crimes they didn’t commit?

Downsides of diversity

No matter.  Reverse discrimination will continue to benefit this fake, made-up political artifact, far, far, into the future, even though it is not only ineffectual, diverting and wasting resources on a false goal, but also despite the facts that 

(i) it creates resentment in the white men who are discriminated against through no fault of their own (as a Jew, I know a lot about “racial guilt”) – thus dividing the organization – and,

(ii) perhaps worst of all, it allows the “protected classes” (that’s what they actually call them) to operate according to a double standard (how can they endure the humiliation?); it allows their mediocrity to pass for adequacy, thus undermining the competitiveness of the company, which needs all the brainpower it can get. 

Language of the conquerors

A doctor I know is making his third attempt to learn Spanish.  Again, that’s because there are so many of them infiltrating our PC society.  It’s almost as if he’s learning the language of the “conquerors.” 

Consider: English is the international language of aviation.  It is the de facto language of scholarship, science, technology, and business.   Machine-aided translation is better than ever.  Given all this, if you are a native speaker of English, you are sitting on top of the world.

If you want to learn an important world language, try Mandarin Chinese.  If you’re going to live and work in another country, then by all means learn the local language.  Too many American businesspeople and diplomats fail to do that (e.g., there are way too few speakers of Arabic in the State Dept.), to the detriment of their organizations and our country.

But to me, absent the above conditions, learning Spanish is a retreat, a defeat for a unified America.  It flies in the face of the dynamic of assimilation.  I assure you this doctor does not expect to work side-by-side with Spanish-speaking physicians who know no English.  No, this is a concession, such as one would make to a conqueror. 

Except that here, matters are reversed: you learn Spanish if you want to speak to the hired help or the clientele – or if you’re a politician eager to kiss Hispanic ass and get Hispanic votes.

Who will dare?

What company will dare to be first to point to the Emperor’s new clothes, to note (as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor did) that we’ve been at this diversity thing for a whole generation, that grouping and counting people by gender and ethnicity is odious and bogus, that it’s not worth the investment, and henceforth all admissions, hires and promotions will be made on the basis of talent, competence and experience alone?

Do you think that someday some CEO will have the balls to do that? I‘m not holding my breath.

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Comment by Alan Perlman on October 12, 2012 at 10:58pm

Great idea! A whole month of celebrating humanist ideas and ridiculing religion.  I would definitely be a part of that.

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