Are you (fill in the blank) enough to matter?
by Kathleen Parker
Columnist
May 08, 2013 12:43 AM | 670 views | 1 1 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Enough with this “enough” business. Latest to the question of whether a person is sufficiently identifiable as belonging to a particular demographic is Ted Cruz — the conservative Texas senator who happens to be of Hispanic descent.

But is he Hispanic enough? For what, his family taco recipe? Before you send in the sensitivity police, permit me to finish, por favor.

The suggestion that Cruz might not qualify as a representative Hispanic comes from a fellow Hispanic, former U.N. Ambassador and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Richardson was asked whether Cruz, who opposes immigration reform as currently proposed, represents most Hispanics with his views.

Richardson replied:

“Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform. No, I don’t think he should be defined as a Hispanic.”

Translation: If you disagree with the consensus of the demographic to which you belong, whether black, female, gay, Hispanic or whatever, then you are essentially not part of the conversation. At least not the one that matters — the vote-organizing constituency.

President Obama suffered similarly from a not-black-enough trope that began circulating when he first emerged as the potential Democratic candidate. His truly African-American bona fides aside, his civil rights resume was lacking and his ancestors hadn’t been slaves. What could the son of a Kenyan know about being a black American?

Leading this charge was Jesse Jackson, who also led the movement to popularize the term African-American in the 1980s and insisted on its mainstream adoption. To Jackson, who marched with Martin Luther King, Obama was a neophyte pretender.

Obama obviously succeeded in convincing African-Americans, including Jackson, that he was qualified to bear the mantle of his demographic. Once elected, he strategically identified with blacks in public ways. He stepped up to the plate in defense of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. when a white cop insisted that he prove ownership of the house he occupied. The iconic beer summit followed. And Obama identified Trayvon Martin, the black teen fatally shot by a neighborhood vigilante, as someone who could have been his son.

Others have been hauled before the court of identity politics, especially pro-life women. The official women’s position is “pro-choice,” and any who have sincere moral objections to the destruction of life in the womb are considered outliers to the cause of liberation.

Likewise, those who lament the tragic consequences of the dissolution of the traditional family, meaning a mother and a father, are quickly marginalized as bigots with a gay problem. The ipso facto zero sum-ness of our so-called discourse produces a quagmire of absolutism where truth is the ultimate victim.

Thus, we come to Cruz.

Cruz is one of those politicians whom people love or hate. Nearly everyone has a Cruz story — suddenly! — because to not have a Cruz story is to not be in the know. He’s the flavor du jour and, therefore, is variously subject to elevation and denigration as dictated by that barometer of relevance, trending on social media.

Given our litmus politics, Cruz is necessarily being scrutinized for his stance on immigration. As a Hispanic, he must be in favor of amnesty, or a “path to citizenship,” if you prefer.

For the record, I personally favor such a path. Realistically, I see no humane way to export 11 million souls, many of whom, not incidentally, constitute a significant wedge of our economic pie. Get rid of farm laborers only if you prefer a $5 orange.

But Cruz is also a conservative, former law professor and solicitor general of Texas with deep qualms about pretending that laws don’t matter. This does not mean he’s anti-immigrant, the preferred invective for any who oppose giving special status to people who came here without permission. In a quirk of the new, diverse Republican Party, the immigration reform legislation Cruz opposes was created in part by fellow Hispanic superstar, Marco Rubio.

Rather than insist that Cruz fall in line, shouldn’t we be celebrating a clear victory for true diversity? That is, diversity of thought.

Here we have two conservative Republicans of Hispanic origin who have different views on an important issue. Wasn’t this always the point of our grand American experiment?

Freedom means, foremost, freedom to speak without fear of impeachment or censure. And a diverse society succeeds only insofar as diverse ideas are welcomed. Cruz is no more bound by his heritage to fall in line with “almost every Hispanic” than Obama was required to place alms at the feet of those who, by their own analysis, considered themselves blacker than he.

Basta, already. Enough.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post.

Comments
(1)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
stephen jones
|
May 08, 2013
you made a comment on your editorial "are you ____ enough for... that says oranges would be $5 each if we didn't have "immigrants". Really? $5 an orange - how long does it take to pick one orange? If we are getting cheap produce off income exploitation - then how is that so good? I think $5 is a gross exaggeration. Secondly, why do so many people think it's impossible to export 11 million "immigrants" here illegally when we think we can get millions of hidden illegal guns of the street. Solution: We have patience! People we pop up in public way more than the guns we are trying to ban. I wish many immigrants to come to this country of opportunity for a better life, but not illegally in such great numbers as to put our own people on the streets. We will never get rid of high unemployment until we make the jobs availible for the people here first, and yes they will work farms, because i drive a taxi in cobb county and take dozens of people out to interviews that are desperate for anything. When our people are taken care of then we can help ignore millions of immigrants here illegally.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides