The Republican Party blowback from the Jason Richwine bomb is just beginning. One indicator was Pablo Pantoja’s resignation as the GOP’s Florida Hispanic outreach director. Blowback, politically speaking, is the unintended consequence to a party responsible for speech and measures taken.
The Jason Richwine bomb
Richwine, you might remember, was the Heritage Foundation researcher who resigned after he co-authored a widely discredited, by liberals and conservatives alike, policy analysis that made wild claims about the cost of integrating the undocumented immigrant population.
More tellingly, the Washington Post disclosed Richwine had earlier written a Harvard Ph.D. dissertation asserting—rather dumb, if you ask me—“No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.”
First of all, “Hispanic” is a generic term, begun during the Nixon administration, to politically identify a large “heritage” group and communities with possible long-term potential for Republicans. Hispanic is not a race but made up of many races, national origins, ethnicities and socioeconomic levels.
Secondly, Republicans foresaw as happened that way more than a quarter, nearing a third of the Hispanic group would marry outside the group, verified last year by Pew Hispanic Center research.
It implies, if you follow Richwine and you believe in comical extrapolations given to IQ scores—probably 28 percent of the U.S. population is likely to become dimmer for selecting Hispanic partners. Or, another way, brighter through children when Hispanics marry out.
But that’s not what that research was intended to do. Instead, it was set up as a phony pretext for discriminating against unauthorized Hispanic immigrants. It’s not hard to see that. Republican Pablo Pantoja did, and he blew that cover. Enough is enough.
Pantoja not only quit his post as Republican outreach director; he did so publically and announced he was joining the Democrats. In a letter to “Friend” the day after he resigned, he explained he did so because, “It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today.”
The Heritage Foundation (referred to as “a well-known organization,”) geared its study to be “at the center of the immigration debate.” The research intended to make human beings to be viewed as “outright unacceptable” because of their immigrant status. That organization distanced itself from Richwine’s assertions. Yet, it and other related research is padded with “racist and eugenics-based innuendo,” he wrote.
Pantoja said that “pseudo-apologies” used as “a quick fix” really hurt when used to forgive and forget the deep-rooted Republican Party problem. Even by blandly distancing themselves, Republican leaders are still complicit and “doesn’t take away from the culture within the ranks of intolerance.”
The lesson for the rest of us is not that Republicans are in trouble for slouching toward a new-brand prejudice based on a Suwannee-River singing racism. It is that someone called it on them from life experience.
Pantoja wrote: “My grandfather served in an all-Puerto Rican segregated Army unit, the 65th Infantry Regiment. He then helped along my grandmother, shatter glass ceilings for Puerto Rican women raising my aunt to become the first Puerto Rican woman astronomer with a PhD in astrophysics (an IQ of a genius as far as I’m concerned). Puerto Ricans, as many other Americans still today have to face issues of discrimination in voting and civil rights.”
My only regret is that Pantoja was so quick to join the Democratic Party, with its own set of delays, denseness, compromised principles, set of corporate interests and Obama-style misreading of Lincolnesque compromise when principle should stand.
The one thing Pantoja did make clear in his letter was that “I am also making a modest contribution to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for the efforts in helping protect the rights of immigrants and civil liberties in general.” Now that is putting his money where his mouth is. That kind of blowback is the needed kind.
Jose de la Isla, a nationally syndicated columnist for Hispanic Link and Scripps Howard news services, is author of “The Rise of Hispanic Political Power”.