In a post Thursday on National Review Online, Mark Krikorian attempted to deflect criticism from Sen. Marco Rubio against so-called “Democratic” Hispanic critics, writing, “Apparently it's news that 'Rubio faces Hispanic Critics.' ” According to the Politico article Krikorian was referencing, “the broader Hispanic electorate” is not enthused with Rubio because of “his hard-line stance on immigration,” especially in light of recent revelations about his background. But Krikorian rationalized the criticism as “phony,” claiming that it's “hilarious” to expect Rubio to appeal to a broader swath of Hispanics because of their shared ethnic history.
Here's a hint: his critics are -- drum roll -- Democrats! The controversy itself is obviously phony (the Post has his parents' 1956 immigration application but we can't see Obama's transcripts?), but what's really hilarious is the idea that a Cuban-American Republican is somehow naturally going to appeal to Mexican-American Democrats just because their ancestors came from countries that were once both part of Spain's long-defunct empire. News flash: Cubans aren't Mexicans. Puerto Ricans aren't New Mexico Hispanos. And Mayan-speaking Guatemalans certainly aren't Portuguese. The very idea of an “Hispanic” or “Latino” identity is an ahistorical fiction, but one we are doing everything in our power to create and reinforce.
Setting aside the fact that the Politico article also highlighted Republican critics of Rubio or that it was in no way making the point that Rubio's appeal, or non-appeal, is predicated on his ethnicity, what is Krikorian really saying here? Is he really pushing the idea that the only reason one Hispanic can disagree with another is because one is an American of Puerto Rican descent and the other is an American of Cuban descent? Is he in fact claiming Hispanics or Latinos don't have the intellectual capacity to take sides because, well, they can't really argue the merits of an issue since ethnic history trumps all?
This premise would be ridiculous in this day and age, but not for Krikorian. He has stated that Haiti is “so screwed up” because “it wasn't colonized long enough.” He once blamed a bank's demise on its diversity policy -- specifically, its commitment to Hispanic diversity. He has repeatedly suggested that the U.S.-born children of foreign nationals, because they won't be raised in the United States, could one day grow up to become terrorists. (And there's more.) And let's not forget that Krikorian is the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which is part of an anti-immigrant network comprised of hate groups founded on nativist ideology.
In his apparent dig at the Politico article, the headline of Krikorian's piece reads: “They All Look the Same to Me.” But the article highlighted important issues from Hispanics, namely Rubio's “anti-immigrant” stance, which Rep. Luis Gutierrez blasted as “xenophobic” and “tied to the extremist right wing.” Rubio's immigration stance, reported the article, is seen as problematic in light of recent revelations that Rubio's parents reportedly weren't Cuban “exiles,” as he'd claimed all along, but immigrants whose story mirrors those whom he “want[s] to deny an opportunity in the United States today,” as Gutierrez said.
The Politico article also reported:
“He is a laughing stock in the Southwest ... because people discovered he wasn't telling the truth about his political Cuban exile history,” said DeeDee Garcia Blase, founder of Somos Republicans, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based GOP group that backs a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. “They are saying, at the end of the day, 'He is just like us. His mom and dad came here; they migrated because of economic reasons, just like the rest of us.' ”
Those are real grievances, and they have nothing to do with ethnic history. And the Politico article was hardly suggesting that all Hispanics share the same views, but immigration has been an issue that resonates with them more than any other group of people.
Krikorian goes on to offer this advice:
This is why we need to start treating Colombians and Cubans, Mexicans and Dominicans as regular immigrant groups, not a new collective “minority” group whose phony leaders want in on the gravy train. The place to start would be to banish from all government record-keeping any reference to race or ethnicity other than for blacks -- I long for the day we can rid of that classifications too, but there's a difference in kind between the historical experience of black Americans, on the one hand, and every other group of people in our country, on the other.