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A minority view: the problem with liberals

by Lionel A. Garcia Monday, Jun. 02, 2003 at 10:20 AM

The problem lies in the inherent mind-set of any organization as liberal as The Times. For minorities, this produces what I call paternalistic condescension: paternalistic because the liberal feels that only he knows what is good for the minorities, since the minorities cannot take care of themselves; and condescension because he feels good by lowering himself to help those he feels are below him.

I have been following the dilemma at The New York Times. I'm sure most people know by now that a reporter, Jayson Blair, was fired for fabricating and plagiarizing many stories. From news reports, it appears that Times editors knew about his deficiencies long before he was fired.

The question is: Why wasn't he fired long before ago? Was it his race? Blair is black and, according to some people, minorities are treated by liberals such as The New York Times editors with unusual care under these circumstances. I have read that at least 12 Times editors had access to the reporter's work and were concerned about his behavior. One or two wrote warning memos, but most remained silent.

Every article I've read about this reporter has some truth to it. Some condemn the favoritism afforded minorities through affirmative action. Others have blamed the publisher and editors of The Times for taking on as their priority an effort to diversify the paper with more minorities. Some claim it was political correctness that kept the editors from firing Blair as soon as they found out what he was up to. Everyone wants to have an opinion, but no one wants to see the truth.

The problem is not with The New York Times. The problem lies in the inherent mind-set of any organization as liberal as The Times. For minorities, this produces what I call paternalistic condescension: paternalistic because the liberal feels that only he knows what is good for the minorities, since the minorities cannot take care of themselves; and condescension because he feels good by lowering himself to help those he feels are below him.

The problem with this mind-set is what it does to all the minority individuals who are equal to or superior to those who hold it. If these are a faceless group, as most of them are, the liberal can ignore them. These people simply do not exist.

On the other hand, however, the high-profile, superior minority can be attacked with impunity, with the secure knowledge there will be no repercussions from the liberal press. Witness the treatment of Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Clarence Thomas. Observe the treatment of Hispanics nominated for a federal bench who are successful.

The criticisms are withering and personal: Powell, Rice and Thomas are "too white." "House slaves." They have sold their souls and are not really black. Or they have black skins but white souls. The successful Hispanics nominated for federal jobs are not Mexican enough.

Michael Olivas, a law professor at the University of Houston, wrote ("Being Latino doesn't qualify Estrada to be judge," Outlook, Feb. 12) that the Hispanic nominee for a federal court, who came from a well-established family in Honduras, was not in touch with Latino Americans. Would it be a better thing if Hispanic judicial nominees were poor and ignorant? What is the logic here? Why do liberals praise the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and condemn Powell and Rice? Why do they praise the late Cesar Chavez, a migrant worker, and condemn successful Hispanics?

I think I know why: I believe that most liberals hate for minorities to be more successful than they are. If we are empowered, they have lost their power base.

I could write of the many experiences I have had with the liberal mind-set, but let me tell you of just two. Several years ago, a New York Times reporter called to ask if I would consent to do an interview. The reporter's question to me was: Why was I not being published by a big New York publisher? We spoke for about an hour on my publishing history, my background, and then I asked the Times reporter why she thought I wasn't being published in New York. She said she didn't know. It was beyond her. When I explained to her why New York didn't like me she said goodbye, and I never heard from her again.

Here is what I told her: Since I am a minority, New York publishers want for me to be in jail, unjustly, of course. Or they want for me to have been in prison and now writing about my prison experiences. They want me on drugs. The want me to be a victim. They want for my mother to have been a pot-smoking prostitute, my father to have died on death row, unjustly, of course, and due to the horrible Texas laws on capital punishment. Or they want for my parents to have been migrant workers. (In one of my book tours I traveled with an ex-convict, a murderer, who had written poetry in prison. New York loved him. He later got a job teaching creative writing at a California university.) I'm not Mexican enough. I write too much like the Anglo. What does that mean? To me it means that I am as good or better than they and that cannot be tolerated.

It is curious that when I was with a Hispanic book publisher, The New York Times reviewed all my books. Now that I have changed to a mainstream publisher (and since that interview), I have not been reviewed.

The second experience was when Amherst College, an elite school in Massachusetts, invited me to apply for an opening as writer in residence. My son-in-law, who is from Massachusetts, warned me that when Amherst found out that I was not what they thought a Hispanic should be, they would never offer me the job. I honored the request and applied anyway. I considered it a great opportunity. I sent my resume. Amherst cooled after that. They wrote to thank me but said they wanted someone else. My son-in-law was right. I thank God every day that I didn't go.

Look at what liberal politicians do to "help" minorities have a high profile. Two examples come readily to mind. Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards appointed as one of her staff a Hispanic woman who later was found out to have lied about her education. She had never graduated from the University of Texas. Former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier appointed to his staff a Hispanic woman who was found to be taking bribes and was imprisoned. Couldn't someone better have been found? Is this all they had to choose from?

There are many outstanding minorities who do a great job day after day. They should be recognized for the good people that they are. Among them are very good minority reporters.

The New York Times brought this problem on itself. It is a good thing that The Times wants to diversify, but true diversification must begin with a change in philosophy.

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 17 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Bush Admirer Lionel A. Garcia Monday, Jun. 02, 2003 at 4:26 PM
Ummm... Ummm... Monday, Jun. 02, 2003 at 11:51 PM
Sorry Bush Admirer Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 1:56 PM
Public Service Announcemnt psa Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 2:14 PM
Translation of the above post anti-moron Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 2:43 PM
anti-moron the moron psa Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 2:59 PM
Logical Fallacy debate coach Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 3:26 PM
pResident Bush anti-moron Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 3:31 PM
anti-moron the moron psa Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 3:32 PM
Logical Fallacy debate coach Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 3:32 PM
Fuck you. Diogenes Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 4:03 PM
It was me Eric Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 4:07 PM
Yes clever. Diogenes Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 4:11 PM
Thanks Eric Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 4:12 PM
You got a long way to go Diogenes Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 4:27 PM
Dio imp (Eric) anti-moron Wednesday, Jun. 04, 2003 at 4:29 PM

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