pageok
pageok
pageok
Justice Cardozo as "Hispanic" or "Latino":

The discussion prompts me to reprise a couple of items I posted in the very first month of this blog on the subject:

1. Note Justice Cardozo's Hispanic surname, a traditional way of testing Hispanic status; actually, I think the name is Portuguese, but if it's good enough for the U.S. government, it's good enough for me: Title 49, section 26.5 of the Code of Federal Regulations (the definition that's used in the contracting race preference programs administered by the Department of Transportation) defines "Hispanic Americans" as

persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race.

There's no doubt, to my knowledge, that Cardozo was indeed of Spanish or Portuguese origin; in fact, a recent biography describes the shaping experiences of Cardozo;s youth as including participation in a leading Spanish-Portuguese cultural organization. True, his family probably left the Iberian Peninsula over 350 years before his birth, but that's true of many Hispanics as well. And he likely had no American Indian blood, but that's true of many Hispanics, too.

At the same time, I can certainly understand both why many Hispanics would be enthusiastic about having a Hispanic appointed to the Court, and why they wouldn't count Cardozo as one of them: Ethnicity tends to be defined in practice by felt cultural bonds, and not by Code of Federal Regulations definitions.

2. My friend Tom Waldman asked whether Cardozo might not qualify as Latino (as opposed to Ladino, I take it).

But that presupposes a definition of Latino that's different from Hispanic, and that would exclude Cardozo; I don't think there really is that settled a definition. I could find no such definition in the Code of Federal Regulations. The closest I could find is a definition of "Hispanic or Latino" in 45 CFR 1355 app. A, which likewise turns on whether a person "is of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American origin, or a person of other Spanish cultural origin regardless of race" — this might exclude Cardozo because I suspect he's of Portuguese cultural origin, but that would be a really funny way of defining Latino. After all, the Portuguese might be seen as not Hispanic, but surely they're just as Latino as the Spaniards. (UPDATE: Justin Miller points out: "Brazilians mostly speak Portuguese (the country was Portugal's main South American colony) and it's easily the most-populated country in South America. It would be hard then to neglect Brazilians' status as Latinos. If Brazilians are counted as Latinos, why not then those from Portugal itself? Language seems to be a central tenant of identifying Latino ethnicity and I think this simple case makes it pretty clear Cardozo was the first Latino justice.")

My New Shorter Oxford does define Latino as "A Latin American inhabitant of the United States," which would indeed exclude Cardozo — but would equally exclude all Americans of merely Spanish, as opposed to Latin American, extraction. This might be a sensible definition, but it's not the one in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Though, wait! What about Antonin Scalia, a Justice some of whose ancestors might have actually come from Latium itself? Yes, I know, etymology doesn't equal meaning; but it's still fun to play with this.

3. So the bottom line: There's no doubt that many Hispanics might see Judge Sotomayor as one of them in a way that they don't see Justice Cardozo as one of them. There's nothing "incorrect" about that; it's a matter of felt shared identity, which is defined by actual practices and not by scientific or often even legal definitions. But if one does look at legal attempts to try to capture Hispanic identity as a legal category, Justice Cardozo might well have qualified (which may say more about the weakness of such legal attempts than about anything else).

Richard A. (mail):
One of the more comic aspects of this sort of thing is that the federal definition and many state definitions define the Portuguese as a protected minority while we Irish-Americans are considered firmly in the majority. The reason this is funny is that at the time these codes were written Ireland was, and stil theoretically is, a country colonized by a major imperial power while Portugal was a major imperial power until very recently. It still had a colony in China until 1999.

So the Portuguese and the Spanish are actually rewarded under our affirmative action law for having colonized so much of the world.
5.26.2009 2:24pm
rick.felt:
One of the more comic aspects of this sort of thing is that the federal definition and many state definitions define the Portuguese as a protected minority while we Irish-Americans are considered firmly in the majority.

Not only that, but Latin Americans call you Irish "Anglo," which is pretty insulting to any proud Irishman. But you're white, so who cares if you're offended?
5.26.2009 2:31pm
mariner:
Let's be honest about this.

There are two big reasons Cardozo was not the first Hispanic justice:

1. Cardozo was a Jew.
2. If Cardozo were the first Hispanic justice, that would dispel the fierce moral urgency of confirming Sotomayor as the "first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice".

OT but I note that Cardozo was a real-life Horatio Alger story.
5.26.2009 2:38pm
Constantin:
Mariner, note that some (this includes Orin Hatch) are referring to her as the "first nominee of Puerto Rican descent" in order to avoid this question, but to still get points from the grievance industry for the required fierce moral urgency.

On a broader note, I am completely tired of hearing about the "personal journey" of politicians and judges. This goes for everybody. As Bill Kristol wrote of Obama's (by now routine) narcissistic self-reference in Thursday's Gitmo speech, Who Cares?
5.26.2009 2:51pm
donaldk2 (mail):
I don''t see any connection between Sotomayor and Cardozo.

Cardozo was not Latino in any meaningful respect. It would be a mere coincidence were he even fluent in Spanish. He came from an entirely different milieu: Sephardic Jews who constituted an aristocracy among Jews, and immigrated to pre-Revolutionary America.

To connect this legacy to that of Judge Satomayor is ludicrous.
5.26.2009 2:52pm
Dave N (mail):
donaldk2,

I find much of the discussion ludicrous. Putting aside Justice Cardozo, how about, say, Judge Carlos Bea of the 9th Circuit?

Judge Bea was born in Spain and emigrated with his family to Cuba, where he was an Olympic athlete. His family was wealthy enough to send him to Stanford University for both his undergraduate education and his law degree--and he formally emigrated to the United States in 1959.

I suspect Judge Bea came from an entirely different milieu as well. Is he Hispanic? Latino? Frankly, I don't know and I don't particularly care. I find this kind of identity politics stupid, anyway.
5.26.2009 3:02pm
rick.felt:
As Bill Kristol wrote of Obama's (by now routine) narcissistic self-reference in Thursday's Gitmo speech, Who Cares?

"Who cares?" indeed. Obama's self-reference is part of his standard speechifying:

(1) Thinly-veiled (or not) swipe at Bush;

(2) Obamalocks and the Three Positions: ("There are some who say this porridge is too hot. Others say it is too cold. I reject the false choice between porridge that is too hot and porridge that is too cold, and say that this porridge is juuuuuust right.")

(3) "I'm black, and my dad was a Muslim. Isn't my life story grand? If you disagree with me, you're against diversity."
5.26.2009 3:04pm
Constantin:
Cardozo was not Latino in any meaningful respect. It would be a mere coincidence were he even fluent in Spanish. He came from an entirely different milieu: Sephardic Jews who constituted an aristocracy among Jews, and immigrated to pre-Revolutionary America.

Wait. Alex Rodriguez's kids will be staggeringly rich, second-generation Americans who likely won't be fluent in Spanish. Latino or not?

Or do we rid ourselves of the charade, cut to the chase, and just proclaim that you're not really "Latino" (or Hispanic, or black, or gay, or a woman) unless you vote Democrat?
5.26.2009 3:12pm
Jam:
And how many "latinos" can dance salsa on the head of a pin?

My last name is Purcell.
Both family lines follow, unbroken, to Spain.
It comes from southern Spain.
It is considered Irish.
The first written reference to the family name is referencing a grand-son of Chalesmagne - a Norman.
My mother's father's mother was Danish.
I am 5th generation Puerto Rican.

I live in Texas because to live in Puerto Rico is to live in a northeastern liberal paradise.

I am so confused. :O

Well ... not really.
5.26.2009 3:30pm
Arturito:

this might exclude Cardozo because I suspect he's of Portuguese cultural origin, but that would be a really funny way of defining Latino. After all, the Portuguese might be seen as not Hispanic, but surely they're just as Latino as the Spaniards.

That does not hold water, since if you include Portuguese exclusively based on this criterion then you surely should include Italians, French, many Swiss, even Rumanians and many others.

People from the Italian region of Lazio (Latium in Latin), of course would have top claim to the name (as in fact they do in many other contexts). The residents of of the town of Latina in the Latina province of the Lazio region would have triple dips, I suppose.

If we are going to delve into why people in Hispanic and Portuguese Americas started to call themselves "latinoamericanos" I would submit that an important factor was the desire to include Italians (The most common European national origin in the area after Spain and Portugal -- They comprise close to 50% of the population of Argentina, for example) in the description of the area. "Latinoamérica" was a more "inclusive" term than "Hispanoamérica" or "Iberoamérica."

Notice that nowhere in that inclusivity there is any nativist trace; the people that came up with that name did not care about including Aztecs, Toltecs, Incas, Mayas or any other indigenous-Americans. Many people perceive that the term "Latino" is more indigenist and less white than the term "Hispanic," and therefore more PC.

That's fine, of course. Etymology is not destiny, so Latino it is until they come up with a "better" term.
5.26.2009 3:31pm
BZ (mail):
The Census Bureau has long used Hispanic surnames to determine ethnic identity. See, e.g., surnames.

This has legal consequences in matters such as the Voting Rights Act, where surname is deemed an acceptable proxy for linguistic ability.
5.26.2009 3:31pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
Its an odd subject: affinity to a larger language group (is it language? its not hue or country or shared experience, since "Hispanic" is larger than those). Do any of the Russian writers here take pride in, and give allegience to Reagan for his appoitment of, the Slav Alex Kozinski?

I have no Slav pride at all, just my corner of it, because, among other reasons, there's been too much butchery. I'd expect that to be universal: does a mestiço really feel pride in Justice Cardozo (would a Congolese)? Does a mestizo (or Filipino) love Pau Gasol because he's Spanish?

Do people who agree that its important to pander to such categories think about this and have answers? I give it so little thought, but am now curious.
5.26.2009 3:40pm
Jam:
... persons of South Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia or Southern American, or other Arcadian or Celtic culture or origin, regardless of race.

Yeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (rebel yell)

Are we (I adopted the South as my homeland) now an ethnic group?
5.26.2009 4:14pm
prosa123 (mail) (www):
Hispanic (and Latino) is a de facto racial category even if described in language or national-origin terms. When you hear someone described as "Hispanic," whether consciously or not you think of a person who is a visible minority, to use a useful Canadian expression. Most Hispanics in the United States are of at least part Amerindian descent, with many of the others being partly African.

With regards to the Cardozo vs. Sotomayor "first Hispanic" issue, I've looked at pictures of Cardozo and cannot see anything remotely nonwhite-looking about him. While Sotomayor herself seems mostly of white ancestry, there is enough of something else in her background to make her a visible minority, though only marginally so.
5.26.2009 4:33pm
Richard A. (mail):
rick.felt: I agree. As an Irish-American, I've always been insulted by being called an "Anglo" when in California. I've always taken it as evidence of the tone-deafness of West Coasters on ethnic issues.

And as far as I can determine, "Anglos" is actually a term of Mexican origin for white people. In that case, just call me a gringo. I really am a gringo. I'm not an Anglo.
5.26.2009 4:44pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Who was it who said (something along the lines of), “the term ‘Latin’ [as a modern ethnic term] was invented by the French, so as to include themselves”?
5.26.2009 5:15pm
neurodoc:
prosa123: With regards to the Cardozo vs. Sotomayor "first Hispanic" issue, I've looked at pictures of Cardozo and cannot see anything remotely nonwhite-looking about him.
"Hispanic" is an appearance or racial thing, that is "non-white"?

mariner: There are two big reasons Cardozo was not the first Hispanic justice:
1. Cardozo was a Jew.
Yes, a major piece of this is self-identity. For most living in the United States, I think, "Jewish" is a bigger, more consequential part of their identity than any "Hispanic" piece, unless perhaps that piece is what makes them Sephardi Jews. And Hispanics are not likely to claim as Hispanic anyone with remote/tenuous ancestral links, especially if they do not identify themselves as Hispanic.

30 or so years ago, an employee of Montgomery County, Maryland created something of a stir by legally changing his name to a Hispanic one (Leon, I think) in order to claim some advantage, though he had no Hispanic roots. The county quickly came up with new criteria for "Hispanic," which did not look to surname. Just underscored the problems with these classifications for purposes of conferring benefits.
5.26.2009 5:24pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
It's fine to be tired of the personal stories, but let's be consistent. Conservatives use personal stories all the time to justify the arguments of people who are generally OPPOSED to policies to directly help the poor and minorities. That's why Clarence Thomas' (genuinely inspiring, by the way) upbringing is brought up all the time.

So if we aren't going to focus on personal stories, then both sides need to follow that. But it can't be legitimate for conservatives to emphasize the hardscrabble backgrounds of their nominees while if liberals emphasize the same things it becomes some sort of product of political correctness and the racial grievance industry.
5.26.2009 6:32pm
dearieme:
So, in summary: Cardozo is not Hispanic because he could reasonably have expected to do well in life without being granted some sort of racial privilege?
5.26.2009 6:39pm
Lou Gots (mail):
I am certainly glad that this thread had a tougue-in-cheek air about it, for if it were a serious discussion it would be shameful and disgusting. For that is where the whole business of quota-mongering takes us--to one un-American wrechedness after another. To begin with, we are creating something very much like a patent of nobility, that is, an office conferred by some virtue of birth and not of merit.

Then it gets even more sordid. Since we are granting this hereditary office, now we must befoul ourselves with the the slime of Rassenwissenschaft--Race "Science." How many Jewish grandmothers is one allowed to have and still be an "Aryan?" How many Portuguese grandmothers make a "Latino?."
5.26.2009 9:22pm
ANDKEN (mail) (www):
Errr, since I´m a Brazilian I do speak Portuguese. No, Portuguese aren´t Hispanic in any sense(Note that most Brazilian and Portuguese colonies in the US are separated from the colonies of Hispanics). In fact, a Portuguese would kill you if you say that to him.

Yes, it´s true that people of all ancestries in Latin America are called Latinos, but that´s because of the geography and due to the fact that most of these countries were subjected to the same colonization model(Note that racial miscegenation is a popular concept, both in Mexico and in Brazil). In fact, many people in Brazil doesn´t like to call themselves "latino". There is also the fact that Portuguese is a Latin Language.

By the way, the Portuguese Language has more similarities with the Italian Language than with the Spanish Language. And yes, I know several people with Italians names, President Lula of Brazil is married to a woman that has Italian citizenship. Scalia and Alito are more Hispanic than Cardozo.
5.26.2009 10:39pm
Julian Fernandez (mail):
My family emigrated to the U.S. from the northwest of Spain in the middle of the 19th century. I have always considered myself to be of Hispanic origin.

I don't agree that Justice Cardozo would not similarly be considered Hispanic. His surname is common in western Spain and Portugal. His avowed agnosticism did not prevent his acknowledgement and celebration of his Jewish ancestry. The distance traveled by his ancestors from Spain does not negate the fact that there is where the earliest records of his family exist.

I think that some people in this country hold the misconception that Caucasian and Hispanic are mutually exclusive. Green eyes and blond hair don't go with names that end in vowels or "ez". I don't write this as an accusation. It's just a conclusion that I've reached over a lifetime of experience.
5.26.2009 11:38pm
Jam:
Richard A.: Anglo-Saxons are germanic, Irish are Celtic. Not the same.Dang can't government fix this mix up?

Where did the idea first come up to classify people by ethnicity?

In all seriousness, I like discussions of ethnic origins just as well as etymology. It is a way to study history.

Sing the song Green Grow the Lilacs lots of time and you find why the Mexicans call the people of these uSA Gringos. You Irish are everywhere. ;)

Green Grow the Lilacs

Green grows the lilac that sparkles with dew
I'm lonely my darling, since parting from you
By th next mornin' I hope you prove true
An' change th green lilac for th red, white an' blue

I once't had a sweetheart but now I have none
Since you've gone an' left me I care not for none
Since you left me, contented I'll be
For she loves another one better then me

I passed by her window, early an' late
Th look that she gives me would make your heart break
The look that she give you was painful to see
For she loved another one, better, better then me

I wrote my love a letter in red rosy line
She wrote me an answer all twisted an' twined
She says, keep your love letters an' I'll keep mine
You write to your sweetheart an' I'll write to mine
5.27.2009 8:23am
Jam:
Since all the people in the Americas () are Americans, are we all in the New World not a ethnic group too?
5.27.2009 8:26am
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Errr, since I´m a Brazilian I do speak Portuguese. No, Portuguese aren´t Hispanic in any sense(Note that most Brazilian and Portuguese colonies in the US are separated from the colonies of Hispanics). In fact, a Portuguese would kill you if you say that to him.

Merriam-Webster's dictionary:
His.pan.ic adj [L hispanicus, fr. Hispania Iberian Peninsula, Spain] (ca. 1889): of, relating to, or being a person of Latin American descent living in the U.S.; esp: one of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin

Notice that the derivation of Hispanic comes not from “Spain” but from the Latin term for the Iberian peninsula. Last I heard, Portugal is on the Iberian peninsula. Moreover, as has been pointed out before on this thread, Portuguese-speaking Brazil is certainly “Latin American.”
5.27.2009 12:31pm

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.