MILLIONS OF AMERICANS now know that Daniel Hernandez – editor of UC Berkeley’s student newspaper The Daily Californian – has publicly apologized for running an ad opposing reparations for black slavery.
The ad was placed by my boss, ‘60s-radical-turned-conservative-firebrand David Horowitz. It apparently offended some African Americans.
Hernandez says he feels their pain, since he too is a minority.
"As a journalist of color," he writes in the San Francisco Chronicle. "I am acutely aware of the injustices felt by so many disenfranchised communities."
Identity politics are in. Ethnic loyalty rules. In keeping with current fashion, I suppose I should feel torn between Horowitz and Hernandez.
Horowitz, after all, is of Russian-Jewish descent like my father. And Hernandez, like my mother, is Mexican-American.
Yet I feel no conflict at all. And Hernandez’s "journalist of color" routine strikes me as leftwing boilerplate – something memorized from a little red book rather than felt in one’s heart.
Leftists have long claimed that "people of color" are natural allies. Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and other "minorities" are supposedly united in solidarity against the white man.
There was a time in my youth when I briefly flirted with such thinking. But then I grew up. Perhaps young Hernandez will too.
Unfortunately, a recent Fox News poll suggests that the problem goes far beyond Mr. Hernandez.
The poll states that 81 percent of Americans are opposed to paying reparations to blacks.
Yet, according to FoxNews.com, "Blacks and other minority groups are almost four times more likely than whites to support paying reparations."
The crucial phrase is "blacks and other minority groups."
The poll implies that Koreans, Salvadorans, Apaches, Eskimos, Maoris, Pakistanis and other minorities are all four times more likely than whites to support reparations for blacks.
Now that’s solidarity!
But is it true? I wonder.
Only 11 percent of the respondents said yes to reparations. Inasmuch as blacks constitute 12 percent of the U.S. population, that doesn’t leave much room for other minorities in the "yes" category.
A July 2000 Portrait of America survey asked Americans whether they thought the U.S. Congress should apologize for slavery. Fifty-eight percent of non-black minorities said no.
Now here’s a riddle. Why would non-black minorities say no to an apology but yes to reparations?
I asked Opinion Dynamics president John Gorman to help me out. His firm conducted the Fox News poll.
Did "blacks and other minority groups" all poll the same way, I asked? Or did different minorities in the sample feel different ways about reparations?
Mr. Gorman politely declined to provide a breakdown.
"While we could break the various non-white groups into separate categories, the sample sizes would be too small to provide reliability," he explained.
But aren’t we simply trading one unreliable impression for another? By lumping all minorities together, the poll suggests that "people of color" are marching together in ideological lockstep, like starry-eyed campesinos in a Diego Rivera mural.
Mr. Gorman knows that this is inaccurate.
"I agree, based on the research I have seen, that non-African American minority groups differ substantially on this issue – falling somewhere between white and black Americans," he conceded.
If only Mr. Gorman had incorporated this private insight into his polling methodology.
I am certainly no expert on what minorities think.
But I do know one thing. Anyone who wants to collect reparations from my Mexican-American mother had better bring backup, because they’re in for a fight.
Mama doesn’t take kindly to the "gimme, gimme" mentality.
"When I was growing up," she says, "my whole family and everyone I knew who was Hispanic was raised with the idea that you stand on your own feet. During the Depression, when people were hungry, the worst thing you could do was go on welfare. It was a disgrace. You would do anything to keep from asking someone for a handout.
"That’s been my philosophy and my upbringing and as a Hispanic this is very much what I believe."
During her later working years, my mother was offered a chance to exploit her "minority" status for advancement. She turned it down flat.
If there is a division in this country, it is not between "minorities" and "non-minorities." It is between those who want to produce and those who would rather just consume.
Both groups come in all shapes, sizes and colors. It’s too bad that Fox News and Opinion Dynamics chose to obscure this point. And it’s too bad that young Daniel Hernandez, for all his talent and promise, has failed to grasp it.