What blight has fallen on Hispanic kids that keeps too many of them from succeeding?

Hispanic gardenersHere in Marin, children grow up in very politically correct homes.  It would be the rare household in which kids here racist comments from their parents.  Also, here in Marin, kids grow up with Hispanic housekeepers and gardeners, most of whom have an incredible work ethic.  They show up, and they work long, well, and hard.  They are admirable.

But here’s something funny:  I listen to the kids, and what I pick up from them is that, at their public schools, the Hispanic kids are seen as second class.  This isn’t because they’re Hispanic, it’s because they have two qualities the kids in my community disdain:  they’re disproportionately represented amongst the academically lazy and stoner kids.

Think about how peculiar this is:  In the 20th century, most of America’s middle class came, not from the immigrants, but from the immigrants’ children.  The children were born into the migrant slums and saw their parents working like dogs just to get back.  To get out of that poverty and to relieve their parents terrible burden, these children studied hard, if they had access to education, and worked like dogs to raise themselves out of the ghettos.  That held true for Irish, Russians, Italians, Asians, old-time Hispanics, etc.

But something toxic apparently happened to too many in this current generation of Hispanic children.  They live in lousy neighborhoods, their parents and older, Latin-American-born siblings have a superior work ethic and, between wanting to escape the former and being able to emulate the latter, they should be precisely like those Asian “model minorities.”  But the opposite is true.  Too many of them have neither ambition nor discipline.

Any theories?  This is not a race issue.  This is a generational thing, with the children being the mirror image of what immigrant children used to be.

Thomas Sowell on the fact that black and Hispanic leaders betray young people by preaching hopelessness

I do believe that this is one of Sowell’s best articles ever.  It’s a very simple one, really, as his articles so often are.  This one looks at the way black and Hispanic leaders have sown hopelessness amongst the young they claim to lead and definitely influence.  It made me quite sad to read it:

Some people try to explain why Asians [non-English speaking immigrants], and Asian-Americans, succeed so well in education and in the economy by some special characteristics that they have.

That may be true, but their success may also be due to what they do not have — namely “leaders” who tell them that the deck is so stacked against them that they cannot rise, or at least not without depending on “leaders.”

Saying the unsayable about Hispanics

As is often the case with my brain, I need to mull over things sometimes to decide what I think about them. Such is the case with Jason Richwine, the Heritage Foundation scholar who was driven out when it was discovered that his thesis (which passed inspection at Harvard) reached the following conclusions:

So what is actually in the dissertation? The dissertation shows that recent immigrants score lower than U.S.-born whites on many different types of IQ tests. Using statistical analysis, it suggests that the test-score differential is due primarily to a real cognitive gap rather than to culture or language bias. It analyzes how this cognitive gap could affect socioeconomic assimilation, and it concludes by exploring how IQ selection might be incorporated, as one factor among many, into immigration policy.

I have a few anecdotes plus a theory.

1.  Back in the late 1980s, before political correctness wrapped its smothering embrace around free speech, I ran into old family friends whom I hadn’t seen in years.  They were a Hispanic couple in their 60s, and very wealthy.  What were they doing with themselves since they retired, I asked.  Retired!?  No way.  They had founded an outreach program to work with poor Hispanic families.  Their specific focus was school drop-out rates.  The problem, they told me, was that immigrant Hispanic families resented that their children had to go to school.  They came from an agrarian society and saw only backbreaking labor as the path to survival.  While the news was talking about the gang culture turning Hispanics away from education, this couple told me that the problem was the parents.

2.  In the mid-1980s, one of the girls at my law school informed us that she was the first woman in her family, not only to go to college, but to go on to graduate school  Her Hispanic family was not proud of her, considering that she was a fool for wasting her time instead of getting a clerical job, getting married, and having babies.

3.  In the early 1980s, I met a nice gal at Berkeley.  She considered going to Berkeley a major triumph because her Hispanic family had done everything possible to stop her.  Education, they said, was a waste of time.  With Berkeley, they might have been right, of course, but having the degree alone definitely gave her probably higher life-time earnings than her siblings.

My takeaway:  American Hispanic culture was highly anti-intellectual.  Not everyone, of course, but the majority of immigrant parents worked ferociously hard as physical laborers and saw that as the only way to get ahead.  Education was a time waster. Kids who went to school were not contributing to the family welfare and needed to be made to see that they should work in Dad’s autobody shop or Uncle’s gardening business.  In this way, Hispanic culture was very different from the Jewish and Asian culture surrounding my youth, which was completely focused on educational achievement.

So my thought has always been this one:  If your culture is distinguished by a pervasive anti-intellectualism, will that fact reveal itself in your academic performances and tests?  I’ve always assumed the answer is “yes.”  If you think something is a stupid waste of time, you’ll almost certainly do badly.  I think the IQ test results reflect this fact.  They measure a specific culture — and not a culture of poverty as the Left says, or a culture of pervasive discrimination against Hispanics, as the Left also says, but an agrarian culture that both consciously and unconsciously can’t be bothered.

Put another way, observing an objective trend on IQ tests is not wrong or racist.  It’s a fact.  Richwine makes that point too:

Why did I discuss differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites at all? Because the largest portion of the post-1965 immigration wave has come from Latin America. Studies of Hispanic IQ are naturally useful in estimating overall immigrant IQ and its intergenerational transmission.

That last point bears elaborating: There is absolutely no racial or ethnic agenda in my dissertation. Nothing in it suggests that any groups are “inferior” to any others, nor is there any call to base immigration policy on ethnicity. In fact, I argue for individual IQ selection as a way to identify bright people who do not have access to a university education in their home countries.

We can pretend that nothing is going on, consigning further generations of Hispanic Americans to manual labor, even as Asian or other immigrant groups that value education move ahead of them.  Or we can acknowledge the need to convince legal Hispanic immigrants that, in an information-rich age, the one who cracks the books is the one who gets ahead.

 

King Obama’s executive fiat on illegal immigration — Open Thread

I assume that you all know by know that President Obama has issued an executive order granting amnesty to young illegal immigrants.  It’s a clever move.  Marco Rubio had already proposed something similar, so Obama can say that at least some smart Republicans are already on board with the idea.  The move will presumably cement Hispanic voters to his side, which could be a very big deal in Florida, where some Jewish voters are looking askance at Obama.  Any Republican objections will be touted as Republican racism.

There are some downsides, though.  Congress might get testy at having Obama’s challenge to its authority.  The question is whether Democrats in Congress will be sufficiently testy to challenge their President in an election year.  My guess is that they will not, so the only “nay” voices will come from Republicans — who will then be charged with covert racism that they’re hiding behind a thin procedural screen.  Never mind the Constitution, of course.  Only racists care about that document anyway.

There are two demographics, though, as to which Obama might have been too smart by half:  blacks and unions.  As to both, cheap Hispanic labor is a threat.  In a time of seemingly intractable unemployment, for Obama to pour new competition into the market, rather than to create new jobs, might be a mistake.  I’m sure, though, that the Obama-ites have already examined this problem and concluded that any potential black voter or union hemorrhage is more than offset by increases in Hispanic votes.

I said in the post caption that this is an Open Thread and I meant it.  What’s your take?

What I wish some senator would say to Sotomayor *UPDATED*

The Washington Post is warning Republican senators not to be mean to poor Judge Sotomayor.  It’s a funny (inadvertently funny) article, because the Post editors acknowledge that Obama was anything but gracious when he was a Senator; then they explain why, even though he wasn’t gracious, he was right; and then they urge Republicans to be totally nice to Sotomayor, presumably because Obama is still right.

Of course, the main reason Republicans are being told to be nice is because Sotomayor is a woman and a Hispanic.  If I were a senator, my opening statement, before I began my questions, would be short and sweet:

Welcome, Judge Sotomayor.  Before I begin my questions about your qualifications and your understanding of a Supreme Court justice’s role, I’d like to address one thing.  My questioning will be rigorous.  I will not offend you, and every woman and Hispanic in America, by acting as if either your sex or your ethnic identity have rendered you incapable of standing up to the same brisk scrutiny as any other judicial candidate who has appeared before this body.

Mine is a constitutional role and I take it very seriously.  The Supreme Court is the court of last appeal in this land, and it is the court that it is responsible for ensuring that the laws of this land comport with the Constitution.  I would therefore be remiss in my duty, and insulting to you, if I treated you as a lesser being by denying you the opportunity fully to explain your views.

UPDATE: More on the race issue.  After you’ve what Tom Elia has at his blog, come back and tell me if Jesse Washington’s comments make any sense at all.

Reaching new demographics

One of the things that this election most vividly illustrated is that the lockstep political beliefs Democrats envision don’t really exist within their own party:  Blacks and Hispanics turned out in droves to help power Obama into the White House, but they were the same demographic that, in California, helped Proposition 8 (the anti-gay marriage Constitutional amendment) win.  In other words, while they loved the idea of a minority president, Blacks and Hispanics proved that they are still social conservatives.

We know that’s true in one other major area, too.  Blacks and Hispanics do not have the love affair with abortion that white liberals do.  Again, they are more conservative.

Blacks and Hispanics are also the ones who should be most interested in a fluid capitalist system.  America’s history shows that, absent specific discriminatory laws, American-style capitalism has consistently allowed new immigrants to ascend to the working and middle class within one or two generations — and that was true despite strong social discrimination.  (“No Irish need apply.”  “Jews not welcome.”)  In a fluid system, Irish and Jews and all other immigrant groups simply made their own success and then had the other groups eventually begging to join in.

Likewise, we know from the miserably failed Great Society experiment that a welfare state destroys blacks, as well as other minority and immigrant groups that buy into it.  It’s a true opiate, keeping them in a poverty stricken haze supported by small checks.  It saps ambition and initiative.  It’s like cocaine — a cheap high with the first hit/check, followed by dependence and degradation.

The problem for conservatives isn’t that we don’t have a good message for Hispanics and Blacks.  It’s that they won’t listen to us. Everything conservatives say is deflected, twisted and denied.  Point out that blacks make greater strides in the Bush administration than they did in the Clinton administration, and you’re told that those blacks weren’t real blacks, they were just Uncle Toms.  Point out that blacks made economic gains after welfare reform, and you’re told that systemic racism is still destroying them.  Point out that black on black crime, or Hispanic on Hispanic crime, is a scourge, and can best be dealt with by a strong police presence in ailing communities, and you’re told that you’re racist for trying to sic the cops on minorities.

We have so many good messages to give to minorities, but they refuse to hear them.

Funnily enough, C.S. Lewis best described the frustration conservatives feel when trying to communicate to minorities the benefits the conservative political system has for them. As you may know, The Last Battle, which is the last book in the Narnia series, envisions a Narnian Armageddon.  During the eponymous last battle, which pitches the forces of good and evil against each other, the dwarfs peel off and form their own coalition:  “The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.”

For many Narnians during this last battle, death comes to them when they are pitched through the door of a dark, dank stable.  When the good characters are pitched through that door, they find themselves in a rich, beautiful pastoral environment.  The dwarfs, however, when pitched through that door find, not the fires of hell, but simply a dark, dank stable — and nothing anyone does can convince them otherwise:

They [the Dwarfs] had a very odd look.  They weren’t strolling about or enjoying themselves (although the cords with which they had been tied seemed to have vanished) nor were they lying down and having a rest.  They were sitting very close together in a little circle facing one another.  They never looked round or took anynotice of the humans till Lucy and Tirian were almost near enough to touch them.  Then the Dwarfs all cocked their heads as if they couldn’t see anyone but were listening hard and trying to guess by the sound what was happening.

“Look out!” said one of them in a surly voice.  “Mind whwere you’re going.  Don’t walk into our faces!”

“All right!”  said Eustace indignantly.  “We’re not blind.  We’ve got eyes in our heads.”

“They must be darn good ones if you can see in here,” said the same Dwarf whose name was Diggle.

“In where?” asked Edmund.

“Why you bone-head, in here fo course,” said Diggle.  “In this pitch-black, poky, smelly little hole of a stable.”

“Are you all blind?” said Tirian.

“Ain’t we all blind in the dark!” said Diggle.

“But it isn’t dark, you poor stupid Dwarfs,” said Lucy.  “Can’t you see the sky and the trees and the flowers?  Can’t you see me?”

“How in the name of all Humbug can I see what ain’t there?  Andhow can I see you any more than you can see me in this pitch darkness?”

“But I can see you,” said Lucy.  “I’ll prove I can see you.  You’ve got a pipe in your mouth.”

“Anyone that knows the smell of baccy could tell that,” said Diggle.

“Oh the poor things!  This is dreadful,” said Lucy.  Then she had an idea.  She stopped and picked some wild violets.  “Listen, Dwarf,” she said.  “Even if your eyes are wrong, perhaps your nose is all right:  can you smell that?”  She leaned acorss and held the fresh, damp flowers to Diggle’s ugly nose.  But she had to jump back quickly in order to avoid a blow from his hard little fist.

“None of that!” he shouted.  “How dare you!  What do you mean by shoving a lot of filthy stable-litter in my face?  There was a thistle in it too.  It’s like your sauce!  And who are you, anyway?”

And so it goes as the good characters try desperately to make the Dwarfs realize that they are surrounded by beauty and plenty, while the Dwarfs can see only darkness and despair.  That scene so strongly reminds me of the way in which communications between the two groups are stymied by preconceived notions and prejudice, not about race, but about ideas.

The big challenge in the next few years is to shape conservative communications so that they break through these barriers, and show Blacks and Hispanics that they’re not living in a dank, poverty-stricken Marxist stable, but in a large, bountiful America, in which middle Americans share their conservative social values, and want them to share the nation’s capitalist bounty.