Identity Politics and the Sotomayor nomination

Judge Sotomayor's grammar is as suspect as some of her legal analysis. In Spanish nouns are either feminine or masculine.   Latina is a feminine noun in Spanish.   In English, It is only proper to use a foreign feminine noun as a modifier for a gender neutral noun.  Thus one can properly be a Hispanic woman or even the first Latina Justice but to be a Latina woman is merely to be silly in two languages.

One of the minor social problems of identity politics is keeping track of those preferred labels du jour.  Whoever it is that sets these arbitrary and ever shifting standards has decided that Latino/Latina is in and Hispanic out.  Pity the poor liberal who has to always ask are they black this year, or should I call them African American?  Gay or transgendered? The new ABC animated series the Goodes, satirized the liberals' dilemma in its pilot episode (available here).

I've always found both the Hispanic and the Latino label as artificial as going around calling all non Hispanic white people in this nation Europeans. Over the years I have met a great many people who if you asked them to describe themselves as something other than American would used the words Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cubano, Brazilian, Guatemalan, Honduran or Panamanian.  The only people I've ever met who described themselves foremost as Hispanics/Latinos were either left wing political activists out to promote an agenda or part of the politically correct media entertainment culture.    

It is interesting to note that Rasmussen reports support of the Sotomayer nomination has put Obama's approval rating at a two month high.

On Tuesday morning, just before announcing Sotomayor's selection, the President's Approval Index rating had fallen to the lowest level yet recorded, +1. Since then, the President's numbers have improved significantly among Hispanic voters and liberal voters. Hispanic voters strongly favor the confirmation of Sotomayor who is in line to become the first Hispanic Justice.

Among liberal voters, the President may be benefiting from changing the subject. The number of liberal voters who Strongly, rather than Somewhat, approved of his performance slipped during recent discussions concerning the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

And to think some people actually thought that by voting for Obama this nation would be put identity politics behind us.    

Thomas Lifson adds:

Maybe it is because I am an "Anglo" (though I hear my Irish ancestors screaming "No!" as I write these words), but these agglomerated labels drive me nuts. Having spent a good part of my life in Asia, the "Asian/Pacific Islander" category is ludicrous. Try telling Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese folks that they are all the same. And that's just the Northeast Asia nations with a common Confucian heritage. Any grouping that posits Tongans, Fijians, Japanese and Vietnamese have much of anything in common is insane.

Living in Berkeley, I have a lot of exposure to these labels. Almost invariably, people who identify themselves as "Latina" or "Latino" make a big point of pronoucing them with a a Spanish accent. I have never met anyone willing to call him or herself an "Asian/Pacific Islander" as an ethnic identity. The closest I have come is people speaking of their political positions as a member of an oppressed minority. Usually, they are three or more generations American-born, affluent, and looking for street cred as an oppressed person of color.
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