Erik Wemple stretched credulity to the breaking point not long ago trying to dismiss the right noticing how George Zimmerman’s ethnicity was described.
Q.E.D.: Use of the term in the New York Times archives is rare. Phil Corbett, the paper’s standards editor, concedes that “white Hispanic” and ”white and Hispanic” are “not very commonly used.” That said, Corbett notes:
Our guidelines say we mention race or ethnicity if and only if it’s pertinent to the story. Given that this is being investigated as a possible civil-rights case and has stirred protests in part because of concerns about racial elements, it seems clear that race and ethnicity are pertinent, for both people involved.
Yet determining how to describe Zimmerman requires some thinking. “There are no absolute, clear-cut rules on this,” writes Corbett via e-mail. “People often treat white, black and Hispanic as three parallel categories, but it’s not always that simple. As you know, Hispanic people can be different races. As I understand it, Zimmerman’s father is a non-Hispanic white, and his mother is a Peruvian immigrant.”
“White Hispanic” and other such terms, relates Corbett, didn’t work too well. “Some readers seemed to find them distracting or confusing, or to wonder whether we were trying to make some larger point (we weren’t). Eventually we decided that simply calling him Hispanic was probably clear enough, especially since by now most readers are familiar with him and the case. So that’s what we’ve mostly been doing.”
And PBS did refer to Zimmerman as “white.”
On Monday night’s PBS Newshour, anchor Gwen Ifill mangled the Trayvon Martin story by describing the shooter, George Zimmerman, as simply “white,” when he has a white father and a Latino mother. By that one-white-parent standard, you could call President Obama “white.”
Ifill announced “Martin, who was black, was on his way to a convenience store in a mostly white gated community when George Zimmerman, who is white, shot and killed him after a disputed altercation.” Martin was painted as “carrying only candy and a soft drink” and “was discovered by police lying face down in the grass.”
There are two more examples of more recent note. The first comes from our friends at Politico via Rhymes with Right
Texas could be the backdrop for a future Bush family restoration; Republicans here are already talking up 36-year-old George P. Bush, the half-Hispanic son of Jeb Bush, who has raised $1.3 million for a 2014 run for some statewide office to be named later.
Of course Politico would never refer to Obama as “half-black”. Neither has any other mainstream media outlet that I know of. And you know what would happen if a conservative media outlet referred to Obama as “half-black” — or even “half-African – there would be complaints about “birtherism” and cries of “racism” from all the usual suspects. Heck, calling attention to Obama’s white mother in anything but the most hagiographic of ways is utterly verboten — but it is OK to note that a conservative is only “half-Hispanic”.
And now Ted Cruz takes racist jabs for the team. From John Nolte at Breitbart
Apparently, the Washington Post and New York Times don’t like the idea of a non-white U.S. Senator acting all uppity. It’s fine for the lily-white Elizabeth Warren to immediately come out guns blazing, but over the past couple of days both news outlets ripped into in Texas Senator Ted Cruz for not knowing his place.
As we all know, the base of the Democratic Party is made up of union workers who see Hispanics as a threat to their jobs and rich, white, coastal liberals whose only contact with the Latino community is on grass-mowing day. And so, in what can only be interpreted as a racially-coded dog-whistle attack designed to appeal to the worst instincts of the Democratic base, the Post and Times have come together hoping to put an Hispanic back “in his place.”
New York Times:
In just two months, Mr. Cruz, 42, has made his presence felt in an institution where new arrivals are usually not heard from for months, if not years. Besides suggesting that Mr. Hagel might have received compensation from foreign enemies, he has tangled with the mayor of Chicago, challenged the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat on national television, voted against virtually everything before him — including the confirmation of John Kerry as secretary of state — and raised the hackles of colleagues from both parties.
The traditional stance for a freshman senator is to hold back a bit. Being reticent and deferential are not qualities that come naturally to those who manage to win Senate seats, but most new senators choose, as much as it clashes with their instincts, to tamp down.
Anyone remember Hillary Clinton or Chuck Schumer as freshman senate wallflowers? Anyone remember the Times and Post coordinating to shut those two white senators up?
Yeah, me neither.
What we have here are two predominantly white news outlets made uncomfortable by someone who doesn’t look like them acting all uppity. I had hoped we were past such things, but apparently not.
Hey, these are the media’s rules, not mine.