Their coverage of the former chancellor of New York schools was different, but their use of contrived racial conventions is the same.
TUCSON – On February 26, Richard Carranza resigned as the chancellor of New York City schools. His resignation was covered quite differently by two ideologically opposed publications.
The main daily newspaper in Tucson, the left-leaning Arizona Daily Star, ran a glowing news story about Carranza, pointing out his Tucson roots and, for a reason that escapes this grandson of poor Italian immigrants, mentioning that he is the grandson of Mexican immigrants.
The piece was glowing in spite of Carranza snubbing his hometown by saying that he now sees New York as home and will continue to live there.
A different perspective came from City Journal, which is a publication of the conservative Manhattan Institute, based in New York.
The article suggested that Carranza had not been getting along with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. But more germane to the piece, Carranza had angered Asian-American parents who had been calling for his ouster for 18 months.
He had angered them by wanting to do away with an admission test for New York’s most selective public schools, because Asians perform better on the test than Hispanics and blacks and thus are admitted in higher percentages than their percentage in the city’s population.
The parents saw this as racial discrimination and thought it was unfair for Asians to be penalized for working hard at both parenting and employment, especially given that many of them are recent immigrants and poor.
Separately, the libertarian Reason Magazine called Carranza the most divisive pro-equity public official in American for his rants about white privilege and his labeling of opponents as racist.
The Arizona Daily Star didn’t mention any of this controversy, but to repeat, did mention that Carranza is the son of Mexican immigrants as if his heritage was somehow relevant to the news of his resignation. City Journal, by contrast, did not mention his heritage.
An aside: Thankfully, New York media didn’t mention my heritage when they covered me extensively as an activist in the New York/New Jersey region, circa 1990. I would have found it odd if they had brought up the irrelevancy of my immigrant grandparents. (In my grandparents’ day, the New York Times and other publications referred to Italians as swarts and questioned their intelligence and ability to assimilate.)
Although City Journal didn’t mention Carranza’s heritage, it did dive into the racial weeds in its story on the former school chancellor. As with just about all publications in America nowadays, it used the labels of Asian, Hispanic, and White to designate race, although these aren’t races, or for that matter, ethnicities or nationalities. Nor are they monolithic, in spite of the media treating them as such.
American media are obsessed with the contrived racial labels and then wonder why Americans are obsessed with the same superficiality.
The use of the catchall labels left the reader not knowing how the hundreds of ethnocultural groups within each contrived racial category do on the admission test. How do the Han Chinese do versus the Manchu Chinese? East Indians versus Vietnamese? Jews in Brooklyn versus Irish Catholics on Staten Island? Puerto Ricans versus Cubans? Mestizos from Mexico versus Spanish aristocrats from Mexico? Descendants of Yankee blue-bloods versus Scots-Irish from Appalachia? Sicilians versus Lombards?
And so on, through all of the thousands of permutations and combinations.
The social sciences of ethnography and sociology deal in such complexities. By contrast, the anti-science of identity politics, wokeness, and what passes for diversity and inclusion deal in stereotypes and generalizations, such as all whites are privileged, and all non-whites are disadvantaged and victims of institutional racism.
Journalists and other college graduates have especially bought into the anti-science, deluding themselves into thinking that they are educated on the subjects because they’ve taken a handful of social-science courses, or to use an analogy, have studied a few books out of a 12-book set, which in turn is one set out of a 12-set volume, which in turn is one volume out of a 12-volume series.
Chances are, they’re “versed” in critical race theory and intersectionality but haven’t read such classics in sociology as the 1963 book by left-liberal Nathan Glazer and Daniel P. Moynihan: “Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City.” (That would be the same Moynihan who, in 1965, wrote the controversial but prescient, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.”)
Glazer and Moynihan documented in great detail why some ethnic groups assimilated faster than others and fared better in income and education, in the most diverse city in the most diverse nation in the world. Back then, Jews were rising the fastest. Today, it is some Asian groups. But the reasons, including cultural differences, have essentially remained the same and have generated similar resentments and calls for discrimination against the more successful group.
In the preface to the second edition of their book, Glazer and Moynihan foresaw the dangers of today’s racial labels and identity politics. They wrote, “In 1969, we seem to be moving to a new set of categories black and white, and that is ominous.” They were appalled by the increasing use of the colors of Black, Brown, Yellow, and Red to describe different groups and found it to be a “biologically and humanly monstrous naming.” And they foresaw that it would lead to “the oppressed” seeing themselves in opposition to the oppressing whites.
Divisive public officials like Carranza are the result. They are aided and abetted by media on the left and right in their use of contrived and misleading racial labels and their sophomoric understanding of the ethnic history of America.