For example, in 2010 (shortly before the election in which the Republicans took back the House of Representatives) Janet Murguia wrote
"Rather than trying to win hearts and minds, Republicans have chosen to scapegoat the Latino community in hopes of energizing their base.
The real question is whether the GOP realizes the cost of its actions. The party is mortgaging its future. The Republicans’ tunnel-vision focus on 2010 could be flirting with permanent minority status."[Janet Murguía on “GOP flirting with Disaster on Latinos”, Latinovations.com, August 12, 2010]
But a simple question is seldom asked: do these self-proclaimed prophets actually have many disciples? Or, are they less leaders than phone numbers in reporters’ electronic rolodexes?—speed-dial Solons always ready with a self-serving quick quote?
As it happens, a recent survey by the Pew Hispanic Center of 1,375 Latino adults (National Latino Leader? The Job Is Open (PDF)] by Paul Taylor and Mark Hugo Lopez) sheds some amusing light on this interesting question.
Let me pause here to pay tribute to the Pew Hispanic Center, the think tank funded by the liberal Pew Charitable Trusts. It sponsors some of the better surveys done these days. When read with a gimlet eye, its research often undermines the MSM stereotypes. Granted, Pew write-ups tend to be a little bland. But at least it asks a surprising number of potentially embarrassing questions.
This topic of Hispanic leadership was an obvious minefield, but Pew went ahead with its study. Good for Pew.
The standard MSM approach: assume Latinos are the new blacks. Therefore, because blacks have an abundance of prominent and powerful leaders, so must Latinos.
Except they don’t.
In the Pew survey, done in late summer 2010, random Hispanics were first asked an unprompted question: “In your opinion, who is the most important Hispanic / Latino leader in the country today?”
The landslide winner: “Don’t know”, with 64 percent.
The runner-up: “No one”, with ten percent
In third place: recently-appointed Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, with seven percent. Then came the Congressional spokesman for amnesty, Luis Gutierrez, down at five percent; Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at three percent; and Univision news anchorman Jorge Ramos at two.
Nobody other than this Feeble Four broke the one percent barrier.
To put this in perspective, consider a 2006 AOL / AP Black Voices poll of 600 African-Americans. When asked who is “the most important black leader”, blacks came up with a broad range of well-known figures. Only 21 percent said“not sure” and only 13 percent “no one”.
The also-rans included Black Muslim honcho Louis Farrakhan at four, Oprah Winfrey at three, the late Martin Luther King at three, and Al Sharpton at two. Because African-Americans are not necessarily lacking in self-esteem, “A few in the poll, 1 percent, named themselves”.
Looking at the black data makes clear that there’s an inherent an ambiguity in the wording of these “Who is the most important black [or Hispanic/Latino] leader?” questions. Some, such as those who cited Republican Secretaries of State or Oprah appear to have answered the question as if it read: “Who is the most important leader who is black?”But those who named Jackson, Farrakhan, or Sharpton seemed to be responding as if the question were “Who is the most important leader of blacks?” (Into which camp then-Senator Obama was seen as falling wasambiguous—which might be why he’s now President.)
It’s even less clear how Hispanics understood this question, since so few came up with a name, and the names they came up with could be classified either way. Sotomayor has an important job on the Supreme Court, but she seems to see herself as simultaneously a “wise Latina” ethnic activist.)
Whatever else you can say about the black list, you’ve definitely heard of every name on it (except for the random egomaniacs who responded “Me”). In fact, you’ve probably seen comedians do impressions of most of them.
In contrast, the 2010 Pew Hispanic Center survey was compelled to ask about a less charismatic cast of possible leaders. After the unprompted question about who was the most important Hispanic leader, the pollsters read off the names of eight theoretical leaders: Sotomayor, Gutierrez, Villaraigosa, and Ramos, plus the octogenarian Dolores Huerta, who cofounded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez back in the 1962; Bill Richardson, the formergovernor of New Mexico and cabinet secretary; Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) a liberal Congressman who called for a boycott of his own state over SB 1070;and Janet Murguía, [email her] head of the National Council of La Raza.
They were then asked if they had heard of each one.
The names of only two of the eight, Sotomayor and Ramos, were familiar to a majority of Hispanics. (See the leftmost column of percentages in the table below.) If you can’t recall having heard of Grijalva or Murguía before, don’t feel too bad: barely any of the people they claim to lead had heard of them, either.[VDARE.com note: Putting it another way, our readers know more about Grijalva and Murguía than either their putative followers, or the MSM functionaries who call them for quotes.]
Then, if the respondents were familiar with the name of a putative leader, the pollsters asked whether they consider this person “a leader in the country today?” (That’s the middle column of percentages below.) Please note that isn’t exactly a question about whether the respondent is a follower of that leader, it’s merely a question of whether that person is a leader.
Perhaps showing the lack of popularity of his calls for a boycott of Arizona over SB 1070, Rep. Grijalva did particularly badly on this question: Only 36 percent of those who had heard of him designated him a leader.
The Pew people then multiplied the two columns together to get the percentage of all Hispanics who say the “leader” is a leader (the last column).
Nobody got a majority. Let me quote the Pew report: “Most Latinos [are]unable to name anyone they consider a national leader”.
Sotomayor led with 45 percent of Hispanics saying she is a leader, while Murguía came in last with only one out of 25 members of her purported razasaying the La Raza boss is a leader. In other words, 96 percent of the people she claims to lead don’t think she’s a leader.
Four percent is really bad. That’s barely above the survey’s statistical margin of error of 3.3 percent. It’s almost possible that virtually nobody sees Ms. Murguía as a leader.
But that doesn’t discourage the MSM from turning to Murguía for quotes.
That’s probably because, when an MSM journalist is assigned to write an article on the political implications of the Latino Tidal Wave, he goes and looks up who the other journalists have quoted. He sees Janet Murguía’s name and calls her office for a quote. It’s her job to supply quotes.
Of course, she never has much to say that’s interesting. But no reporter ever got fired for writing a story on the political implications of immigration that included a quote from Janet Murguía.
I found 131 recent results for her on Google News, such as:
High Stakes For Latinos In Debt Talks NPR - 4 days ago We wanted to talk more about that, so we've called upon Janet Murguia. She is the president of the National Council of La Raza. And she was kind enough to ...
Obama Needs to Woo Hispanics, La Raza Chief Says Fox News - Jul 12, 2011 ... because he has not kept his promise of immigration reform, the leader of the National Council of La Raza, Janet Murguia, said Tuesday. ...
Okay, those articles look boring and lame. But, boring and lame articles are the foundation stones of conventional wisdom. The stories that everybody skims because they’ve heard it all before are the ones that go unquestioned.
So Murguía’s renown, such as it is, is circular. The press quotes her a lot because she gets quoted a lot in the press. It’s like that 1995 episode of Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head in which Beavis is puzzled by why MTV is showing a dull music video by Tom Petty (who was a big rock star in the 1979, before Beavis was born):
Beavis: Hey Butt-head, how come Tom Petty is famous? Butt-Head: Because he's on TV … Beavis: Yeah, but like... but how did he get on TV? Butt-Head: Uh ... because he's famous. Beavis: Yeah, but, I mean, like, how did he get famous? Butt-Head: He got famous because he's on TV. Beavis: YEAH, YEAH, BUT HOW DID HE GET ON TV? Butt-Head: Because he's famous, Beavis! Now shut up before I smack the bejesus out of you!
Murguía is in Google News because she’s in Google News.
Needless to say, no MSM reporters will ever point out the La Raza head’sobvious conflict of financial interest in promoting immigration. Even if only eight percent of the 50,000,000 Hispanics have ever heard of her, that still comes out to 4,000,000. In this great country of ours, you can make an okay living for yourself if four million people have heard of you.
So it’s in Murguía’s interest to try to double the number of Hispanics to 100,000,000 by opening the borders. That might not do much for the average Hispanic-American, but if she can maintain that sterling eight percent recognition rate, the number of Hispanics who have heard of her will go up to 8,000,000!
But to mention that would threaten the entire house of cards that is the conventional wisdom on the politics of immigration.
Another interesting aspect of the Pew Center report: it breaks out the numbers by American-born vs. foreign-born Latinos. And it turns out that American-born and English-speaking Latinos find their supposed leaders even less interesting and impressive. Pew says:
“For the most part, immigrant Latinos are more familiar than native-born Latinos are with the names of persons presented in the survey … More than half (55%) of the foreign born have heard of Villaraigosa, while just three-in-ten (31%) of the native born said the same. … Immigrant Hispanics are also more inclined than native-born Hispanics to say each of the eight prominent Hispanics are leaders. Sotomayor achieved a leadership score of 51% among foreign-born Hispanics, but only 38% among the native born.”
There appears to be a sizable Univision Effect. Immigrants watch Jorge Ramos, the blue-eyed anchorman of Univision’s Spanish-language nightly news, go on about Latino Leaders. So they think more highly of them—and especially of Ramos himself:
“Ramos achieved a [leadership] score of 51% among the foreign born—equal to that of Sotomayor—but he achieved a score of less than half that (23%) among native-born Hispanics.”
In contrast, among Latinos who say they are more proficient at English than Spanish (i.e., the most assimilated), none of the Elite Eight registered as a leader among even one out of three respondents.
Finally, consider the partisan affiliation of the Elite Eight. I can’t find anything definitive on Ramos, who only recently bothered to become an American citizen after decades in the U.S. Of the other seven, six are Democrats. And Huerta is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
That distribution is farther to the left than that of Hispanic voters, but it’s typical for Hispanic elected officials, who are at least 90 percent Democrats.
Immigration just creates more Democratic politicians.
Bottom line: Latino leaders aren’t as good at their self-proclaimed careers of leading Latinos. They are good, however, at misleading MSM journalists.
But how hard is that?
[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog. His new book,AMERICA’S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA’S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]