March 03, 2003
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From: Randall T. Hayes
On January 22, 2003, MSNBC's "Donahue" show dealt with the issue of race. In defense of Hispanic immigration, Phil Donahue said that there have been more Latino Medal of Honor recipients than there have been MOH recipients from any other ethnic group. He prefaced the claim with the statement that they had "looked this up." I decided to look it up, too.
According to the website of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, there have been 41 Hispanic, 87 African-American, 31 Asian-American, and 22 American Indian MOH recipients. Based on the process of elimination, I presume that virtually all of the other 3,200+ MOH recipients are white.
According to www.thewildgeese.com (a web site devoted to Irish history and culture), 258 MOH recipients listed their birthplace as Ireland and 128 listed their birthplace as Germany or Prussia. Of course, these numbers represent only tiny portions of the total numbers of Irish-descended and German-descended MOH recipients.
Even if we assume that Mr. Donahue meant to say that there have been proportionally more Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients, it would still be untrue. Proportionally, there have even been more Asian-American and American Indian recipients than Hispanic recipients.
On the February 10, 2003, episode of his show (which also dealt with race and featured American Renaissance's Jared Taylor), Mr. Donahue said that there are more Hispanic Nobel Laureates than there are Nobel Laureates of any other single ethnic group.
In looking for statistics on how many Hispanic Nobel Laureates there have been compared to other ethnic groups, the first web site I found was the web site of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. In a news item about a PBS documentary on the Nobel Prize, the NACME site said, "As we survey the list of past Nobel Laureates, however, we find very few African Americans, American Indians, and Latinos."
I then moved on to the official web site of the Nobel Foundation. Their site has bios of all the winners of the Nobel Prizes in every category since the Prize was founded.
To be as fair as possible to Mr. Donahue, I decided to define "Hispanic" as broadly as possible. Anyone who was born in a Latin American country or who had a Spanish surname and was born in the Western Hemisphere would be considered Hispanic.
In the whole history of the Nobel Prize, I counted 15 Hispanic Laureates.
The largest group of Laureates were white non-Hispanics from the United States. There were over 200 of them. (Of course, white non-Hispanics from the United States do make up more than one ethnic group.) There were also more than 80 British Laureates, more than 70 German Laureates, a few dozen French Laureates, and at least a couple dozen Swedish Laureates.
There were several other ethnic groups with more Nobel Laureates than the Hispanics.
Although the Nobel web site bios usually do not go into much detail about the ethnic ancestry of the winners, several web sites I found claim that 159 Nobel Laureates were at least half Jewish. Most of the Jewish Laureates are somewhere in the American, British, German, and French figures listed above, but at least a couple of them are among the Hispanic Laureates.
Even if you mistakenly put the Laureates from Spain and Portugal into the Hispanic category, the Hispanic Laureates would still be vastly outnumbered by those from a few other ethnic groups. Even in their two strongest categories (Peace and Literature), Hispanics have nowhere near a plurality of the Prizes.
I've come to expect inaccuracies, especially on racial issues, from television news and talk shows. But these two were of a particularly ridiculous severity.