Follow Up on Professor Hajnal’s WSJ Op/Ed: Race & Ethnicity   1 comment


I already did a write-up on why an op/ed by UCSD political science professor Zoltan Hajnal appearing in the WSJ used deceptive reasoning to try to commit the reader to the unsubstantiated notion that the GOP used racist tactics in the 2010 elections. I stand by my analysis, but still have more to say. Beyond trying to presuppose GOP racism through arguing it is a poor long-term strategy, Professor Hajnal uses shady statistics to support the idea that the GOP only appealed to whites in 2010. Here’s what he writes:

“Even with Democrats presiding over the worst economy since the Great Depression, racial and ethnic minorities did not turn away from the Democratic Party. Last week Latinos favored Democrats over Republicans nearly 2 to 1 (64% to 34%), blacks voted overwhelmingly for Democrats (90%), and a clear majority of Asian- Americans (56%) supported Democrats.”

First off, he cites “racial and ethnic minorities,” without distinguishing between the two, a clue into the deceptive game being played. What’s the difference between a racial minority and an ethnic minority? Citing both together without differentiating between the two is an attempt to spin an illusion of inclusiveness and comprehensive data. Hajnal cites “racial and ethnic minorities” and then mentions the groups called Latinos, blacks, and Asian-Americans. This is atrocious political science.

While most political science recognizes African Americans as a voting demographic, closely aligned with the Democratic Party since the 1964 realignment, Latinos and Asian-Americans are not. Hajnal is a UCSD political science professor. A political science major, I have never had a political science professor at UCSD who declared “Latinos” or “Asian-Americans” to constitute a unitary voting bloc. Surely, Professor Hajnal’s colleagues have introduced him to the idea that “Latinos” and “Asian-Americans” are highly diverse, difficult to define, and nonuniform across member ethnicities. I’m told so every quarter!

The Mexican vote differs from the Argentinian vote differs from the Cuban vote. The Chinese vote differs from the Korean vote. The 2nd generation vote differs from the 4th generation Japanese vote. Are Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Indians included or not? To pigeonhole a whole civilization of diversity under the labels of “Latino” and “Asian-American” speaks of a severe intellectual dishonesty. It’s also insulting. To talk about the “Latino” vote or “Asian-American” vote in such broad and generalized terms is like talking about the vote of people named “Matthew” or “black-haired people with glasses.” To try to draw meaningful inference from the data is misguided at best. From a professor who knows better, it’s unscrupulous.

Being able to say 64% of Latinos and 56% of Asian-Americans favored Democrats in an election sure sounds like significant evidence that Latinos and Asian-Americans are loyal to the Democratic party. But who are the “Latinos” and the “Asian-Americans”? Hajnal never mentions which ethnicities were included under those vague and misleading terms. Latinos and Asian-Americans are overbroad terms that crudely group together by geographic region. The many groups constituting these terms are actually incredibly diverse, culturally and ideologically. The compulsion to group these diverse peoples together under umbrella terms “Latinos” and “Asian-Americans” produces no meaningful data and represents and underhanded tactic.

Such sneaky, dishonest, arguments that disrespect cultures wholesale are wholly unacceptable.

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Posted December 2, 2010 by Wada in UCSD

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One response to “Follow Up on Professor Hajnal’s WSJ Op/Ed: Race & Ethnicity

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  1. Barack Obama has opened up a huge 23-point lead over John McCain among Asian Americans in California according to the latest Field Poll of the state. Weve seen a lot of coverage recently of how Asian American voters can make the critical difference in key battleground states in this election. The Coalitions Fred Tsao said What we re seeing is large populations of immigrant voters Latino registered voters Asian American registered voters who could have a major impact.

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