The Egg on Heritage Foundation's Face

Article excerpt

Dear Heritage Foundation, you're not helping.

I assume you agree with the proposition that -- demographics being what they are -- it would be a good thing to thaw out the frosty relationship between Latinos and Republicans. Yet, your incompetence and insensitivity during the Jason Richwine debacle have brought in a new cold front.

What's the point of building bridges between Latinos and the Republican Party if one of the nation's leading conservative think tanks is going to blow them up?

Frankly, I couldn't care less if Latinos never cast another vote for a Republican candidate. Here's what I do care about -- that Latino voters see casting such a vote as a viable option. I want Latinos to have choices and be courted by both parties. Otherwise, they will be politically irrelevant, written off by one party and taken for granted by another.

That's the collateral damage of L'Affaire Richwine. Here's the background: Jason Richwine is a former senior policy analyst at Heritage and the co-author of a roundly discredited study that said the Senate immigration reform bill would cost taxpayers roughly $6.3 trillion over the next half-century. It was recently revealed that Richwine -- in his 2009 Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government -- made the goofy argument that Hispanic immigrants and their descendants were forever destined to be less intelligent than whites. He wrote:

"Immigrants living in the U.S. today do not have the same level of cognitive ability as natives. ... No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against."

It's not difficult, actually. Because, with the exception of the bedtime stories I read my children, there are no crystal balls. It's one thing to compare the IQs of immigrants and natives. It's another to predict how that immigrant's great-grandchildren will score on an IQ test 100 years down the road.

This kind of thinking is ugly, racist, and familiar to anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the kinds of things that were said about German, Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants in their day. …