When Democratic National Committee official and “Latinos for Dean” operative Steve Ybarra socked former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin with a racial sucker punch, it reminded us why less than four percent of the elected officials serving in Congress are Hispanic — we (as Hispanics) like to bruise our own.
Instead of building networks and farm teams of qualified minority candidates, we knock them off one at a time with vicious — and often racially motivated — jabs such as “coconut” or, as in Ybarra’s case, “House Mexican.” When will we allow candidates to be judged by the “content of their character, not by the color of their skin” — and certainly not by whether they are “Latino enough” to satisfy the Democrats?
Politicians, candidates and organizations that supposedly champion the rights of women and Hispanics should collectively cry foul against Ybarra and the hate speech he not only mouthed but justified.
Rosario Marin is an honorable, hard working immigrant who represents the best part of being an American. Born in Mexico and forced to teach herself English, Rosario worked her way through college as an assistant receptionist before being named vice president of a California bank. She not only rose professionally in her life, but faced challenges many parents have come to endure. Her first child, Eric, was diagnosed with Down syndrome — forcing her to leave her job and lose her home. She gave it all up to devote herself completely to her child.
Instead of crying “Why us,” she chose to think “Why not us?” and rose to meet the challenge. When Marin and her husband, Alex, were told that their son would be paralyzed for life, they fought back. Rather than accept the diagnosis, they plotted a course through the health care system that got him two neck surgeries, followed by three years of physical therapy.
Determined to end the stigma that even now attaches in the Latino culture when a family gives birth to a child with severe disabilities, she formed a support group in her living room. Today, that group — “FUERZA” — is an international organization which has been recognized by the United Nations. And frustrated with the way families of the severely disabled were often treated, she became one of California’s most outspoken advocates on their behalf, successfully fighting for legislation that put families, not bureaucrats, in charge of their children’s treatment.
While choosing a reason to run for higher office does not usually involve a platform on motherhood, this is one tough lady who exemplifies the qualities we value in our public servants: perseverance, hard work and faith.
Ybarra’s characterization of Marin is nothing short of a racial slur which, had it been uttered by a Republican, would rightfully have drawn outrage. Where is that outrage now? Why is it that Ybarra can trash Marin without so much as a “boo” from prominent Democrats and so-called champions of women and Hispanics? The answer is obvious. Marin may be a politically correct color; but her ideology is not. Sickeningly, that makes her fair game for those who claim the mantle of tolerance and racial justice.
There is no place in our political discourse for this kind of race-based name-calling made all the worse by a double standard that sanctions it when used against conservatives. Marin deserves an apology; Ybarra should proffer one; and he and those who sanction his behavior through their silence should be ashamed.
Leslie Sanchez is a visiting fellow for IWF. This article was featured in the January Congressional Hispanic Conference E-Newsletter.