This week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said, “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK.  Do I need to say more?” 

I’m writing to say, “Shame on you, Senator Reid!”  Broadly generalizing any group of people and their political ideologies (plural) is wrong.  This rhetorical bullying precludes the idea that Latinos in the United States – just like everyone else – have a choice about what to believe and who to follow.

Latinos are a large and growing segment of the U.S. population.  They are a diverse group, bringing various cultures and histories to the table.  Furthermore, their political values stretch across the spectrum.  To treat Latinos like an established liberal voting bloc is wrong, and implies a lack of appreciation for diversity among Latinos on Reid’s part.

For years at the Independent Women’s Forum, our scholars have faced similarly insulting ideas.  It would be just as easy for Reid or any other politician to say, “I don’t know how any woman could be a believer in limited government and free markets.”  But to assume that a person’s race or gender will dictate his or her political views is to assume that there is no diversity of thought within a demographic group.  This year particularly proves such a thesis wrong as there are many female, limited-government advocates running for public offices!

Political commentator Dr. Manny Alvarez explains his feelings about Reid’s remarks here.  I don’t know if Senator Reid realizes that he deeply hurt Latinos of all political persuasions with his generalization.  Regardless of whether Latinos are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents, they should be treated with the basic respect that each person can rationally choose his or her own political ideology, based on personal beliefs, not ethnic stereotypes enforced by politicians like Harry Reid.