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29 May 2009

Forced somehow — by any means necessary — to come up with some rational explanation of his party’s attempts to denigrate the nomination of Appeals Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to a position on the Supreme Court of the United States, Karl Rove sniped that Sotomayor — despite reports to the contrary — would not be the first “Hispanic” to be nominated for this position. According to Rove, that would have been Benjamin N. Cardozo, appointed to the Supreme Court in 1932 by outgoing president Herbert Hoover.

Funny, he doesn't look Mexican

Funny, he doesn't look Mexican

Rove (who also claims Judge Sotomayor is intellectually challenged) never bothered to look up the meaning of “Hispanic” — defined in 1978 by the United States Office of Management and Budget as:

A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish Culture.

Cardozo, was highly cultured, but his culture was not that of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central or South America or Spain.  His family were Sephardic Jews.  Even if, given the common assumption that Sephardic Jews with Portuguese names at one point had ancestors living on the Iberian Peninsula, Portuguese descent (especially when it was about 500 years ago) doesn’t count.  As the Associated Press Style Book specifically cautions, “Refer to people of Brazilian and Portuguese origin as such, not as Hispanic. ”

As it is, it’s not always clear that Sephardim with Portuguese names were necessarily Portuguese anyway.  Given that a number of Sephardim fled Portugal during the early 16th century Inquisition, it could simply mean that someone somewhere acquired the common surname of a prominent local family.  Benjamin  Disraeli, also of Sephardic heritage, claimed the family name was Italian, though what his family had been called in Italy is anyone’s guess.  And no one ever claimed Disraeli was England’s first Italian Prime Minister.

Even if — as Cardozo himself believed — the family was resident at some point in Portugal, it’s hard to get around the second fact. The family spent about two hundred years in ENGLAND and HOLLAND before they showed up in New York, before the United States even existed.  Anglo-Dutch — you, know, like Cardozo’s neighbor Teddy Roosevelt (who at least had SOME connection to Cuba).  Ok, Cardozo wasn’t quite  “WASP”, but he was WAS (White, Anglo, Sephardim — though claiming “agnostic” as his religion) … and that ain’t Hispanic.

Not Hispanic either

Not Cuban, not Hispanic... and -- despite the pose -- not gay

Judge Sotomayor, another New Yorker, is… her parents having been United States citizens (by birth) from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. That does make her “Hispanic” by all the definitions. Don’t worry, Karl. Benjamin N. Cardozo MAY have been a “minority” that Republicans would have had better luck selling as “controversial” … as his “Wikipedia” entry notes:

The fact that Cardozo was unmarried and was personally tutored by the writer Horatio Alger (who had been accused of inappropriate sexual relations with young boys) has led some of Cardozo’s biographers to insinuate that Cardozo was gay, but no real evidence exists to corroborate this possibility.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul permalink
    14 September 2009 1:02 pm

    Benjamin Cardozo was a Portuguese Jew(very rare by the way). Cardozo is a Portuguese name. How he is even considered of being Hispanic, is beyond me. Portugal and Spain are two totally different countries in every aspect. All these two countries have in common are that of being neighbors. France also neighbors Spain and i doubt people are confusing the French of being Hispanics. Such ignorance! I am Portuguese/American, and would be furious if someone confused me with being Hispanic.

  2. Bebe permalink
    23 January 2013 2:33 pm

    Not sure why you needed to notate both pix with such silly stereotypical comments.


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