"Jason Richwine, ‘Hispanic’ IQ and the Latino Question"

by Lázaro Lima for Academic Ink

Jason Richwine, ‘Hispanic’ IQ and the Latino Question


Jason Richwine, now former Heritage Foundation senior policy analyst, has a response to one of the most fundamental questions regarding immigration reform and the largest “minority” group in the country, What is the country to do with Latinos? 
Ignoring that neither the terms “Hispanic” nor “Latino” constitute a race, Richwine responded by perpetuating the erroneous assumption that Latinos are all but recent arrivals – and likely “illegal” immigrants – in a co-authored Heritage Foundation report that put a 6.3 trillion dollar price tag on immigration reform. The conservative Heritage Foundation’s report came under scrutiny for its grossly exaggerated partisan claims and because it was discovered that Richwine had written a Harvard University dissertation that claimed Latino immigrants did not possess the intelligence quotient to make them assimilable into the American body politic despite the nation’s greater efforts to the contrary.  
Richwine claimed that Latinos, along with blacks, are simply intellectually inferior to whites and have trouble assimilating because of a supposed genetic predisposition to lower IQ which have made them incapable of meeting the basic standards of the nation’s “founding stock” (see quote above). Clearly for Richwine, “Hispanic immigrants” are interchangeable with all Latinos, immigrants or not, despite the continuous presence of peoples of Latin American ancestry in this country from its founding to our present. 

More disturbing was his unsubstantiated assertion that equality of access, the hope and mandate of Johnsonian Affirmative Action signed into law in 1964, and known as the Civil Rights Act, simply failed after 1965. Negating processes of implementation and execution of the law, not to mention historical accounting, Richwine safely survived a dissertation defense that ignored decades of social science research by contending that both IQ and the deployment of “race” in his thesis’ argument are stable “scientific” categories. As Michael P. Jefferies recently reminded us in his important Paint the White House Black (2013), “[n]o matter the time and place, race is intimately bound with the distribution of rights and resources, and racial ideas are manifest in social inequalities.”
After defending his dissertation, Richwine continued his investment in the divestiture of Latinos-cum-immigrants. He took it upon himself, for example, to remind his readers at the American Enterprise Institute’s magazine, ahem, The American, that conservatives should not be chastised for asserting that the likes of then Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was “an intellectual lightweight who lacked the brainpower to be an effective justice,” since questioning the IQ of opponents was “a specialty of liberals.” Though Richwine steered clear about assessing Sotomayor’s intelligence in his article, its presence and his broader work announced a given guarded against national reflection: that Latinos can be bashed with impunity and without pushback. 
Indeed, unlike African American public intellectuals, the lack of a viable Latino presence in the public sphere of national signification made evident the extent to which craving the stories of inclusion offered by Sotomayor’s impressive accomplishments are as compelling as they are elusive for the majority of Latinos. Even if their country of origin is the United States.


[from the forthcoming book Losing Sonia Sotomayor: An American Life After Multiculturalism]

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"Jason Richwine, ‘Hispanic’ IQ and the Latino Question"

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