Is Someone of Recent Gibraltarian Origin "Hispanic?"

No, said a New York court

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Lagrua v. Ward, 136 Misc. 655 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1987) involved a New York police officer who, to benefit from an affirmative action program, sought to change his ethnic classification with the police department from white to Hispanic. To substantiate his claim of Hispanic identity, Lagrua claimed that his mother was born in Gibraltar and that his maternal grandparents were of Hispanic origin. He also claimed that he had joined the Police Department's Hispanic Organization. The officer in charge of such things could not substantiate that Lagrua had ever been a member of the Hispanic Society. Moreover, though originally part of Spain, "Gibraltar is and has been under British rule since 1718; the culture there is mixed, the official language is English and the law is based on English Common law. Although Spanish is widely spoken the Gibraltarian way of life is predominantly British." The department therefore determined that Lagrua was not Hispanic, a conclusion accepted by the police department's equal opportunity office. On appeal to the New York State Supreme Court, the court concluded that this decision was not erroneous, and therefore ruled that Lagrua would remain classified as white.

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  1. Lines are hard to draw re complex but important concepts! In other news, Mid-East Peace talks stall.

    1. Lines are also hard to draw re: complex but trivial concepts. Also for ‘complex because they are irrational’ concepts.

      Complexity (as evidenced by the difficulty drawing lines) is not evidence that a concept is important. The impossibility of drawing lines, however, can be circumstantial evidence that the concept is irrational and that perhaps we ought not to be wasting our time trying to draw undrawable lines.

    2. Yeah, every time you create a nobility that has special rights, people tie themselves into knots trying to find a way they’re part of the nobility. The solution is to abolish all forms of nobility or, at least, make it strictly ceremonial. Our era of race-based nobility is no different.

      1. The idea that, say, hispanics and/or blacks are nobility in our history is laughable if it were not so tragic.

        1. Psst – 2019 is not 1955.

    3. This particular line didn’t seem hard to draw at all.

      Guy tried to claim he was Hispanic when he wasn’t and got shot down at every turn.

      What is the issue?

      1. How do you know he wasn’t Hispanic?

        You can’t use the court ruling itself, because that’s circular. And Gibraltar was part of Hispania if were going old school, so he’s at least a hispaniensis (conjugation? It’s been a long time), which translates into English as Hispanic the same as Hispanus (pretty sure I conjugated that one right) – English is a lot less precise than Latin.

        Or you could go with the Census Bureaus “a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race,” which either excludes many people stereotypically categorized that way or includes everyone whose ever seen the most popular video in YouTube history.

        1. Absotively! “Hispanic” has nothing to do with any of the racial categories the Census Bureau uses. Hispanics can be — and are — of any “race.” The majority of American Hispanics are of Mexican ancestry, and most Mexican Americans are white — no mater how much the activists call the “people of color.”

          So the guy is not a non-Hispanic white. He’s an ordinary white, maybe even a WASP for what it’s worth.

  2. Was he then issued a white privilege card?

    I’m still looking for mine. Can I get it reissued by some governmental agency if I can’t find it?

    1. Just make clear you show them your monocle, your Maxim subscription, and even (if absolutely necessary), your Vanilla Ice CDs.

    2. Can I get it reissued by some governmental agency if I can’t find it?

      Of course you can.

      Go to your local county/state office that issues birth certificates and request a copy.

      1. I must have gotten ripped off because my birth certificate doesn’t show that.

        (About the only thing it does show is that I’m older than I want to admit.)

  3. Alas for the racial purity types, they’re going to find that many apparent People of Color are actually mischlings. I hope they tie themselves in knots fighting over who is entitled to race-based benefits.

  4. One wonders how his fellow white NY police officers (not widely known for tolerance under the best of circumstances) have reacted/will react to his decision to try and game the system. And how actual Hispanic officers reacted to that decision. He’ll probably be the subject of a few pointed squad room pranks…at the very least.

    1. 1987, he’s retired by now.

      1. Whoops! Nice catch, Bob…my bad. (The benefit of David B posting on a 1987 case is, um, unusual. When Eugene Volokh does something like this, he’ll add a comment like, “This is an old case, but I just came across it and thought it was funny.”, or, “This is an old case, but I thought it relevant in light of [fill in current event that illustrates its relevance].”

        When Conspirators doing posts about a case that interests them, I clearly have been automatically defaulting to a “This is something recent” mindset. That’s sloppy reading on my part, and I’ll make sure to avoid it here in the future.

        1. No, that’s a reasonable default rule. I suspect it was merely an oversight as I recall Bernstein having flagged posted before as based on old info.

  5. Had Mark Twain been familiar with the Volokh Conspiracy, The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer would have included a description of conservatives in public settings voluntarily precipitating discussions about Hispanics (or women, or gays, or blacks, or Asians, or Muslims, or . . .) instead of that bit about whitewashing a fence.

    1. Mark Twain would have *loved* people like you. I mean, he would love to have people like you to kick around when he was in one of his playful moods.

    2. How DARE academic lawyers talk about law, amirite?

      I mean, if it has anything to do with anyone who isn’t white and Christian or Jewish.

      Only good people of appropriate groups with the right views can talk about those people, right?

      GFY, Kirkland.

      1. you waste far to much of your “give a damn” quota, on a person of such small/absent intellect.

  6. Not sure of the point here.

    It’s a case from three decades ago when someone applied for benefits where they did not meet the qualifications.

    Or is it enough just to write “affirmative action” and then sit back and watch the teeth gnash and spittle fly?

    1. This 1987 case isn’t a historical relic since the same sort of arbitrary distinctions keep having to be drawn:

      https://reason.com/2019/10/28/on-spanish-people-and-affirmative-action/

      Why not use mockery against affirmative actio? Spittle-flecked indignation has its place, but how can supporters actually defend the arbitrariness of this system?

    2. “Not sure of the point here.”

      To show how stupid and arbitrary affirmative action racial classifications are and always have been.

      1. Really, it’s much simpler than that. Everyone, including many experts in the academic world, believe that ethnic/racial categorization for legal purposes is purely a matter of self-identification. Not true.

        1. What is an objective ethnic /racial categorization? Is there a legal definition of African American / Black? Or does it just follow the “one drop” rule?

          Gibraltar is an interesting case. If we accept that anybody from a Spanish or Portuguese speaking country is “hispanic” then if somebody from Gibraltar is not “hispanic” it could have diplomatic repercussions since Spain claims Gibraltar even if the British are currently control it.

          1. Being a cynic, I’d hazard that the legal definition depends to an extent on whatever the courts can settle on which does not put affirmative action itself in dispute.

        2. Of course its true.
          If a white couple lists their child as Negro, on a Kindergarten registration, who is going to prove that wrong and by what standard? The schools refuse to ask of the students are US citizens, forcing the parents to prove race, is something administrators will never tackle.
          Hispanic is not a race, it’s a culture. The town I live in is more that 40% of Mexican, Central, South American, Spanish speaking. Within families it is impossible, by visual cues to tell them apart from those of European dissent.

        3. […] ethnic/racial categorization for legal purposes is purely a matter of self-identification.

          Nah.

          How others perceive you has always been a big part of it.

          For example, if someone throw you out of their restaurant for being a wetback, it doesn’t actually matter if you’re from Spain or Mexico, you still suffered anti-Hispanic discrimination.

          Heck, that whole case-line about how firing for stereotypes (and not meeting them) was premised on how discrimination can be based not on what you are, but how people perceive you are (or should be).

          How you identify is part of it, sure. But how others perceive you is also an important part.

    3. ‘watch the teeth gnash and spittle fly?”

      Its just pointing out how you guys havent considered how your ‘benign’ racial discrimination will play out in a truly ethnically diverse society where major positions begin to be divvied out on the basis of ethnic spoils and grievance politics.
      There is no good justification for these policies. It harms institutional integrity and (often) even its supposed beneficiaries (mismatch)

      1. Magnifying the margins doesn’t prove much about the general function of a policy.

        Neither does your own dislike of it.

        I’m skeptical of affirmative action as focused on race (I think I prefer class/background generally), but the way things on this blog often end up evolving to either ‘you’re forcing me to be racist’ or ‘the Bell Curve was right!’ makes me think maybe we do still have some work to do on racism specifically.

        1. Its not my personal dislike of it.

          Look at Richard Sanders work for an intro to mismatch (eg: # of black law students at bottom of class and who never pass bar).

          Look into the “diversity-validity” tradeoff for AA’s impact on institutional integrity/performance.
          More: https://jacobitemag.com/2017/08/10/a-question-of-merit/

          I am not arguing that these edge cases prove the policy unworkable. What I was saying is that in our soon-to-be truly multiethnic society, AA will turn into a divisive political patronage system. There are few compelling arguments in defense of AA other than owning the cons.
          Also, 2019 America isnt the racist hellscape you believe (desire) it to be, so I think we are fine

          1. I’ve seen the work about affirmative action and passing rates. The thing is, while it’s a headwind it isn’t enough to counteract the net positive outcome.

            Your linked article seems to be more partisan screed than substantive argument, and spends more time arguing from authority (Quilette? Really) than discussing it’s own thesis, which is that the Bell Curve is legit.

            I mean, Oy.
            Progressive science is the academic wing of blank-slatist ideologues, providing a patina of scholarly respectability for their ideas
            This reads like satire of an idealogue trying to sound academic.

            Count me in the IQ isn’t real camp. It’s correlated with a bunch of success metrics, but causality is proving quite difficult for those trying to argue that the playing field is fair.

            1. ” while it’s a headwind it isn’t enough to counteract the net positive outcome” Nice unsupported assertion. The windfall really swamps out the mismatch, performance decrease etc.?

              I referenced empirically backed concepts (vast literature supporting it) and in return you just snark it up

              IQ is one of the most well-replicated constructs in psychology, feel free to go out on a limb (without any support whatsoever) though. Iq has held up in adoption studies etc. Iq is more predictive than SES and studies have consistently ruled out whatever Ad hoc explanations lefties come up with (implicit bias, stereotype threat etc.)

              Its bizarre how much mental contortion (and in California and similar states where referenda prohibiting AA are in force evasion of the law) Woke Folk will do in order to preserve their regime of racial discrimination.

            2. “The thing is, while it’s a headwind it isn’t enough to counteract the net positive outcome.”

              Its astonishing how certain people are so sure of the absolute moral superiority of their positions that they feel license to make bold unsupported statements of this nature.

              1. Are you trying to argue that blacks would have better graduation rates without affirmative action? Because if you want to talk about bold unsupported theses.

                Anyhow, enjoy your ‘blacks are genetically dumber’ world. I’ve learned that posting the many, many criticisms of that finding, and of the essentialism of IQ as a metric, don’t go far with you folks.

            3. Sarcastro wrote: “Count me in the IQ isn’t real camp.”

              And they call themselves the party of science…..

              1. Yeah, pointing out correlation isn’t causation is truly magical thinking.

                Did you look up how IQ was created? It wasn’t in a lab!

              2. Also, check out where the scientific consensus is. Hint: it’s not on the ‘IQ is real, and blacks have less of it’ camp.

    4. Systems of nobility don’t work, in part because they’re inherently unjust but mostly because people, quite rationally, game the system to try and be part of the nobility. Our current era of race-based nobility is no different. Pointing out the irrationality of the current political system is always worthwhile.

      1. Are you arguing that Blacks are the nobles of our political system??

        These threads bring out the craziest theses.

        1. The government and private institutions dole out special privileges and rights based on lineage, which are numerous in form– employment opportunities, university admissions, government contract, loans, and so forth. The only way for those not in the lineage to gain those rights is to marry into it, or to go to court and litigate that they’re actually part of the favored lineage because (reason), as this cop unsuccessfully attempted to do. The only thing that really distinguishes this from nobility is that we don’t use the word nobility.

          1. Weird how the outcome is more like whites are in all the power spots the vast majority of the time, particularly on the right side of things.

            Keep trying to push your aristocracy thesis. Sure to win friends and influence people.

        2. Christ, its a metaphor and it works really well. Nobility, as in a place in society dictated by genetic lineage.
          Exactly what this example represents. A man claiming a place in society determined by his genetic lineage.

          1. Yeah, it’s telling you think that’s what aristocracy looks like.

  7. I’m curious whether the Spanish government learned of this case. They think Gibraltar is naturally Spanish and should be returned to them. So if some court in the U. S. said Gibraltarians (?) aren’t hispanic, would this mean a diplomatic crisis?

    (OK, probably not, but I do wonder about the Spanish govt reaction if any)

  8. … wouldn’t that mean that someone with Mexican parents, born and raised in the US speaking English would be “not Hispanic”?

    Because if it’s “Spanish-speaking country and way of life”…

    (It is, of course, ludicrous.

    Because “Hispanic” is a ludicrous category when used like this – which wouldn’t matter at all if it wasn’t a gateway to Special Stuff People Want.

    If people want to help people from Mexico and Central America and their descendants, they should define the term that way, rather than “speaks Spanish and vaguely not Anglo or something”.

    cf. also “white Hispanic” for, you know, the wrong kind of “Hispanic”, when they’re inconvenient to the identity narrative.)

    1. More importantly, are Black people not Black if raised in Britain?

      1. Reminds me of a couple of engineers who used to work for me, that I’d bring around corporate bigots.

        “I’m not African American,” said the black guy, “I’m African. I’m from Nigeria.” And the white guy would add, “I’m the African American, I was born in South Africa and got my US citizenship last year.”

        Always fun to watch a bigots face when they hear that.

  9. King Juan Carlos is Hispanic we believe. I mean, as King of Spain, he must be. And of course, he is worthy of special affirmative action support, as are Julio Iglesias and Placido Domingo.
    Japanese Americans are the wealthiest ethnic group in the US. Are they also free to claim affirmative action aid?

    1. Being merely a pretty smart Japaneses American may keep you out of Harvard.

      1. Much like being black, female, or gay seems to be a general problem for anyone hoping to be nominated by Pres. Trump for the federal bench?

        (The silver lining is that the Republican Party’s association with old-timey intolerance is going to hit the gun nuts, anti-abortion absolutists, and those favoring endless privilege for religious claimants extremely hard during the next decade or so.)

  10. So, by extension, posting a flyer that says “IT’S OKAY TO BE GIBRALTARIAN” is a hate crime that will get you investigated by the FBI. Keep it to yourself whitey.

  11. Well, now.
    Since we have thrown out DNA as science, so that men can be women and women can be men just by saying so, perhaps it is time to reconsider this case.
    How can things like where you were born and raised, and what language(s) you speak, possibly outrank how you FEEL?!?!

    1. Yes gender is a social construct, but…race…like Hispanic is cooked in, or something

  12. Here is a fun game to play. Take any publication from Germany c. 1930’s and replace “Ayran” with “People of Color”. It will read just like a social justice warrior cranked it right off the presses yesterday. Fun times!

  13. Would the same issues apply to the child of someone born in the United States?

  14. The whole issue of proprietorial discretion is a smoke screen. DACA is an executive branch attempt to enact the Dream Act directly defying Congress which refused to pass the Dream Act. It is one thing to enforce or not enforce the law. It is something else to openly defy the law, including defiance of Congress’ rejection of a law.

    DACA defenders walk in the shoes of Judge Posner when he said:

    “I would prefer to see us acknowledge openly that today we, who are judges rather than members of Congress, are imposing on a half-century-old statute a meaning of “sex discrimination” that the Congress that enacted it would not have accepted. This is something courts do fairly frequently to avoid statutory obsolescence and concomitantly to avoid placing the entire burden of updating old statutes on the legislative branch.”

    IMO, the Obama Administration, said “OK Congress, if you won’t pass the Dream Act, we will.”

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