Ruben Navarrette, Jr. Tony & Me

Can Hispanic journalists be objective about a candidate named Sanchez? The answer is, I hate the question.

AS AN EDITORIAL WRITER AND columnist who also happens to be Mexican American, I have wrestled with how I should cover the campaign of Tony Sanchez, who is trying to be elected Texas’ first Latino governor. Can I be “objective?”

The question ceased to be theoretical when Governor Rick Perry ran a television ad that was designed to push people’s buttons. They pushed mine. The thirty-second spots accused Sanchez of laundering millions of dollars for Mexican drug lords. In a meeting with the Dallas Morning News editorial board, on which I sit, Sanchez angrily denounced the ads but resisted calling them racist. His consultants had probably warned him that playing the race card might mean conceding the pot. Able to recognize a white sheet when I see one, I wrote a column blasting the drug ads for exploiting the stereotype of Mexican corruption in a deliberate effort to frighten white voters away from Sanchez. Never mind that neither Sanchez nor his bank was charged with wrongdoing.

My colleagues, most of whom are white, didn’t see the ads in the same light. Because I am Mexican American, I have sensibilities and insights that differ from theirs. Of course, one man’s insight is another man’s absence of objectivity. So now I am under a microscope. Colleagues and readers are questioning whether journalists with Spanish surnames can be objective in offering opinions about somebody named Sanchez.

My answer is that as a journalist, I am defined by more than my color or culture. I am also defined by my profession. And so, delight as I do

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