Patterico's Pontifications

7/4/2009

Behind the New Haven Firefighter Case

Filed under: Court Decisions — DRJ @ 1:57 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

The New York Times delves into the story of 40-year-old Lieutenant Ben Vargas, the lone Hispanic firefighter plaintiff in Ricci vs DeStefano, and why he did what he did:

“Gesturing toward his three young sons, Lieutenant Vargas explained why he had no regrets. “I want them to have a fair shake, to get a job on their merits and not because they’re Hispanic or they fill a quota,” he said. “What a lousy way to live.”

Vargas is of Puerto Rican heritage like Sonia Sotomayor. His parents are from Puerto Rico and his sister lives there now. Here’s how Vargas explains the difference between Sotomayor’s perspective and his:

“She’s from Puerto Rico, and I’m from Puerto Rico,” he said. “She obviously feels differently than I do.”
***
“I consider myself an American — I was born and raised here,” he said in an interview on the porch of his home in the wooded suburb of Wallingford. “I love my people. I love my culture. I love our rice and beans, our salsa music, our language — everything my parents raised us with. But I am so grateful for the opportunity only the United States can give.”

Vargas’ mentor Deputy Chief John Marquez puts it this way:

“It seems that if you’re not the right type of minority, you get hammered.”

— DRJ

26 Responses to “Behind the New Haven Firefighter Case”

  1. If you are not the “right” type of minority…

    Translation: you need to be the correct “left” type of minority…

    the bhead (a31060)

  2. Well–that was a “left handed” complement.

    (yea, bad joke)

    BfC (5209ec)

  3. I have worked in academia since 1981. So I am familiar with this trope.

    “All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.”

    And that is the genesis of my pseudonym.

    Eric Blair (acade1)

  4. I don’t see a left-right divide in this instance.

    It’s a black-Hispanic divide, and here the black leadership had the power to block Hispanic (and white) advancement to force the city to promote more blacks.

    (Indeed, the black leader wanted to prevent promotion of candidates with “too many vowels” in their names. Which in that context obviously means he wanted to keep Hispanics out, not for left-right reasons, but to build up his own power base, because he would have more black clients who owed him their jobs.)

    In other cities, there could just as easily be a left-wing race pimp power broker of Hispanic descent who would block promotions to whites and blacks.

    I don’t think you can say that, in general, J. Sotomayor would favor blacks over Hispanics for left-right reasons. She is a Hispanic, and thinks of herself as a put-upon minority.

    It is possible (likely, even) that she sees Hispanics like Mr. Vargas, who don’t whine and cry for race-based handouts, as essentially white, and therefore not deserving of race-based empathy.

    Daryl Herbert (a32d30)

  5. A friend of mine, another surgeon, came from Cuba when he was 9 or 10. His parents sent him out first to stay with family in Florida until they could escape. He remembers being in school in Cuba and learning about “Papa Fidel.” Well, the parents couldn’t get out for several years and he ended up in an orphanage for a couple of years. They eventually got back together and he ended up living in Los Angeles, attending Loyola U. He applied to UC medical school and waited several months to hear from the admissions committee. Finally, hearing nothing, he drove up to San Francisco to the school offices and asked about his application.

    He was told it was still in the “minority subcommittee” and they had no idea when he would hear. He asked if his application could be taken out of “minority status” and just considered as if he was a white applicant. They agreed to do so and a week or two later he got his acceptance letter. He has always wondered how it would have turned out if he had not made that request since he was quickly admitted under normal criteria. He also wondered how they were making decisions since it was obviously not on grades and MCAT score.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  6. Comment by Daryl Herbert — 7/4/2009 @ 2:33 pm

    Historically, along the Eastern Seaboard, referring to people with “too many vowels in their names” refers to Italians…Got to keep those Wops in their place!…the suit is, afterall: Ricci v New Haven – not too many Ricci’s from the PR.
    It is just a coincidence that it applies to Hispanics too.

    AD - RtR/OS! (ad12dc)

  7. Disclaimer…my Mother’s maiden-name was Richey, which was Anglicized by her father when he took the family out of the Roman Catholic Church from either Ricci, or Riccio – no-one quite remembers which, it was a long time ago.

    AD - RtR/OS! (ad12dc)

  8. Apropo of Daryl’s comment, my son applied to the city of Long Beach for a firefighter spot about 10 years ago. They had 100 spots to fill and 5,000 applicants. While standing in line, he overheard two girls behind him talking about how city staff had called them that morning to make sure they could find the location for the test. Nobody had called him.

    Anyway, he took the test and scored in the top section which would assure him a job. Then a snag developed.

    It turned out that another firefighter friend, who was Hispanic, heard about a prep class the Black Firefighters Association was holding for “minority” applicants. He figured, “I’m a minority !” so he attended. It turned out that they had, not an old test, but the current test that was to be given the following weekend. About halfway through the session, one of the leaders noticed him in the back row and challenged him. He was told to get out; this was for black applicants only.

    So, he blew the whistle on the fraud and the test results were thrown out. There went Joe’s job. The next time they held the test, he couldn’t get off.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  9. I am sure Lt. Vargas is a very nice man. But the questions this article raises are:

    1)How many ‘Hispanics’ are on the New Haven FD and how many agree with his position? I think he is in a distinct minority of his minority.

    2) Why the heck do we still have this bizarre relationship with Puerto Rico? It has its own culture, language, Olympic Team, etc. My understanding is that we subsidize it heavily directly and through tax breaks. Time to give it back!

    hortense (aka horace) (ce3869)

  10. Oh no! There is a right type of minority?! Why didn’t someone tell me! I hope I’m the right type when the times comes.

    Kudos to the NYT – great article, none of their usual annoying p.c. poop.

    I like brave people unafraid to stand on their principles in the face of adversity. I like it even more when they dig in after having bigoted invectives thrown at them. The little Vargas has a dad with principles. Mr. Vargas will have a son that respects him. It is indeed a win all the way around.

    Dana (8d88ef)

  11. He asked if his application could be taken out of “minority status” and just considered as if he was a white applicant. They agreed to do so and a week or two later he got his acceptance letter.

    Dammit, Mike K, where did this mudperson get the idea that he should be treated like a white person?

    nk (218382)

  12. He’s a Cuban, nk. They don’t count as Hispanics because they are making it on their own, learning English, working hard and all that white stuff.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  13. Geez, Mike…Next thing you know they’ll want to vote.

    AD - RtR/OS! (ad12dc)

  14. Comment by hortense (aka horace) — 7/4/2009 @ 3:03 pm

    It’s up to the people of PR what their relationship to the United States will be.
    It seems that about once a decade, they have a plebesite that asks that question:
    Independence, State-hood, or Commonwealth Status; and they seem to pick the status quo every time.
    Anyway, we’re not going to give it back to Spain.

    AD - RtR/OS! (ad12dc)

  15. They don’t count as Hispanics because they are making it on their own, learning English, working hard and all that white stuff.

    White people are stupid.

    nk (218382)

  16. UNREPENTANT RACISTS !!!!!!

    timmah will be along to puke on you any time now ….

    JD (7fb1a7)

  17. The article states Lt. Vargas’s family did not speak English at home when he was growing up, so he had a hard time adjusting to school at first. I’m sure that was very difficult but he did it, and it seems he brought the same dedication and hard work to his job as a firefighter. IMO if you are going to give an extra boost to minorities, it should be given to people like Lt. Vargas because of what he’s accomplished. Instead, he has been penalized by being forced to wait years for a chance at a promotion he is qualified for.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  18. DRJ, affirmative action has deteriorated into a form of racial spoils system. It even infects the Naval Academy Unfortunately that link doesn’t work but it is here.

    Bruce Fleming, a tenured English professor, said in a June 14 opinion piece in the Capital newspaper of Annapolis that the academy operates a two-tiered admission system that makes it substantially easier for minority applicants to get in. Academy leaders strenuously deny Fleming’s assertion. Fleming served on the academy’s admissions board several years ago.

    What else is new ?

    Mike K (2cf494)

  19. DRJ – IMO if you are going to give an extra boost to minorities, it should be given to people like Lt. Vargas because of what he’s accomplished. Instead, he has been penalized by being forced to wait years for a chance at a promotion he is qualified for.

    Which is the entire problem of the affirmative action system. It is impossible to help ‘minorities’. Only individuals can be given assistance, but that necessitates that a different individual wield the power to decide which individual shall be allowed to advance. It’s not about qualifications, it’s about friends. By design, it is a system that will become corrupt.

    I only want the best qualified applicants tasked with saving my life in an emergency, not a collection of someone’s buddies. When my life’s on the line, I don’t care about ‘racial’ characteristics.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  20. Comment by Apogee — 7/4/2009 @ 6:01 pm

    You are soooo insensitive.

    AD - RtR/OS! (ad12dc)

  21. Actually, AD, when my innards are next to me in the street, I would think I would be especially sensitive at that particular point.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  22. That’s what they have Morphine for.

    AD - RtR/OS! (ad12dc)

  23. Its sad that the US has substituted quotas for excellence, merit, and industry. This probably explains why our nation is in the state it is. Worse, I pity those blacks who do excel because regardless of what the Left says they regard them as “affirmative” action candidates. Substandard people.

    Even the USNA has adopted these quotas. It is pathetic. Does the Left believe that acceptance or respect can be gained by discriminating against Asians and whites, but giving preference to blacks and queers? Not in any real live situation.

    Thomas Jackson (8ffd46)

  24. It’s up to the people of PR what their relationship to the United States will be.

    Why should that be, when we are subsidizing them? It should be up to the people of the real United States. That goes for Samoa, the Northern Marianas, and any of the rest of these silly, ex-colonial money-pits we have left. They are liabilities.

    hortense (aka horace) (ce3869)

  25. White people are stupid.

    That’s for sure. Sit around complaining about ‘affirmative action’ and begging ‘minorities’ to see themselves as individuals while the minorities band together (within their own groups and in coalitions with other minorities) to press for ‘their’ slice of the collective spoils. And all the while their numbers are increasing, meaning their political power is too.

    hortense (aka horace) (ce3869)

  26. I would like to make a few comments, if this link is not dead. I read just as many blogs as I do books and I found this thread interesting. Thanks for the props. I’ll check back later tonight and tomorow and if there is still life here I will add my two cents.

    Ben Vargas (e89708)


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