Gonzales’ Latino background shouldn’t have been a factor

By By Nicholas Pappas

By Nicholas Pappas

In a perfect world, we should be judged by our deeds and only those deeds. It shouldn’t make a difference whether our skin is brown, our clothes are shoddy or our wallet is slim.

This is not a perfect world — it is far from it.

In this world, it’s important to put everyone in a box, seal it shut and write with a Sharpie where they should go. I experience this firsthand daily. People look at me, not sure “what” I am. Am I a tan Caucasian or a light-skinned Latino? Which box should I be put in?

In fact, I am half Greek, half Filipino (I have a deep love for philosophy and own too many shoes). It doesn’t matter, though. I’m not offended if I’m called Latino, or Asian, or anything else. To be offended is to have contempt for those you are being compared with. All I can do is be a decent and friendly person, and all stereotypes will be positive.

Mitt Romney has experience with this. Every action he takes is seen as a reflection on his LDS faith. Barack Obama is said to not be “black enough.” Hilary Clinton needs to work on her femininity.

I bring this up because earlier this week, Alberto Gonzales announced his resignation. He was the first Latino Attorney General — a great feat considering 78 of those elected before him were white men, with Janet Reno being the only exception.

His nomination should have been both a victory for him and a victory for those of Latino decent.

He was the son of immigrant workers, and his grandparents might have come to the country illegally. He was Catholic, the second of eight children. Unlike the long list of rich and privileged cronies, he grew up poor. His father was a construction worker.

Alberto Gonzales’ story should have been that of a man who truly lived the “American dream.” It should have been that of a hero for the working class and immigrants. His legacy should be a model which Latino families — and poor families of any color — could show to their children when they don’t want to do their homework.

Instead, he is a running gag. He leaves his office known as the puppet of a puppet.

Alberto Gonzales defended acts of torture. Alberto Gonzales was involved in illegally using the PATRIOT Act to uncover personal information because his master threw a bone in the opposite direction of the Constitution.

He was a lap dog, and, unfair as it is, he was a lap dog with a Hispanic surname.

His resignation doesn’t mean our lives are any better for it. Now it seems he will be replaced by Michael Chertoff, co-author of the PATRIOT Act. It is nice to know interpretation of law will be the responsibility of a man who wrote an act that violates it.

Alberto Gonzales was a minority in a position of power and still allowed himself to be treated as if he were inferior. During a time when immigrants are being maligned, persecuted and even hunted down and corralled, he could have been the voice they needed.

It’s an important lesson for all of us. Whether it is right or not, we are all our skin, our sex and our salaries. It is our responsibility to be decent not only for ourselves, but for those like us who will be judged by our actions.