***UPDATE: Halperin apologized to Cruz and “tho those who were offended” Monday and claims that the problem is that “rushed through the questions.”
A classic case of racism occurs when a powerful white man intentionally abuses his power to humiliate or damage a less powerful minority using that minority’s race as a weapon. In an interview setting, when you are running for president, there is no question that the interviewer holds all the power, even when you are a United States Senator. Which brings me to Mark Halperin’s racist interview with Republican Senator Ted Cruz…
As most of you know Cruz is Hispanic, specifically Cuban; the media believe the Hispanic vote is crucial to winning the White House; the media loathe Ted Cruz, and Halperin is a member-in-good-standing among the elite media. What better way, then, for Halperin to shine among his colleagues than to racially disqualify Cruz; to make him toxic to Hispanic voters.
The problem for Halperin is that there is no way for him to do that isn’t racist. The powerful white Halperin can only racially disqualify Cruz by administering a humiliating racial-purity test, and by abusing his power through the demand that Cruz perform publicly for him and the audience. “Sing me a song, boy” becomes “Speak us some Spanish, boy.”
Halperin: Senator, people are really interested in you and your identity. I just wanted to ask you as a historical matter, when you filled out your application to Princeton, to Harvard Law School, did you list yourself as an Hispanic?
Cruz: I listed myself as Cuban-American. That’s my heritage and my background.
Halperin: I want to close by talking a little more about your Cuban heritage, and ask you in the following categories if you have an affinity for or a connection to anything part of your Cuban past, do you have a favorite Cuban food… Cuban dish?
Cruz: Oh, I grew up eating Cuban food all the time, I…
[Halperin immediately cuts him off to hammer the question]
Halperin: What’s your favorite dish?
[Cruz answers with a litany of food from his childhood, and customs his family enjoyed during the holidays.]
Halperin: Alright… do you like Cuban music. Do you have a favorite Cuban Singer?
Cruz: You know I have to admit in that I’m much more of a Texan. I tend to listen to country music more than Cuban music. …
Halperin: Finally, I wanted to give you the opportunity to welcome your colleague Senator Sanders to the race and I’d like you to do it, if you would, en Espanol.
The lowlights are listed above and in the video, much of which was premised on questioning Cruz’s Hispanic heritage.
There is just no question that Halperin used Cruz’s race as a bludgeon to try and put the Senator in a humiliating no-win position: “You can either perform or risk having your racial identity challenged.”
Cruz had just given a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Congress. What a perfect time to racially humiliate him by questioning his Hispanic bona fides.
Writing for the San Jose Mercury News, Ruben Navarette properly called the interview “racist,” and added:
As a journalist, I felt embarrassed for Halperin. As a Hispanic, I felt like I was watching a college fraternity have fun with racial stereotypes, like when staging a “border party” where people show up in serapes and fake mustaches. …
Just when I thought I’d seen the worst, it got even more offensive. Earlier that day, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, had entered the presidential race. So, Halperin said: “I want to give you the opportunity to directly welcome your colleague Sen. Sanders to the race, and I’d like you to do it, if you would, en español.”
What nerve, treating a U.S. senator like a trained seal! Who does this guy think he is, trying to evaluate how well a Hispanic speaks Spanish? And what does that have to do with being authentic anyway?
You know who, by their own admission, don’t speak espanol well? Housing Secretary Julian Castro and his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, both friends of mine. You could bet Halperin would never put those questions to the Castros because, as Democrats, they’re assumed to be closer to the masses than Cruz is.
Naturally, because they can’t defend Halperin, the elite media has gone into bunker mode on the matter — pretending it didn’t happen, hoping that if they ignore Halperin’s racism it will be forgotten until it can be made useful again.
This morning Halperin was back enjoying his usual role as an NBC News elder statesman on MSNBC, and it’s business as usual at Bloomberg.
Halperin, who has a tight (and now questionable) relationship with the corporate welfare queens at HBO, has already sold the movie version of his interview with Cruz to HBO.
Here’s a sneak peek:
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC