“Bill O’Reilly is Number 1, Why?”

There is a longtime friend of mine, national columnist Ruben Navarrette, who writes for the Washington Post Writers group and CNN among many venues, has stirred the pot again by charging cable networks MSNBC and CNN of falling short on producing legitimate commentators on Hispanic/Latino issues.
He did so on a new conservative cable news network and has raised so much furor Fox’s Bill O’Reilly used Ruben’s statement on his Fox News Channel program by showing the comment and praising Navarrette for his courage in calling out MSNBC and CNN for putting faux-commentators on their networks who claim to know something about Hispanics/Latinos. Further he suggested that Hispanics or Latinos are not allowed to comment on MSNBC or CNN.
One is reminded how Whoopie Goldberg, who earned an Academy Award for her acting and at one point was the highest paid actress in history, took her “The View” co-host, Rosie O’Donnell, to school on whether or not white Rosie O’Donnell knew anything about being Black, or being raised Black.
O’Donnell claimed she knew what it was like to be Black because she has adopted a Black child. Whoopie made no effort to hide her disdain for O’Donnell’s ridiculous claim.
Whoopie made it clear that she knew what it was like to be Black because she is Black.
Whoopie is right, so is Ruben for criticizing the various networks for cheating their viewers by having truly-uninformed non-Hispanics on their commentary programs making stupid observations on issues regarding the Hispanic/Latino community that only the community members can truthfully state.
This does not mean that every Hispanic can comment intelligently on a specific issue of a specific Hispanic sub-group or that they can even try.
For example, I can comment on certain basic Hispanic/Latino characteristics or views or experiences. Why? Because there are certain core views and experiences that I – as a Mexican American born in Mexico raised in the United States of America — share with Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Hondurans and Chileans et al.
But I can’t comment on what it is like to be a Cuban dissident who has rotted in a Castro jail, tortured or watched his family mistreated for political views that are contrary to the Castro dictatorship’s evil mishandling of freedom-seeking Cubans. I can’t because none of my experiences as an individual or as an Mexican American begin to remotely resemble that of many Miami Cubans.
Can I talk with any authority of the experiences of small village Mexicans in western and southern Mexico have had in their running fight with drug cartels? No. Nor can they comment on the struggle of California Mexican American, or Nevada, or Chicago Mexican Americans not graduating from high school because most of those drug cartel- bothered people probably have not gone past the 6th grade.
Can I comment on problems of the Bronx Puerto Ricans? No. Sure I can look up statistics of Puerto Rican and Dominican teenaged unmarried girls who have had babies while in high school but when I find that that rate in the Bronx is almost twice the national average, I can’t explain it or even come close to explaining the whys and wherefores of that disparity in statistics.
Can I watch and listen to Panama-born Juan Williams a Fox News Channel comment on Hispanic issues of voting turnouts in East Los Angeles, I can but his comments on that subject wouldn’t be worth much.
Can Ruben Navarrette comment on the field workers of California Central Valley Mexican agricultural workers? Yes because he worked in a tomato processing plant as a kid; I picked avocados, raised chickens, picked plums and took care of an orchard with over a hundred fruit bearing trees.
Am I an expert of California farm workers, 95% of which are Mexican-born like me? No, but any observations that I might make might be more valuable than that of a New York City liberal non-Hispanic white lawyer. Ditto if Ruben is asked to comment on the subject. If only those networks did their due diligence and found real people to comment on Hispanic/Latino issues.
Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has done his due diligence and has had Ruben and me on his program discussing, sometimes debating other Hispanics on issues of the day; if only the other networks did the same, the American people would be so-much better off and informed than they are today.

Contreras formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times