Jeff Jacoby highlights to contortions that politically correct textbook publishers and their critics go through to present a “diverse” picture of the people seen in their books. Where they end up is in the heartland of hypocrisy.
At issue is Houghton Mifflin and the revelation that some of the handicapped kids in their grade school texts are in fact able-bodied kids posed in wheelchairs. (Never mind that every kid in the photos is in some way artificially posed.) Apparently the modeling agency has a hard time finding handicapped kids for the photos.
Faked photos of handicapped kids are just one of the ways in which truth is sacrificed on the altar of diversity. The cofounder of PhotoEdit Inc., a commercial archive that specializes in pictures of what it calls “ethnic and minority people in all walks of life,” advises publishers that images of Chicanos can be passed off as American Indians from the Southwest, because they “look very similar.” Similarly, Golden notes, a textbook photographer tells clients that since the “facial features” of some Asians resemble Indians from Mexico, “there are some times where you can flip-flop.”
Yet pictures of authentic Hispanics who happen to have blond hair or blue eyes don’t count toward the Hispanic quota “because their background would not be apparent to readers.” In other words, rather than expose schoolchildren to the fact that “Hispanic” is an artificial classification that encompasses people of every color, publishers promote the fiction that all Hispanics look the same—and that looks, not language or lineage, are the essence of Hispanic identity.
Yet we have ended up right where Martin Luther King’s dream was supposed to save us from: We still judge one another not on the content of our character, but on the color of our skin. But this time it’s the liberal defenders of minority victimhood who are engaging in racist and other stereotypes.