Liberalism’s Latinx Problem

Nov 05, 2019 · 626 comments
Chuckles (NJ)
Trump panders to the tiny few Cubans left in Miami by re-imposing ineffective, unnecessary sanctions on Havana. Have not heard a peep from the right side of the Times oped page on the matter. Warren uses a term Progressive Latino-heritage activists LOVE but one that has essentially zero policy importance associated with it, and it is immediately criticized for pandering, but also given as another easy excuse for fellow right Never-unless-the-Dems-pick-someone-I-don’t-like Trumpers to vote against the sane, institutionalist Democrat. Bravo.
Isaac (Hemet, CA)
There's a campy movie called Incubus starring William Shatner and filmed entirety in Esperanto. Who wouldn't want to to un-Babel the world? Who wouldn't want to neuter their food, clothing or house? Yo. I love that both liberty and lettuce are feminine in Spanish and that that concept has no standing in English at all. Life is supposed to be different, movement and change - to un-Babel would put the genie back in the bottle and turn sincerity into a servant for seriousness. Please please please say I will soon get to watch a campy movie called Succubus starring William Shatner and filmed entirety in LatinX.
PED (McLean, VA)
Commenters who critizice the questioning of Warren's use of Latinx while letting Trump's racism off the hook miss Douthat's point. He, too, despises what Trump stands for and wishes to see his defeat next year as much as any liberal/progressive Democrat. Right or wrong, he fears Latinx usage could lead to Trump's reelection.
Alan (NYC)
Why not "Latin"? It sounds like English, and is an actual, meaningful word. It's non-gendered. It applies to Brazilians and, if they like, French Canadians and Cajuns, too. (Uh, oh. Must we include European Romance speakers, too? Getting awfully inclusive here. Sorry.) It worked for "Latin America". (Again, Cajuns and Canadians are optionally included, a son gout.) Generally though, it's a good idea to avoid labels. They offer little clarity and invite problems. Circumlocute if you must -- it'll show off your creative ability and display your ear for language. Of course, this advice is only for intelligent people, not those who run for office. Office seekers should use labels just like their deplorable constituents. (How did we end up pledging to the flag and, as if by afterthought, the republic it stands for? How did nobody ever call out the author on this? Hoi polloi apparently prefers labels to actual thinking -- and look where it gets us.)
Takashi Yogi (Garden Valley, CA)
I spent 2 months with the American Indian Movement walk across America and never heard them describe themselves as Native Americans, a term probably invented by white academia. Similarly, it is patronizing to refer to people by a name that they would not use for themselves.
Lo C (New York)
And why does Ross Douthat feel entitled to opine? White conservative male privilege? I am Latinx and as many have said, I think Elizabeth Warren is using the best and most inclusive term we have right now. Liberalism does not have a Latinx Problem. Conservatives have a racist problem. We are part of this country and here to stay. Get over it.
guillermo (lake placid)
Is this really "a thing". Ross, there's a lot more meaningful material out there.
targetsea (Hong Kong)
"Americans" works well and is gender neutral.
Eric (Seattle)
"the increasingly ideological character of the Democratic Party could create a policy problem..." Yeah, for sure, that's got to be the problem with America today!
Lawyermom (Washington DCt)
I hadn’t realized that Latinx was not in common usage. My relatives prefer to call themselves Dominican American, not Hispanic. And this, I think, is part of what causes the anti-PC backlash: a sense that no matter hard one may try to be respectful, the rules are always changing. In my lifetime, I learned first to speak of “colored” people, then “Negroes” (not the other N word which decent people knew was a slur), then Blacks, then African-Americans. Now, the non-white are “people of color”. And don’t call me “cis”, because I may think you’re calling me “Sis”. Two women have the right to call me that due to our common parentage, and no one else.
mlwarren54 (tx)
Ross you're in a rut. Nearly all your columns are SOSDD. Rather than criticizing Democrat's plans, explain what Republicans propose to do. If such plans exist.
gratis (Colorado)
Why doesn't Ross write about something he knows something about, like how wonderful movement conservatism is? Or better, what conservatives are calling Latinos... the version suitable for publishing, not the one they always use.
Plato (CT)
Ha ! A conservative commentator so frustrated with the state of conservatism in the country that he now thinks it necessary to dredge up rubbish to generate umbrage and create false equivalency. Isn't the energy better spent trying to counsel your fellow conservatives on why it is immoral, unethical and, in the long run, impractical to cozy up to a corrupt and crooked thug ?
JPH (USA)
French , Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Romanians, are Latinx . Sorry if we were the colons at one time ( our kings and churches ) , but we are with you now. Definitely. We cook and eat your tomatoes, your beans, your potatoes, your squash, your pimentos, your vanilla, your chocolate, our chicken eat your corn, You are the salt of the earth. We ow you everything.
Helvius (NJ)
My kid (Anglo-Latin-X) has used this term in his college papers this year, as per his profs' instructions. Why not? I agree with those who respect every group's right to name themselves.
PJF (Seattle)
I'm very progressive politically and admire Warren's plans. I graduated Harvard. But I also worked as a truck driver and dock worker for five years, was a commercial fisherman, and stood alongside Latino immigrants on street corners waiting for day labor. Maybe I have an unusual perspective: Ross Douthat is right. So is David Leonhardt. Democrats are clueless. Unless they moderate their positions and language, we will have Trump for another four years as the world burns. Further, Democrats like Tom Steyer should use their billions to flood Facebook with powerful, microtargeted ads, starting now. We are in a war for the future of our world.
PJF (Seattle)
I’m very progressive. I would prefer Warren’s plans overall. I went to Harvard. But I also worked as a truck driver and dock worker for five years, was a commercial fisherman and stood alongside Latino day laborers waiting for work on street corners. And I agree with Ross. Democrats are clueless and unless they moderate
Daniel Lehrman (NYC)
What a superbly presented argument. Thank you.
CMA (Los angeles)
I first saw and heard this term at a Harvard graduation ceremony. Many Hispanic graduates of both the college and graduate school wore scarves with Latinx embroidered on them. I really think this is a generational issue. If this is the best Mr. Douthat can do, we know that this conservative opinion writer is running out of anything worthwhile to say.
ck (San Jose)
I know many Latinx people who use the label, mostly young people. Just because you don't know any of them, Ross, doesn't mean they aren't out there.
B. Pilgrim (Columbus, OH)
Maybe just "Latins." Sounds more like an English word,
Richard (Orange County)
Glad you brought this up, most Latinos find the Latinx term confusing and insulting.
Art Carlson (Tivoli NY)
I think if people want to call themselves Latinx thats fine. What I dont like is that it has become the default term for Latin People. When was that decided? I missed that meeting. Do we get shamed now for not using it?
chambolle (Bainbridge Island)
California is in flames. The President of the United States has mounted a full-on war against Congress, the Constitution and the rule of law. And Ross Douthat is blithering and blathering about semantics and lexicography — kinda sorta like debating how many angels dance on the head of a pin. Is this just a Catholic thing, or did he mistakenly believe it’s a slow news day?
December (Concord, NH)
Ross, you don't have enough to do. All you do is carp about liberals, down to the most petty and inane complaints. Do you have anything constructive to offer?
SPQA (nyc)
"Latinx" is similar to the neologism, "folx". Unnecessary at best, it signals progressive white elitism. This is why we can't have nice things and Trump will win in 2020.
Yuri Asian (Bay Area)
More accurately, Douthat has a Latinx problem to pair with his Liberalism problem.
Gabe (San Francisco)
"...white people whining that they don’t get to say the “N-word.” I have never in my life heard a white person whining because they wanted to say the N-word but couldn't. Have you Ross? Has anyone? The people who want to use use it, do. And those who don't use it, don't want to. Let's keep it real.
john (italy)
"... centering gender neutrality or nonbinariness in place of a cisgender heteronormativity." That's a fabulous phrase. I'll have to memorize it, but can't tell for certain whether Douthat intends it to be expository or witty - perhaps a little of both. Anyway, all this correctness is really getting boring and doesn't change anything for the better. Washington's Vietnam Memorial designer, Maya Lin, an Asian-American, referred to herself in a TV special as a "little Gook" and nobody had a heart attack.
jfutral (Atlanta)
And yet castigating everyone from Latin Americans as rapists, murders, criminals, invaders, animals; tearing families apart, calling people who assault Mexicans as simply "passionate"—nothing wrong with that, huh? Yet "LatinX", "OMG! PC run amuck! What is this country coming to?" Give me a break. Joe
Old Hominid (California)
I've had it with Bruni, Douthat and Stephens and their constant criticisms of Warren. She's an excellent candidate But as the NYT seems to have stopped publishing my comments, I doubt this one will appear in print.
kim (nyc)
Could be worse. Jesse Jackson took it up on himself in the late 80s to tell the NYT that blacks are now African Americans. No one from the black community voted for or elected him as spokesperson for all the people, but, here we are African Americans.
gratis (Colorado)
What term do Conservatives use? I mean the one fit for publication.
Ray Evans Harrell (New York City)
Are you Hispanic? Perhaps you are strategically a Trumpie? Perhaps you have another agenda for your Hispanic friends or maybe you just need to get down to work and come up with some real alternatives to the Tory Parliamentary system you seem to long for. This America and the system is different. You should help protect it from people like Trump, not be smarmy in your embarrassment.
Seraficus (New York NY)
Latinx is unfortunate all around, and the gender-fixers should have waited for a term to bubble up from the Spanish-speaking progressive community. Until then it is really not so hard to do what we've learned to do with "her or his" and just say "Latinas and Latinos" when we need to describe the whole group. For the generic singular, a much less tortured invention would be simply "latín." It still leaves the problem of the definite and indefinite articles when speaking Spanish, but guess what, nobody not employed by a university uses "latinx" when speaking Spanish.
sleepdoc (Wildwood, MO)
For once I agree with Ross on this one, not so much about the relatively trivial latinx issue but about the utter stupidity of the Warren and also Sanders proposals on how to finance/provide universal health care. Their ideas scare the bejesus out of not just Hispanics but almost everyone who has employment based insurance, which, whatever it's many deficiencies (and there are too many to count), is the devil they know. Should Sanders or, more likely, Warren ride her unrealistic proposal to the nomination, Trump will beat her in a way that he will be right (for once) to call a landslide.
Ricardo (Stamford)
This is another example of how elitist and disconnected from reality progressives are, specially Elizabeth Warren, the know everything professor.
Andrew Arato (New York)
You are so right. What you describe is totally painful. PC is a plague! It might help re-elect Trump, who is an enemy of freedom altogether. What a paradox.
SB (SF)
'Latinx' - If pronounced using the standard rules of English pronunciation, it comes out like 'la tinks' (Bronx, Lynx, Spanx, larynx). And in Spanish, it's unpronounceable. A different term is needed.
BearBoy (St Paul, MN)
How about Mexican for Mexicans, and Central Americans for Central Americans? That covers most of them.
David (Kirkland)
It's a virtue signaling form of mind control, telling Hispanics that their language is evil because they confuse gender in languages (nouns/verbs) with sex, like how so many pretend human gender is unrelated to sex.
Consuelo (Texas)
@David Who says that Hispanics " confuse" gender in language ? Most nouns in Spanish are either feminine ( la) or masculine (el). Examples: la cocina-the kitchen, el garaje-the garage. No one is confused; there are grammatical rules. Verbs are used the way we use verbs in English; that is verbs are gender neutral. One says: " he sings and she sings" ; "el canta, ella canta" or "she lives and he lives ": " ella vive and el vive". The verb is used in the same form for either sex. It is true that Spanish is a Romance language and does have a charming sense that many things have a sex, not just animals and people. Perhaps this is what you mean? I don't think anyone is attempting mind control by proposing a term such as Latinx although I agree that mostly only academics and college students are the current users.
Sipa111 (Seattle)
So far every self-described Latino commentator seems to abhor the term LatinX. Can we just drop it already...and YES, the extreme political correctness is going too far and Warren needs to stop pandering to the idiotLeft. She is much to intelligent to be pigeon hold into self-serving PC boxes that no one else cares about.
Mathias (USA)
What I remember about Trump is him holding a child of a family murdered by his hate filled rhetoric that has white nationalists mobilized around him. While he gives a thumbs up. I bet they loved it, don’t you think so too?
RB (Albany, NY)
The problem? Classic case of white liberals worrying too much about things minorities don't actually worry about. The worst part is this is causing people to reject the otherwise good policies promoted by liberal politicians
BearBoy (St Paul, MN)
Like what? Open borders or confiscation of my private health insurance?
Class Enemy (United States)
The “white saviors of America” have done it again ! After successfully solving the problems of African-Americans by introducing the notions of “woke” and vigorously pouring scorn on “whiteness”, they have tackled the problems that Latinos faced in this country by introducing the term that my spell checker wants to change to Larinx !
bruno (caracas)
Yes using the the term LatinX is the same as saying something stupid about Tacos on top of the other racists comments and policy actions. Really....?
Sean (Ft Lee. N.J.)
Caucasian, Negro: detached geographical/scientifically labeled. Yet latter usage socially taboo. Why?
Petra Lopez (Colorado)
Ross Douthat, STOP appropriating our wishes and preferences! Now you'll pretend you know what Latinos want? Instead of trying to use Latinos to bash Warren and put her down, inform yourself with real data: First, Latinos like Warren; same as many other new mainstream Americans, so get over it! Second, Latino Millennial and GenZs are almost 25% of all potential voters next election, SO START WRITING ABOUT THEM, and do so in a sophisticated way: Latinos have a high upward mobility and 92% of all highschool graduates enroll in college. Third, do you really think we are so stupid as to let you sway our vote with this bad article? Go Warner!
BearBoy (St Paul, MN)
Which team is Kurt playing for these days?
goldenboy (blacksburg)
Let's see: Trump separating 4,500 Latin American children from their parents, and throwing them into concentration-camp cages is a non issue, but using the term LatinX rather than Latino is unconscionable.
Sean (Ft Lee. N.J.)
Stanley Crouch preferring “negro” self labeling.
Dave (San Francisco, CA)
Ah yes, a white guy, with the intention of speaking to a white audience and a white candidate, acting like he represents the latinx community. There’s definitely a certain community whose voice SHOULD be valued in a conversation like this. But it appears that some old white bro has decided its his turn to talk instead, and NY Times went for it. New York Times, you can do better.
Paul (Phoenix, AZ)
This is about as lame as the recent George Will column complaining about the fact that in the very exciting World Series between Houston and Washington, a couple of batters ran to first base without first dropping their bats at home plate. The noted Latino journalist Jose Balart, anchor for Telemundo, used this very term when questioning Democratic candidates in the last debate. Hey, Ross, if this is all you conservatives have to complain about liberalism, then what we need is more, not less, liberalism.
karp (NC)
Douthat complains that much of Warren's audience isn't familiar with the term 'Latinx.' This... appears to be a problem that quickly solves itself, right? Warren's audience will become familiar with the term because they hear people like Warren use it. That's how that works. For the social conservative Douthat to discuss this term without centering it on his aversion to and contempt for the nonbinary and genderqueer identities it was created to accommodate is so grossly dishonest as to be insulting.
Steve (Seattle)
This seems to me much ado about nothing.
Richard Head (Mill Valley Ca)
I like Warren, she's smart and her ideas are whats needed. However, it seem that thats not enough. Like it or not it seems that important areas are not ready for her. They want back to normal and are afraid of too big a change. They want a Biden, father type who is calm and likable and goes along with the flow. They are afraid of any women, they are not ready for a woman President. Middle of the road is what they want.
lfr (Chicago, il)
As an older immigrant and native Spanish speaker, I hate the term Latinx with the fury of a thousand suns.
Asher (Brooklyn)
I'm someone of Spanish heritage and I find the term Latinx insulting and weird.
Martin (Chicago)
Contrast this opinion piece with today's "The Online Cacophony of Hate Against Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib " And this is what Douthat thinks is important?
Jeff Koopersmith (New York City)
It might be an interesting idea for idiots to simply use the term Latin - than Latinx which sounds more like a cat breed than a human being. Do anglo Americans call themselves menx or womanx? Latinx is an insult to the very language upon which many others are based and one of the oldest historical languages on Earth. What a ridiculous jab at Warren - and no, I don't support her.
Ashley (vermont)
@Jeff Koopersmith there are some that use the term womyn rather than women or woman. i find it a bit much but its in response to the word woman/women being based off the word man/men.
Roger (California)
Love it when Ross tells me what liberal's problems are. His concern, so touching.
Expat (Spain)
A good reason Dems lose elections. There are no Latinos, there are Dominicans, Cubans, etc. This is why we can't carry Florida.
Ryan (New York)
A word of advice for readers: If you find yourself agreeing in any meaningful way with Ross Douthat, that is clear indication that it is time to reassess your position.
alex (Princeton nj)
No Democratic candidate will lose Democratic voters by saying"Latinx." But the election could be tipped by the number of young people attracted to and impressed by a candidate's embrace of the word. Here ya' go, Ross: "OK, Gen Xer!" Maybe you don't know that before you were born the centrist southern Democrat Jimmy Carter became President in part because he said "black" instead of "nigra."
Prof Emeritus NYC (NYC)
Please - let Warren continue to embarrass herself with this cheap and silly pandering. We need her to self-immolate before too long.
Aaron Lawson (San Jose)
Despite the goofball title and reflexive need to to use 'liberalism' constantly, as if it were some kind of monolithic group of card-carrying members (he should just use the term "the 90% of the world's population that I disagree with", which is what he really means), this article has an actual point (for a change). Academics often come up with convoluted or otherwise weird terms for minority group, generally with good intentions, and it's hard for non-minorities to know whether to use them. As a member of a group that Ross also hates (he would probably claim that his religion forces him to do this), the gays, I find it funny when people use the word "queer", which is not usually what I hear real gay, lesbian or other groups included in the "queer" category call themselves. That being said, I certainly don't find it insulting in any way and it is invariably used by well-meaning people, especially academics. I last heard it used as an actual slur in the 90's, when I was told that there is no pace for queers in the military. I imagine the word "Latinx" is even goofier and weirder, since this is a word that looks like it wasn't even meant to be said (unlike queer, an appropriated slur). I find it funny that Ross Douthat cares about this stuff at all, and it does seem like a case of pointing out a speck in Liz's eye when you have a coastal redwood sticking out of your own. Something tells me Jesus would rather you focus your scribblings helping Xs in cages than mocking her.
JK in ATL (Atlanta)
That’s great, Ross. Please continue to lecture minorities on how they should refer to themselves. Perhaps you can explain to black folks that they should stop using “African-American” because it, too, originated in academia.
Tulipano (Attleboro, MA)
Ross Douthat is reverting to attacking democrats for silly things rather than address the monster reigning over us all. I'd like to sit Ross down and ask him, "do believe DJT is a Christian?" and "what Christian values and 'family values' do you admire in him?" I think Ross would not have an answer or would demur. What a terrible waste of ink and columns he represents while he fritters away an opportunity to address the real problems people face.
BearBoy (St Paul, MN)
Latinix, LatinX or Latino? How silly it is to be woke. I think I will save myself the confusion and just vote for the President.
Wherever Hugo (There, UR)
The basic mindset of the American Liberal pervades throughout the NYTs readership. There is a basic assumption that the entire world has a "right" to immigrate to America.......AND retain all those cultural values that are destroying the society they just escaped from!! ... This is the entire basis of the "Diversity" Goal now embedded in our Political System. I am still not sure I understand why Diversity must be retained at all costs, everything else can be sacrificed in the name of Diversity. .... All this Diversity emphasis from two generations of Americans raised by people who enthusiasticly immigrated to America in hopes of abandonning everything about the old world, refusing to allow their children to speak in foreign languages, do everything possible to "become American". home of the brave,,,,land of the Free. Learn. Obey the Laws. Work hard...Become part of the American System. .... Today the descendents of that Ellis Island Generation MOCK their own heritage......insisting on re-discovering "lost roots" and reinforcing value systems that tear apart the True Roots of the American Way of Life.
DE Independent (Wilmington, DE)
Democrats in general, and Elizabeth Warren in particular, do not need any advice from this modern day Torquemada, who wouldn't really support the election of any Democrat who isn't a DINO conservative. Douthat should stick to advising his Republican buddies instead of splitting linguistic hairs pretending to care about the opposition.
Ted (NYC)
So big of Douthat to worry his head about how the dems are going to win. Bless his heart.
Enrique Hernandez (Pohatcong NJ)
Latinx, intolerable!. That's it . I have no choice but to vote for Trump.
AMinNC (NC)
The Republican Party is literally caging Latinx children (killing some of them in the process, orphaning many others); is deporting Dreamers and long-time residents with no criminal histories; and makes verbal attacks on these people on an almost daily basis. But please, let's spend an entire column in what used to be America's most prestigious media property bemoaning the use of an "overly progressive" vocabulary word by a Democrat. Your repeated attempts to paint everyone as equally alienating/corrupt/stupid, even though they are demonstrably not just helps the truly alienating, corrupt, and stupid people win, Ross. How is it you still don't know this? Or maybe you do see the difference, but keeping your job depends on blurring these lines. Whether you're blind or corrupt yourself, I don't know, but either way it's failing the readers of the Times, and failing your country.
Foster Furcolo (Massachusetts)
Lotta people in the comments are defending "Latinx". But these are the elites!
Kyle (Denver)
I wonder if the approval rating of the term "Latinx" is even at 50% among Latinos? I doubt it.
Kenji (NY)
Republican racists are now coaching Obama-coalition Democrats on how to speak properly on matters of race and ethnicity? That's rich! Mr. Douthat true colors are on further display in his subtly-coded enjoyment of the N-word, which history will note was buried by the NAACP and which is neither appealing nor correct for anyone to use. Shame on you, Mr. Douthat, but as a step forward I would exhort you to rewrite that particulalry egregious sentence as follows. (Hint: no scare quotes or ironic quotes should be placed around the relevant word contraction.) "White people whining that they cannot say the N-word shows clealry how mainstream American white supremacy ignores both history and decency." Now, really, isn't that much better?
Thomas Zaslavsky (Binghamton, N.Y.)
I'm so pleased to see Ross Douthat repeating his usual tropes against Democrats. Some things in this unstable world remain the same!
Joseph (Norway)
Latinx is not just an idiotic word, is a perfect example of American cultural imperialism. You don't want to follow the O/A rule in Spanish? Ok, then use an E, maybe an I, but choose a vowel, not a consonant!
Joanne Bartsch (Asheville NC)
Seriously? This is the best you’ve got? Donald Trump is tearing your party and the whole idea of conservatism to shreds and this is your response?
Andrew (MA)
Why is Ross Douthat spilling ink on something so trivial? Why isn’t he writing about health care or financial regulatory reform? My suspicion is this: it’s much easier for conservatives to wail about “Pocahontas” or “identity politics” rather than try to defend conservatives policies on the merits.
GJR (NY NY)
Language is in constant evolution folks. From what I understand “Latinx” is a gender-free term as an alternative to the masculine Latino or feminine Latina. What is the harm in wanting to be identified as Latinx? That Warren uses this word only shows she cares about inclusiveness. There’s no real controversy here except Douthat running out of edgy things to write about.
James (St. Paul, MN.)
The vast majority of American voters never heard this term which Douthat considers a problem, so I doubt that this will become a major turning point in the electoral results. However, Douthat inadvertently identified a more insidious problem facing the Democratic leadership in 2020. As long as Democratic policy makers allow pundits like Douthat to describe the party's focus on identity politics over basic voter needs (jobs, health care, infrastructure renewal, education, tax reform, ending all-war-all-the-time foreign policy), the Democratic party is in serious trouble. Get back to the core values of Democratic policy and stop the identity politics madness.....
Hector (St. Paul, MN)
As a Latin American liberal, I detest the term latinx. Also, the “latin” root implies the addition of Iberians, Italians, French and Romanians, all good company if not excessive. For a neutral term to identify someone from a western country with Iberian roots, why not use the normal singular and plural forms? He is a Latin American, as is she, but they are all Latin Americans, and all Latin Americans — or latinoamericanos, if you prefer — of all genders, plants and animals included, are one of these, from here to Tierra del Fuego, whether they like it or not. No need to complicate things with an algebraic unknown. After all, I don't think anybody in the U.S. wants to be called Americanx.
sm (new york)
Why must White Americans have the need to label the non-lily white ? Latinx as well as any other labeling distinction of Americans is an insult ; that goes for native Americans that should insist on being called the True Americans if needed . Italian descendants should be the true Latinx as their language was truly Latin ; why label anyone one from a Spanish speaking country referred to Latino or Latinx . Too much PC mucks up with distinctions what should be natural when we are all Americans .
Robert (Seattle)
Blue ribbon, gold stars, for this: "If you are deep inside progressive discourse, you will immediately understand those purposes — 'dismantling the default masculine' of romance languages, centering gender neutrality or nonbinariness in place of a cisgender heteronormativity." In the future, we will all be able to talk like that, but Ross? He do it now.
Paul Stokes (Corrales, NM)
This article could be shortened to "When writing about Latinos or Latinas, you can use the word Latinx. When speaking about them, either say Latinas and Latinos, or say Latinos."
Just Ben (Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico)
Everything you say may be on target. The nagging question is how important it is. How much does it matter that Senator Warren uses that awkward, even gauche, possibly even foolish expression? Are there other elements of her character or candidacy that might be more protitable to examine? Senator Warren is far from perfect, both as a person and as a candidate. She has stumbled in her campaign before, and you may have put your finger on a new imperfection. But what matters is what kind of president she would be, and this seems to say little about that. Further, compared to well-known shortcomings/failings/drawbacks of her main rivals, Senator Sanders, former Vice President Biden, and Mayor Buttigieg, it doesn't seem like such a big deal--does it?
my2cents (USA)
To paraphrase a popular saying,"If you don't have something important to write about, don't write anything at all."
Steve Stevenson (Brooklyn)
If you want to make that argument against the use of that term that’s fine and if you have a substantive argument against Medicare for all that’s fine too. However his policy critique is not at all substantive and possibly wrong all together and the real issue is the insane conflation between that and using Latinx. Goes to show how far those with no issue paying for health care will go to keep their taxes low so the rest of us can continue to get shafted.
Frank Knarf (Idaho)
Ross is suggesting that Latinos, or Latinx or whatever term one uses to refer to them are so stupid that they would vote for Trump in the 2020 election. We shall see. As well, "the increasingly ideological character of the Democratic Party" is a pretty comical trope when compared to the contemporary Republican party's drift into neo-fascism. One can imagine his religious and political ancestors apologizing for Franco and his Catholic, fascist movement.
Roland Berger (Magog, Québec, Canada)
Latin-X is Elizabeth name for Hispanics going with her in her battle for presidency. A risky twist that could be very fruitful
Tony (LOS ANGELES)
This column is a whole lot of nothing. No Latino (myself included) will care that Warren uses Latinx to describe us, not in the face of the racist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant Trump. We're not idiots. We can determine the clear difference between Trump and any Democrat running for President. This hyperventilating about a term that academics and activists use (a lot, in fact) is a wasted exercise in moderate conservative panic.
Blanche White (South Carolina)
This article has made my head hurt. Latino or Hispanic - Just People ..... No imaginative words necessary. Boy or Girl - Just People ...No imaginative words necessary if boy wants to be girl or girl wants to be boy. No special pronouns ... Just people. Be tolerant .... stop namecalling ...stop creating names. Accept people as who they want to be. If that boy wants to wear a skirt then ok. It's boy's choice. People who are outside the norms don't deserve any special consideration...just acceptance. It's not up to us to figure them out unless they're psychopaths.
garrett (chicago)
It may be liberalism's problem, but it doesn't seem to be Bernie Sander's problem.
Kurfco (California)
Wow, look where we find ourselves! Who would have thought that whether or not to use "latinx" would become the subject of a full length essay? Are we worried about this in Spanish because we have such a large population? Has anyone come up with versions yet for French and Italian and, and, and? Modest proposal: Cubanx. Hispanx. Italianx. Francaix. Is there any similar sort of gender issue in Tagalog, Vietnamese, Hindi, Mandarin, etc. or is it limited to Romance languages?
Lost In America (Illinois)
It has connotations beyond heritage Be very careful using that word
Lefthalfbach (Philadelphia)
@Lost In America Absolutely correct.
Rich (mn)
The problem comes with the fact that there is more than one Latinx/Hispanic community and the majority culture wants to simplify things by lumping them together. Julian Castro uses the word Latinx, but he is also a Chicano from San Antonio which is different from a Dominican in NY, or a white Cuban in Miami. In the '70s young Chicanos supported the idea of a Mexican-American homeland called Aztlan and embraced their mixed indigenous and Spanish ancestry as they saw that due to racism they were being assimilate into mainstream Anglo society.
Old Hominid (California)
There once was a woman called Warren In voting for her I'm not torn But Douthat and Bruni Their op-eds are looney The writing is getting quite boring.
gpickard (Luxembourg)
@Old Hominid Dear Old Hominid, I liked the limerick, but "boring" and "Warren" is really stretching it. :)
Kyle Gann (Germantown, NY)
"[O]ften the language of P.C. has more to do with imposing elite norms of discourse on a wider population that neither necessarily wants them nor fully understands their purpose." Glory be, for once I completely agree with Ross Douthat.
Anonymous (United States)
Hispanic is correct. Not all Hispanics originate from Latin America. So Warren’s term is one of exclusion, not inclusion. Same for others who use that term.
TMSquared (Santa Rosa CA)
The President of the United States, in lockstep with the leadership of the Republican party, are striving to overthrow the rule of law, dismissing its defenders as "Obama" men or women, or as "never-Trumpers"; their goal is one-party authoritarian rule on the model of Putin's Russia. This existential threat is becoming clearer every day. Thank God we have Ross Douthat to concern-troll Elizabeth Warren's diction. It's critical work, and somebody's got to do it, especially when so many other pundits have drifted off lazily to spend time with the impending collapse of the Republic.
Zee (Albuquerque)
"Why is Elizabeth Warren describing Latinos with a term that few would use themselves?" Because she needs to prove her "wokeness" credentials to her fellow progressives. No one else uses the term, or even cares.
PL (ny)
Wokeness run amok. Ok, so it Latin-X or Latinx, like Latino, only replacing the o with x? I've hear the apparently wrongly pronounced Latin-X said by most of the spanish-speaking PC POC commentators on tv. The new term just another way of playing cultural gotcha with Anglos. Tell you what: I'm going back to the old gender-neutral, impossible to mispronounce, and totally discredited Hispanic.
Carlos CastaNeda (Davis Ca)
I find that most people that are complaining about a new box (to define them)are not upset of them being placed in a box that they did not choose. Have you thought where the Latin box came from? It originated from the fact that “Latinoamericanos” ( name that we call ourselves ) can not be called Latinoamerican American, that will be twice Americans and this can not be tolerated by the “true americans” which decided to take the american from the latinoamerican and call us latins ( by the way where do you leave the true latins from Europe leaving in the USA)
J (Chicago)
Man, really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Mr. Douthat seems to want to write about anything—anything—to do with the 2020 election other than corruption, the way Big Money rules Congress, our regulating bodies, and the White House. Even though that's the biggest issue on voters' minds. That is why this entire column focuses on Warren's use of a single word. Is it really "leftward" or "left-wing" or "extreme" to simply want our politicians to stop trading political favors for campaign donations (or "speaking fees") or K street jobs? Would it not be "conservative" to oppose this selfish, virtue-less, eyebrow-raising, undemocratic self-dealing—all while people across the country are sleeping in the streets and going bankrupt from medical bills? The blatant corruption that has taken over our government and elections? Corporate pundits continue to point out mosquito bites like the use of "Latinx" on our body politic as it lays dying of the cancer that is greed. It would be so refreshing to see a MSM conservative (someone who isn't a paid shill like Tucker Carlson) virtue signal about the actual problem, but I won't hold my breath.
Tim (Rural Georgia)
@J This is a great observation J. When the Hunter Biden situation;(serving on the board of a company in an industry he knows absolutely nothing about) is considered business as usual in Washington we know our political class is corrupt to the core. BOTH parties, Democrats and Republicans alike. They don't have to worry about their health insurance premiums or where/if their kids are going to be able to attend college, or how to live off of 40-50k per year or less (H Biden was paid 50K per MONTH). The rest of us? We are on our own.
No big deal (New Orleans)
"“dismantling the default masculine” of romance languages, centering gender neutrality or nonbinariness in place of a cisgender heteronormativity." This sort of ideological attack on the very essence of who we are as humans, as men and women, is abhorrent. Men and women are co-equals. But there are some, those from the fringe, who have to invent fringe nomenclature to describe their unnatural proclivities in order to make it appear "normative". The 98% of us who are happy with our gender and enjoy who we are feel pity for those who are so gender confused. Thus there is no need to adapt any new silly cling clangy branding or rebranding terminology of men and women.
ehr (md)
Oh, please. There are millions of Spanish-speakers who search for ways to stop erasing women through language. Languages evolve. Grammar rules evolve. I bet a lot of the people swooning in the comments over how dare they break grammar rules also frequently break them with "less" and "few" "me and my friends" "por" and "para" or whatever. It is not just academic. Just because people you know don't use latinx doesn't mean your experience is universal. Obviously many do. Personally, I can't stand the use of terms like "mankind." That doesn't mean that you couldn't find 1,000 women who are fine with it. Times change. Values change. Language changes. It is better to err on the side of inclusivity. Humankind is perfectly capable of embracing change.
David (Seattle)
Can we English speakers just say "Latin," since English adjectives don't require a gendered suffix?
Middleman MD (New York, NY)
"Hispanics (and African-Americans and Asians) now represent the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, the pocketbook-conscious, somewhat culturally conservative flank." C'mon, then I mean, clearly they are racist, homophobic and sexist. Look, it's trendy to bash Donald Trump for an assortment of reasons, many of them valid. But too many in the press, and in the DNC leadership seem to believe that their hatred for Trump is shared by African-Americans, Latinos, legal immigrants and gay men. Any of us who work or otherwise interact with members of these communities (particularly working class members of these communities) recognize that far more of them are either indifferent to Trump or actually approve of him.
As-I-Seeit (Albuquerque)
Stop nitpicking on the Democrats and compare their Pro American agenda to Trump's evil! How about an article highlighting how he treated his long-term illegal employees? Democrats may be overly politically correct but it is done out of a spirit of respect that is totally absent in Trump!
Julio (Las Vegas)
These efforts to to pigeon-hole people into specific racial and/or ethnic categories have always struck me as silly, regardless of what term is used.
JoeG (Houston)
This reminds me of some of the larger corporations I contracted with. Going through orientation the speaker usually a 20 something female from HR spoke in a unique jargon only understood by people who worked there for years on the upper floors of the establishment. She assured us we would eventually catch on. I never worked there but a good example would be accepting the slogan "We're on it". It sounds great in a meeting room but an outsider might ask what are you on? Drugs?
kirk (montana)
Why call them anything but Americans. After all, many of the central and South American immigrants are not Latin at all, but rather Indigenous just like the native Americans we massacred and Inuit that we 'bought' from Russia. We all have the same distant genetic background and the majority of us prefer to live in a civil society so why start putting us into groups that divide us? Maybe it is the unearned superiority that the white race seems to treasure in their dreams of conquest.
jumblegym (Longmont, CO)
Would somebody please explain to me why it's bad to attempt (however awkwardly) to not inadvertently offend someone?
David (California)
this article highlights the huge difference between Warren, the college professor, the lawyer, the Senator, the policy proposer, and her actual lack of credentials and experience to be the Chief Executive Officer of the USA, the Commander in Chief, the chief politician of America, the President of the United States of America. There is sometimes a huge difference between being a Senator with lots of ideas on the one hand, and the actual President of the USA.
Sarah (Chicago)
Comments here paint a dangerous picture for 2020. What use is Ross using his platform in the Times to denounce Trump or even modern conservatism? Nobody open to that message is reading here. By contrast, less liberal voices can remind us of how things are playing outside of the proverbial coastal bubble - and if not drive our candidates to moderate themselves, at least remind us that a good deal of people don't support our candidates, so we must remain disciplined about getting out the vote. The last thing we should be doing is chasing those voices away, huddling in self-assured comfort and waking up surprised to another post election nightmare.
Rose Anne (Chicago, IL)
Might it be like the acceptance of "they" for "he or she." Older people dislike it, but the young might embrace it.
Durhamite (NC)
Just because a few activists, academics and yes, "woke" white people, say this term is best because it's inclusive doesn't make it so. How is it inclusive to refer to people by a term that most in that group don't like or use themselves? It's just virtue signaling.
Bob K. (Monterey, CA)
What does the use of a bizarre, made-up word like Latinx signify when used by a candidate? Several things. First, it suggests separation of the candidate from a community where 98% do not identify with the word. In other words, an asymmetric dialog in which the candidate stands above her audience and delivers wisdom to those below. Another name for this is condescension. Second, although the use of Latinx is a minor thing in itself, it raises questions of what other narrowly-focused issue groups the candidate is enthralled to. In Warren's case, the answer seems to be all of them. Socially conservative Hispanics may take usage of the innocuous word as a sign of what is in store for them if Warren becomes President.
Debra Becker (Silver Spring, MD)
This column reminds me of one of the first dinner parties I attended as a very young newlywed. It was in Manhattan and there were several couples present --all Barnard College and Columbia College or Columbia Law School students or recent graduates. The heated discussion of the evening was between me and a couple of young men who insisted that the term "Ms." was ridiculous, unnecessary, and would never catch on. I still remember the sting of their disdain a half century later. One of the men went on to become a Federal Appellate judge. I hope his thinking evolved. :)
Global Charm (British Columbia)
I must be growing olde.
Emmanuel Goldstein (Oceania)
To me it always boils down to one principle: Call people by the term they want to be called.
Anonymous (United States)
@Emmanuel Goldstein: You can call me Supreme Commander of the Galaxy.
David Henry (Concord)
@Anonymous I like your satire because it's a silly issue overall. If this decides who one votes for, it's a superficial reason. Moreover, intent/context matters. If a term is used disparagingly, then that should be the issue, not semantics.
Paul (Buenos Aires)
@Emmanuel Goldstein I live in Latin America and I've never heard a single person refer to themselves as Latinx (they barely even call themselves Latino/a -- this is mainly an American convention.)
Simon Sez (Maryland)
Warren is a died in the wool leftie. She uses leftie speak and is so deluded that she believes that the rest of us are on board. She is too far left to win a general election and certainly not with the LatinX proletariat she says she loves. The workers of the world are not interested in being saved by these bloviators and shrill partisans with their my way or the high way. Warren will lose Iowa to Pete and go to well deserved defeat. The next debate will unmask her for the ideologue she is.
DazedAndAmazed (Oregon)
LatinX is a goofy term common in only the most rarified of academic/SJW echo chambers. It has nothing to do with Liberalism. The Democrats run a big tent. Warren's use of the word says more about who is more likely to vote in the Democratic primaries than anything else.
Eric (Buffalo)
Mr. Douthat writes well here, but he's making a mountain out of a non-problem.
Terry McKenna (Dover, N.J.)
Ross must have read the conservative press on this issue. I bet Ms. Warren, growing up in Oklahoma did not have any Puerto Rican neighbors or Mexicans either. That she gets her terms from academia is also no surprise. But I am curious what Hispanic voters think of her, not what the commentariat thinks.
Lili Nealon (New York, NY)
@Terry McKenna I was born in Argentina. I am an Argentine, not a Latinx or a Latin anything! I am Irish-Argentine and although there may be a long-ago connection to the Spanish armada, I doubt there is a drop of "latin" blood in my body. I have seen the word "latinx" used by intellectuals in Argentina and other places in Latin America. I despise labels. They lead to prejudice. Why not just say "Latin Americans". Is that not gender-neutral?
Rea Tarr (Malone, NY)
@Terry McKenna With your bet that Ms. Warren did not have any Puerto Rican or Mexican neighbors, we must assume that you do over there in New Jersey. So why don't you ask them what they think of her?
Jon (Miami)
@Terry McKenna I'm a Latino Warren supporter but her use of Latinx makes me cringe. So out of touch.
Aaron B (Austin, TX)
I identify as Latino, and use Latinx when describing *everyone*, as in the community at large, or someone whose gender I don't know. I hate the word 'hispanic' to describe myself and my family, but I also know folks who identify as hispanic, so that's what I use to describe them when speaking to or about them. If people can remember and pronounce the dragon lady's full name in Game of Thrones, then people can remember 'Latino', 'hispanic', 'spanish', 'chicano', or whatever. I mean, por favooor! My concern with Anglos, or gueros, is that what to call us becomes a central issue instead of child/older adult care, scary HIV infection rates among Latinx men, mental health concerns, and addressing the lie that Latinx are coming after white people's jobs. In a nutshell, if calling folks like me "Latinx" gives one a self-satisfied feeling that they have done their part for the Latinx community, then an examination of priorities and privilege might need to be considered.
Dan (Lafayette)
@Aaron B I get it and agree with your lament about not fixing the big problems we have. But I didn’t invent the problem of how to refer to “'Latino', 'hispanic', 'spanish', 'chicano', or whatever” folk. I learned of the term Latinx when a latinx asked me to use that word. So, to you and the rest of the comunidad; I’m game for any rules. Just tell me what they are, and don’t give me scorn when I follow them (as best I can).
Anonymous (United States)
@Aaron B: Latinx sounds like an appliance manufacturer. I prefer Hispanic or Spanish. In my case, maybe I should insist on Catalon.
Jorge (San Diego)
@Aaron B -- I don't like being called "guero" because I don't identify as white. See how that works?
David Greene (Farragut, TN)
This seems like the spec in a Democrat's eye being magnified while minimizing the log in one's own eye. Who has falsely denigrated Mexican refugees? Who has separated asylum-seeking parents from their children as American policy? Who is building a wall to keep "those people" out? And on and on. Republicans. So, Latinx? Wow!
Chaz (Austin)
@David Greene No doubt you are correct. GOP endorsed, or just enabled, policies regarding immigrants have been heinous. But those policies will continue if Dems go full Bernie (now full Liz?) and turn off crucial swing state voters.
RB (Chicagoland)
@David Greene - well said. I imagine Ross' reply to this would be that there is already constant criticism of Trump in every media forum so it's a well-trodden ground blah, blah. But I don't recall reading an article by him that could be described as a full-throated criticism of Trump or Republicans.
HTS (NC)
I agree with you. And yet, he has a point. Democrats need to be seen as the party that understands working class voters. Not the party of grad students.
Jared (NC)
Here is the problem with "Latinx": when used to describe Latinos as a whole (as opposed to a specific person who identifies as Latinx, which is fine) it is an attempt to fix a problem Spanish doesn't have. Spanish is a language in which gendered words don't always carry the same associations as in English. All nouns, including inanimate objects, are gendered. It does not necessarily assign a gender to the object or objects, but rather is a feature of the language. Whereas in English gendering a group of people is inherently exclusive (calling a group of people "men" means that the group is exclusively male), gendering a group in Spanish with the male indirect pronoun "os" does NOT connote exclusive maleness. It is understood as communicating that the group may be mixed-gender. To find a problem in calling a community of people "Latinos" is to demand the SPANISH language change based on ENGLISH linguistic assumptions. That is essentially linguistic imperialism.
BearBoy (St Paul, MN)
@Jared - Well said! These politically correct people are nuts.
LSamson (Florida)
So what was wrong with Latino or declining Latino. There is not x ending in Spanish.
Mike (Republic Of Texas)
"So a politician who uses it, especially a white politician who uses it, may come across as condescending, jargon-dependent and, well, rude." Well don't they all? "If you are deep inside progressive discourse, you will immediately understand those purposes — “dismantling the default masculine” of romance languages, centering gender neutrality or nonbinariness in place of a cisgender heteronormativity." Binariness? I prefer binari-ism. Unless there are three, then, it is a throuple. 4 or more, is a mess. "One question about a more progressive Democratic nominee, Warren or Bernie Sanders, is whether either can win back white Obama-Trump voters in the crucial Electoral College states of the Upper Midwest — states where Warren, in this newspaper’s polling, currently trails Trump." Their plan is to undo everything Trump has done. Yup, who doesn't want to lose their job and go backwards. It is clear, Trump has no chance.
Jack McNally (Dallas)
The term "Latin" was invented by Michel Chevalier in the 1830s as the groundwork for French Imperialism in the New World. Trying to overcome linguistic gender in a Romance Language strikes me as a similar form of Imperalism, albeit this time from well meaning, but generally monolingual Identity Focused Progressives. Never forget - Dracula was a Latino too!
VFN (.)
'The term "Latin" was invented by Michel Chevalier in the 1830s ...' The word "Latin" as the name of the language dates to "before the 12th century". Check a dictionary that has etymologies, such as the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
Jack McNally (Dallas)
@VFN "Latin" in the context of "Latino" or "Latin America" was most certainly a French invention of the mid 19th century. It Check a history book, such as any of those at your local university library.
fFinbar (Queens Village, nyc)
@Jack McNally et al. (a Latin abbreviation). My problem is how many of these people whom you are parsing can actually speak Latin.
Howard (Los Angeles)
Ross, how about worrying about how the Republicans screw over Americans of Latinx, Hispanic, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central American, and other people whose cultural heritage is from the Americas and whose skin is not white. Hint, from a Book which is supposed to be the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church: When the stranger comes to live among you, do not oppress him. You should love him as the home-born among you." Leviticus 19:34.
DavidD (Bklyn)
I'm still not clear: does latinx rhyme with stinks or kleenex? And did nobody consider combining gendered suffixes "o" and "a" into a single gender-neutral anglicized suffix "oan" to create the rather more euphonious (in my opinion) neologism "latinoan" (rhymes with Samoan).
DavidD (Bklyn)
I'm still not clear: does latinx rhyme with stinks or kleenex? And did nobody consider combining gendered suffixes "o" and "a" into a single gender-neutral anglicized suffix "oan" to create the rather more euphonious (in my opinion) neologism "latinoan" (rhymes with Samoan).
Patricia (MN)
I am Latina. The use of Latinx is I think reflective of a generational divide that speaks to the older generations who are opposed to LGBT rights and a culture that is also highly machista and so is opposed to getting rid of much of the patriarchy still inherent in many nations. Latin America is full of crimes against women who go unpunished. I am Generation X, so right in the middle. I understand the language issues but I understand the message Latinx tries to convey and I am all for it. Especially when we need to address both the machismo in our cultures and the lack of support for the LGBT. I take no offense and I am proud of the Latinx people who are taking on our inherent issues in our own culture.
Ted (Dobbs Ferry)
@Patricia This is the best comment here. I wish you had written this column instead of Ross.
Bob K. (Monterey, CA)
@Patricia Polls say that only 98% of Latinos favor the use of Latinx to describe them. Are you telling us that only 2% of the community belongs to the younger generation?
Gunnar (Southern US)
Language evolves organically. People can’t be forced (or guilted) into using language they find stilted or politically correct. Real language change happens from the bottom up, not from the top down. I am willing to call people whatever they desire because that's the polite thing to do (to let people tell you how they identify). But I can’t help but agree with the author that this is an ideological term being pushed through the media by recent graduates of elite schools who have been been steeped in the jargon of cultural and gender studies programs. As a gay man I find it funny that I’m now being told in 2019 that “queer” is more inclusive than “gay” by people who very i often aren’t gay themselves (and who don;t seem to care that many gay man and lesbians don't identify as "queer"). I also find it telling that the woke police who instruct us on what is and is not acceptable language regarding other minorities are often not members of those minority groups either. I saw an article on Atlantic that said the self identified "progressive left" represents maybe 5% of the country and that the majority of them are reasonably well off, white, cis people whop graduate from elite schools. How those people know what Latinos or gay men or lesbians or trans people or African Americans prefer to be called is beyond me.
mbhebert (Atlanta)
@Gunnar Hell, most African Americans I know still call themselves "black" and I know they laugh at my PCness when I talk about "African Americans." In conversation, it's a minefield and this wider issue of "required wokeness" is going to cost us this damn election.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Gunnar: Common understanding of language is essential to democratic civilization. This is why there are public schools.
Dan (Lafayette)
@Gunnar “ How those people know what Latinos or gay men or lesbians or trans people or African Americans prefer to be called is beyond me.” I will move past the clumsy “those people” phrase, and just point out that the progressive left knows that people DON’T like to be called fags, invaders, murderers, rapists, thugs, perverts, ungodly, shiftless, welfare queens, and all the other ways the right refers to them. As a gay man, you should be running to find the common ground you have with progressives, no matter how sloppy the language is.
Alan M. Milner (Delray Beach, FL)
What is wrong with the gender neutral term Hispanic rather than the gender-specific Latina or Latino? I have never met a Hispanic person who took umbrage at being called a Hispanic, and I used to run a social service agency that served a specifically Hispanic population. It was called "The First Hispanic Academy." No one ever complained.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@Alan M. Milner: The word "Hispanic" generally refers specifically to Spanish culture and descent. It doesn't encompass the diversity of South Americans.
Carlos (Agoura Hills)
Wow! I just discovered that the ivory tower elite refer to me as a Latinx. I already had a hard time figuring out if I was "legally" Hispanic or Latino. Now, I have to assume that it depends who is naming me. You are right describing her in "my" eyes. I find her condescending. I mistrust people that think that they are so smart that they are the only ones that can make all the decisions for me and also run the implementation of them.
Dan (Lafayette)
@Carlos This just in from the ivory tower elite: It is the Hispanic community that has come up with the term latinx. If you have a problem, take it up with them.
TMart (MD)
Unbelievable the number of enraged woke commenters who hijack an editorial about the adoption of the term Latinx to attack Trump.
Frank Knarf (Idaho)
@TMart Believable the tiny number of upset Trumpoids who ignore this administration's history of contempt and abuse for the people of Mexico and Central America to defend Ross for his attempted distraction.
Dan (Lafayette)
@TMart Hmmm... That never occurred to me, until you mentioned it. And you are spot in: Trump is a jerk and a traitor. And that has nothing to do with the term latinx.
TMart (MD)
@Dan Yes it occurred to you and many others; read the comments.
MJ (Northern California)
We already have an adjective, "Latin," that is non-gendered. It should be clear from the context whether it's referring to ethnicity or the classical language. Why not just use that?
Mike (Republic Of Texas)
@MJ And, will European languages be re-written to be gender neutral? On this, I would support, because it would making learning those languages much easier.
Dan (Lafayette)
@MJ Not edgy enough. This is after all a term to highlight a kind of claiming of ones own identity. You may or may not like it or agree with it, but “Latin” just doesn’t get you there.
PA Voter (Chester County,PA)
I remember the term Afro-American. It was replaced with African-American. Would non-European "Latins" accept the term Latin American? Do people from Puerto Rico identify as Latin Americans?
BearBoy (St Paul, MN)
No, we learned from Mr. Douthat that they are now Latinxes.
Barrel Rider (Ca)
I don’t know this new Elizabeth Warren. What happened to the articulate lady who was going to so well represent working class voters with her relentless focus on the inequities in our economic system? This new Warren seems to be in the hold of a group of professors specializing in advanced and esoteric grievance studies. Elevating the latest PC faddist language will endear her to a tiny group of largely white elite academics while alienating her from a much larger group of middle to lower class voters of all races. A group of voters who care quite a bit about how they are gonna make rent next week, but laugh at the contortions white professors put themselves through in order to appear culturally sensitive. Deliver the goods on economic justice and no one will care if you accidentally use Chicano instead of Latino or Black instead of African American. Your a highly educated white lady from the most elite institution in America. Get over it. Stick to what you know and be authentic.
Frank Knarf (Idaho)
@Barrel Rider Do you actually not understand the dynamics of party primary elections?
William Case (United States)
When Americans refer to “Latinos,” they are usually talking about Hispanics. But the word “Latino” is not interchangeable with the word “Hispanic.” “Latino” is short for the Spanish world “latinoamericano,” which means a resident of Latin America or their descendants living in the United States. But not all Latinos are Hispanic, an adjective that relates to Spain or to Spanish-speaking culture and countries, especially those in Latin America. For example, Haitians and Brazilians are Latinos but not Hispanics because the language of Haiti is French while the language of Brazil is Portuguese. In Texas, Hispanics prefer to be called Hispanics. Most are Mexican Americans. They feel they have they have little in common with Haitians, Brazilians or other non-Hispanic Latinos. The Census Bureau defines “Hispanic” as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. Census takers counts the number of Hispanics because Hispanics are a “protected” majority group. It doesn’t count the number of Latinos because Latinos are not a protected minority.
mbhebert (Atlanta)
@William Case I find all of that very interesting - really. But I'm an over-educated, trying to get woke white person. When I realize that even I am growing increasingly frustrated trying to stay caught up on all the labels, I cannot imagine how someone who doesn't really care and is just trying to live his life and make a living feels. He has got to feel constantly attacked for not keeping up and offending whole categories of people every time he speaks. I sincerely believe that if the Dems lose this election, it will be because they nominated someone who most of middle America considered "an elite." Have we learned nothing at all from 2016?
Frank Knarf (Idaho)
@mbhebert Corrupt, billionaire real estate moguls are just folks, I guess.
mbhebert (Atlanta)
@Frank Knarf For reasons I will never understand, that is what 35-40% of our nation's voters say. Frankly, I think it's the poor grammar and total lack of sentence structure. Sloppy speaking makes the truly ignorant think "hey, he's just like me" and the average guy think "hey, he talks just like my brother in law." Both crowds enjoy the idea of a president who they know isn't "too smart."
Clarisss (Sacramento)
I am Latinx. This term is widely used by most younger Latinx. It’s not obscure or rare. Kamala and Julian use this term too, fail on your part for erasing them. Talk to Latinos and Latinas and you’ll find it’s already common but it is generational.
Frank Knarf (Idaho)
@Clarisss To be fair, Ross is just flailing about in desperation as conservative Catholicism self destructs.
Michael Piscopiello (Higganum)
Yes, maybe Warren and other elite liberals make poor language choices toward Latinos. Yes, if America was more culturally aware and inclusive of our Central and South American neighbors and decedents living here a common language would emerge, but at least Warren and the other described liberal elite aren’t shouting ‘go back to where you come from’.
Sam I Am (Windsor, CT)
The GOP isn't merely 'less-bigoted-seeming.' It's an actual bigoted white supremacist authoritarian political party at war with the rule of law. Whether one is latino, latina, or latinx, it is plain to see the GOP sees you as less than American, and that the Democrats do not. So, pardon me if I yawn over Ross' discursions into Warren's diction. When and if the GOP is not a white supremacist authoritarian party, Democrats can start to worry. I hope I live to see the day.
Class Enemy (United States)
So the “progressive” whites want to call Latinos a name that Latinos actually don’t like ? What’s new there ? Being an immigrant myself, let me tell you a little secret: immigrants, even illegal ones, come to this country to improve their lives, not to make ideological statements. They want to live here, not to antagonize those who already live here. Their priorities are, in this case as well, fundamentally different than those of leftist activists.
Frank Knarf (Idaho)
@Class Enemy Their priorities also differ in subtle ways from the xenophobic bigots and white nationalists currently dominating the Republican party, though it's true that one would have to pay careful attention to notice this.
Dan (Lafayette)
@Class Enemy Nonsense. How do you purport to know what this leftist activist views as a priority? And why would you, as an immigrant not here to make ideological statements, make such a spectacularly uninformed ideological statement?
GWB (San Antonio)
Latinx sounds too much like Kleenex. Some say President Ford's 1976 San Antonio tamale eating experience cost him crucial votes. Those of a certain age might remember. His staff failed to brief him. When eating a tamale you first separate it from the corn husk!
Jorge (San Diego)
Some Italians might see it as cultural appropriation.
Edward (Honolulu)
Why do you think the native population so easily converted to Christianity? Have you seen Apocalypto? Under the Spanish, the rigid class system of the Aztecs was replaced by a more humane one which eliminated human sacrifice and allowed broader and fairer participation in society. We always hear how terrible the Spaniards were. I would say they were more humane than the Anglos who never gave the native population the opportunity to participate but instead engaged in systematic genocide.
Kate (Seattle)
I personally love the term, and I think it appeals to many young Latinx voters. It’s inclusive, respectful, and updated, just like Warren’s campaign. I think “Latinx” is a conversation-starter at worst, and an accurate, smart choice at best. As a woman of both European and native Mexican descent, I know that many older members of my family will ask me what it means or talk with me about it, families tend to be very close in the “Latinx” community. It’s a hopeful choice and not very complicated to explain. I hope young voters show up in the election!
Deborah (Seattle)
At least she's trying. Personally, I use Latina to describe myself...sometimes. Usually I just refer to my country of origin, as many Latin American immigrants tend to do. I never use the term "Hispanic" because it ignores the part of me that isn't of Spanish descent. My 19 yo daughter uses Latinx, my 16 and 14 yo sons refer to themselves as Latino. My Mexican best friend uses "Mexican." My Honduran friend refers to himself as "Garifuna," which is an indigenous group from Honduras. I think that more important than criticizing Elizabeth Warren for trying to use "Latinx" is to ask what plan she has for taking kids out of cages.
Terry Orlando (Florida)
I am a Latina who likes Elizabeth Warren, and I approve this message.
Simon Sez (Maryland)
@Terry Orlando OK. The majority of the Latino community has not use for Warren and will not vote for her. She is truly out of touch with the working class she claims to represent. Funny, no one asked them to have this Ivy League law professor lead them .
Tulipano (Attleboro, MA)
@Simon Sez And yet, Simon, she would look out for their issues and wellbeing. We can live in our hidebound little silos and only speak from our 'issues' or we can do what is best for people like you or me and the nation as a whole. Time for some second order thinking where we think about how we've thought about choosing candidates in the past. I'm from MA and have seen Elizabeth Warren at work, her depth, intelligence, and sincerity. I'd vote for her in a NY minute as the best candidate for any minority group.
Thomas Zaslavsky (Binghamton, N.Y.)
@Simon Sez Silly post. Elizabeth Warren (remember her) asked them to have this Ivy League law professor lead them, instead of the Ivy League undergrad and bully in the White House.
Eric Salathé (Seattle)
Warren, like Buttigieg, comes across as book learned when talking about people outside their narrow social circle. Her language talk resonates with a lot of people, because they've read the same books. Meanwhile Biden's talk of Corn Pop and Mouse Smith sound faked when they are actually authentic. The root problem with the word Latinx is that it comes from written, not spoken, language. The x is a symbol, as the unknown in algebra (y=mx + b), not a letter indicating a sound. Its spoken form is an afterthought, with arbitrary pronunciation. In the real world, spoken language takes precedence over written, dialogue occurs among people sitting together. But, among a large class of society, discourse now is primarily on social media, written, and therefore unavoidably inauthentic.
Dan (Lafayette)
@Eric Salathé Gotta hate those darn book learned people! /s You might consider that book learning is how most of our learning outside our personal experience happens. Would you have that Warren or Buttigieg not even bother, like the tool in the White House?
JW (Oak Park, IL)
Warren is completely the wrong candidate for Democrats to run against Trump. He will crush her. This is painful for me to think about --- but if the progressive Democrats think she can beat Trump, they are completely deluding themselves. Democrats need to focus on the people who vote in the purple states they need to win in the Electoral College. Focus on that!! Please, we can't take Trump in the White House any more. Warren will not beat Trump. If Trump wins the White House for four more years, it will be because progressive Democrats let it happen. He would be so easy to defeat with the right candidate.
B Dawson (WV)
This is why PC is so exhausting. The dance card changes too rapidly, academia thinks they're all that and if you don't have a large group of friends within the culture being described you're likely to offend by ignorantly using a no longer trendy label.
Ted (Dobbs Ferry)
Even if we accept the premise that using the term "latinx" is a problem (there's no evidence to support that claim), "liberalism" didn't invent the term latinx, so it's not liberalism's "problem".
Mr. Adams (Texas)
I'm not sure what 'latinx' means and I can't be bothered to look it up. I imagine a lot of other folks are similarly confused. Which is why Warren needs to talk more like normal people in general. I like that she's very smart and knows the intimate details of pretty much any policy you could name. I like that she talks inclusivity and tries to appeal to everyone. But she seems to have difficulty translating that into interpersonal likability. She just doesn't come across as very relatable. That said, the opposition (Trump and Republicans in general) are so horrendously bad at inclusivity that Warren gets an automatic A just for trying. And the mere suggestion that Trump is relatable to anyone who wasn't given most of a billion dollars by their dad is laughable. He comes across as a spoiled rich kid who quite possibly has still not grown up.
Jim Linnane (Bar Harbor)
This sort of thing becomes a problem only when it is weaponized. That is when it becomes a justification for deeming someone who does not use the term a racist. Otherwise it is a distraction. For sure Republicans will do their best to weaponize words like Latinx or cisgender as proof that the Democratic nominee does not really care about you or your family or your community.
Sharon Tey (Phoenix, Arizona)
Throughout history people in the vanguard have introduced terms into language that decades later become mainstream. It’s too soon to say for Latinx. If its usage is an issue - and that’s a BIG if, Mr. Douthat - then it’s a by-product of a dynamic and diverse political party trying to embrace a generational and cultural shift in the country. This is not a concern shared by an aging, monolithic Republican Party. Sixty years later, they’re still having the vapors over the use of the term ‘Ms’.
Alison (Raleigh)
Latinx is widespread on NCSU campus, not exactly a bastion of liberal or radical culture change. Most of the students in Students for Immigrant Rights, the student organization I advise, are first generation citizens and first generation college students and they all use Latinx. They don't seem to care which way it is pronounced. I am sure their parents are familiar with the term through them. Anyway, I don't think this is a problem.
Livonian (Los Angeles)
@Alison Your comment reminds me of Pauline Kael's (possibly apocryphal) comment that she couldn't understand how Nixon won "since nobody I know voted for him."
MarciaG (Brooklyn)
There is an equivalent term for individuals from the Spanish-speaking countries of the Americas that was widely used in English until the latter twentieth century. It comports with the norms of English pronunciation and is gender neutral. That word is "Latin." "Latino" entered into vogue as a more progressive and authentic-sounding label a couple of generations back. It never quite worked in English, leading to such abominations as "Latino women," which ignores the number and gender agreement required by Spanish grammar (i.e., "mujeres latinas"). This is also the possibly insurmountable hurdle "Latinx" would have to clear before being embraced by Spanish speakers.
Ed (Minnesota)
Julián Castro uses the term "Latinx" all the time!
Mike Dowling (West Palm Beach, Florida)
@Ed ...and Julián Castro is polling at less than one percent. Unlike Sen. Warren, the man who called for abortion rights for transgender women (who can't get pregnant) is not a factor in this race.
GO (NYC)
@Ed He would.
David Sperling (New York City)
@Ed Also, Julian Castro does not even speak decent Spanish. He needs some more street cred.
sdavidc9 (Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut)
If Warren becomes President and gets a third of what she wants, moderate and conservative Democrats will be very pleased. If Biden becomes President and gets a third of what he wants, Republicans will be pleased it wasnt worse, pretend it was a complete disaster, and set to work taking back what he got; most Democrats will not see much change.
Tara (MI)
Er, there _is no_ default masculine in Romance languages. The gender of a noun (e.g., the French for 'a word' is un mot; the Italian for 'a word' is una parola) is baked into it, and the adjectival forms (that modify the noun) simply follow the original noun. However, in the Germanic languages such as English, we are expected to default: "Everyone will take his book and open it to..." Oh and the 'his' of that example is not a gender reference, contrary to the language engineers; it's a linguistic convention for convenience.
Madrugada Mistral (Hillsboro, OR)
I'm a Latina. The term "Latinx" is a non-starter. All Spanish nouns have a gender.
FrederickRLynch (Claremont, CA)
Why doesn't Ross Douthat simply go "all the way" in his conclusion and state that a vote for Elizabeth Warren is a vote for Political Correctness? (It is already established that a vote for Trump is a vote against Political Correctness.)
bobg (earth)
What is Elizabeth Warren thinking? Imagine--using the term Latinx!! Better to just stick to separating families, locking them up, and characterizing all Latinos (not Latinx), as gang-banging, drug-dealing, murderers and rapists.
SPQA (nyc)
@bobg Rich white elites wokesplaining to working class people of color and working class whites is how Trump was elected. Why are we doubling down?
Mx (nyc)
@bobg You are missing the point. I like Elizabeth Warren very much, but by using a term that is out of touch with the majority of America, she is shooting herself in the foot. Why give free points to the other side?
AutumnLeaf (Manhattan)
I am sorry. Am from Latin origin and I had never heard of ‘Latinx’. I had to Google it just now. It is not a thing. I am sorry but if you use that around me I know you have no clue who we are or what we stand for. We act and behave like normal people, we do not have to tell you how ‘woke’ we are while sipping on a chai latte. We are not at all like that. Call us Latins, or girl or man, we’re fine with that. Call us some woke label you just gave us to make you feel butterflies in your tummy, watch us vote Red. Latins only vote Blue because Blue keeps promising green cards and amnesty, but never delivers. But for those of us who do not need that, you cannot convince us to vote Blue. Remember, Latins are so much more conservative you can imagine. We are here for the American Dream. Given any excuse, our favorite color becomes Red.
VFN (.)
"It is not a thing." Evidently your research skills can't match those of Merriam-Webster, which Douthat quotes in the fourth paragraph. You can find "Latinx" in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at merriam-webster.com.
Pete in Downtown (back in town)
And why is Ross Douthat writing this column about how Elizabeth Warren addresses Latinos, and not someone of Latino origin?
Rosie (NYC)
Because in his white privileged world, he still believes a all need a benevolent white man to speak for us.
Tim (Boston)
Liberalism has a liberalism problem. Clinton knew it, Obama knew it. We'll see come November 2020!
Chris Morris (Idaho)
First off, Ms. Warren is walking talking proof that 72 is the new 50! What kinda vitamins dat lady on!? (LEH!) High energy, enthusiastic, likes a fight, pushes her plans unapologetically, no running away and hiding. This is what it will take to beat Trump. In today's politics caution kills. This has proven the case since the 2000 and 2004 and 2016 cycles. Hillary proved cautious hiding out won't do it.
johnw (pa)
When did douthat become a spokesperson for any minority's identity.
Doug (Indiana)
Would it be better if Warren refered to Latinos as "rapists", as the guy representing Douthat's party does? The regular and petty Warren hit-pieces that appear in the NYT are proof Wall Street, Limousine Liberals, and DINO Third Wayers are indeed concerned about Warren....as they were with Sanders in 2016 when they sabotaged his campaign.
Buster Dee (Jamal, California)
Latinx signals progressives she is on board their train. Latinos(sorry intellectuals) are getting the same massage. From what I have read below, they don’t like it.
turtle (Brighton)
Must every column of conservative concern-trolling be printed? All the problems this country is currently enduring because of the GOP and an entire column devoted to a word Ross doesn't like? Do better, NYT.
CinnamonGirl (New Orleans)
Trump is burning down the country, shredding the constitution and running shadow diplomacy that benefits Putin. Rudy has been pals with a guy named Igor, who just got arrested and is send dirty $$$$ galore to republicans. And you write about Warren’s use of Latinx and whether the country is ready for the “rigors” of progressivism?
Woke (Nj)
Latinx? You’d think a self-identifying Native American would get it.
bill (canton ga)
Why would anyone care about Warren using this term? How could a man be paid to write drivel about this usage? Warren is starting to scare somebody is the answer.
Nick Metrowsky (Longmont CO)
"Latinx" explains why NBC Universal is starting up an over the air network, next April, called "LX" a channel that appeals to younger Latinos. I never herd "Latinx" ever used around here, and this area has a sizable population of Latinos, mostly from Mexico I guess if I go to politically correct Boulder, which is full of ex-Californians, and major PC type university, than "Latinx"will be bantered about. Warren seems to not know a lot about Mexico and Central America. Europeans committed wholesale genocide to convert Aztecs, Mays, Incas, Toltecs, et. al. into Catholics, and Spanish speakers, at the point of a sword. "Latino" and "Hispanic" were European terms thrust upon the population. "Lantix" is now another term being placed upon these people; not by choice. I guess political correctness is selective as usual.
Doug Gillett (Los Angeles, CA)
If this is what the NYT’s conservative wing has been reduced to in their attempts to poke holes in the Warren campaign, she must be even stronger than I thought. “Latinx” may still be an obscure term in the grand scheme of things, but do you really think that community was crying out to have Ross Douthat of all people mansplain it to them? What’s next, Bret Stephens criticizing the cultural sensitivity of the Dems’ outreach efforts to Muslims?
Carla Way (Austin, TX)
Why are you, of all people, offering commentary on this?
Feldman (Portland)
This is a really petty complaint, even for Ross. Work with her content professor, and if its language that is bothering you, look to your man currently sullying the White House.
Cassandra (Hades)
This is unbearably stupid. Of all the things to write about, Douhat chooses this. I've heard younger Lationos and Latinas use Latinx. It's awkward, but so what? The real point of this piece is that you don't like Warren, and that you pick any nit possible to undermine her. It's rather like your book in which you compare Pope Francis with Donald Trump: you reach your conclusion (I resent Warren; I resent Pope Francis), then you set about finding reasons, however slight, however farfetched, to justify your resentment.
DM (Santa Fe)
Ross you’re so cool! Too bad your other views aren’t a fraction as hip.
Old Hominid (California)
Oh, who cares? I'm fed up with Warren criticism. What paper must I subscribe to for only positive articles?
Thomas B (St. Augustine)
Well, it's better to refer to Mexicans as Latinxers or whatever than to hate them. In Chicago there are many Iricans, Mexipoles, and Italicans.
WmC (Lowertown MN)
I would be curious to know if Ross Douthat wrote a column warning presidential candidates against using the honorific "Ms" when that term was introduced. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that he did. Not that I would have remembered it if he had.
Peter Aretin (Boulder, Colorado)
"Latinx" suggests a new kind of synthetic fabric or something that would be followed with a ®.
piet hein (Rowayton CT)
Increasingly ideological platform for Democrats? Increasingly non-ideological open minded platform for Republicans? Just saying.
American (Portland, OR)
No one asked women, if we were “all good”, with having self declaration of gender, along with no possible conversation or disagreement about it. We were culturally strong-armed and painted as violent bigots, if we did not agree, that a “woman is anyone who says they are a woman”, as opposed to a “woman”, is anyone, with any personality, housed for this lifetime, within a female body. No choice for us- and no one ever asked for our opinion. As a matter of fact, when we do disagree with this new state of affairs, in England, the police will arrest you, for saying men are not women. In front of your children. No one asked us and the new cultural naybobs, have no intention of letting us even discuss it. Thanks millennials.
Michael (Amherst, MA)
I first encountered "Latinx" in an academic context, as a term of address that my Latino/a colleagues preferred. Reading the comments here, it's interesting to learn that many of Latino heritage are not enamored of the term. and others find it offensive. That's good to know. But Good Lord! Trump refers to Mexicans as rapists, criminals, and drug dealers and commits human rights abuses by separating children and parents... and people upset with Warren for using the term Latinx? We may be doomed.
Cris Miranda (Guaynabo, PUERTO RICO)
Don't ever call me Latinx. It's an Americanization of the Spanish-language trying to be politically correct. It's an English word being forced down our throats that is unnatural to say, and offensive to most. For many of us Latinos, Latinx signals that you belong to the LGBTQ community, which I love and support, but am not a part of. In Spanish, the masculine part of our speech is also the "gender neutral" one. So it already exists. No need to invent something that isn't needed.
Grittenhouse (Philadelphia)
LatinX is NOT a word. It is unpronouncable. It is a political construction designed to confound and irritate people. Our language is continually being butchered by such social engineering. Latin-American already more than covers the needed meaning. Using Latino or Latina is already stepping beyond the bounds into Spanish.
Pamela (NYC)
A whole column dedicated to a word Ross dislikes. If only he cared as passionately about babies and children being ripped from their parents' arms, separated sometimes permanently from their families because they got "lost in the system" and they are totally unaccounted for; locked in cages and in ice-cold rooms without adequate warmth or supervision; fed paltry meals; deprived of basic hygienic and medical care; psychologically traumatized, perhaps for life, by what they are enduring at the direction of Stephen Miller and Donald Trump. Where is your sense of proportion, Ross?
Ethan B (Winston Salem, NC)
What's wrong with pronouncing it "Latin-X". According to Merriam Webster, that's the correct pronunciation
JW (Oak Park, IL)
@Ethan B Ethan -- it's the way the second syllable is pronounced that's the problem. The quasi-official PC way is to pronounce the second syllable with a long "e" sound, like in Latino and Latina. I don't know this from hearing it, but only from Googling about it. I didn't hear Warren use the word, but it appears she pronounced the English word "Latin" (like the language) followed by an "x". The people that developed this made-up word didn't provide an official recording to everyone, so some people simply don't know how to pronounce it and they stumble like Warren apparently did. If a word is this hard to pronounce, it should be abandoned. From the Hispanics commenting on this page, it appears "Latino" is gender-neutral in Spanish and completely acceptable to refer to groups of both men and women.
Michael Rees (Niwot, CO)
I just skimmed this article, but it looks to be right on point to me! It will be over issues similar to this one that Democrats will find a way to repel moderate voters next fall. Furthermore, the language of left-wing political correctness will alienate moderates and help Dems to lose yet another winnable presidential election. But, it's the thought that counts, right? Who needs to win when you have such superior and enlightened language? I don't see any of our current Democratic candidates beating Trump, sadly. Where's an Obama when we most need him? Michael Bloomberg, are ye he?
Lucas (Florida)
The problem is this progressive labeling to include everyone. If I label you I can move on because I understand and know you, and I am with you. As a person from the Hispanic and Latin culture this the term is a misnomer of gargantuan proportions. In Spanish, Latino refers ito all genders. It is inclusive in itself. The Real Academia Española explained this and rejected the term LatinX. Know this, Romance Languages are gender inherent per se. Yet this is embraced by people either ignorant of their language or culture who misguided want to bastardize it by adding the Ex. Many years ago, Latine, did not take. Spanish is Spanish, English is English. Anglo white and others who subscribe to this extremist PC manifestations should stop coming up with labels to try to explain, identify, or even win us over. If we go down this route, I hope to see this social construct applied to the AfricanX, ChineseX, RusianX, and North AmericanX. Perhaps the census should include this too. How’s that for labeling? Race and ethnicity, social constructs created to classify and make the powerful feel better about themselves.
Mathew (Madrid)
Thanks for this, it needed saying. I am a progressive American expat living in Western Europe, and what I most want is for America to elect a leader in 2020 who will bring together a wide coalition of sensible centrists and help the world put this ugly experience of Trumpism behind us. The Democratic candidate needs to stay above the fray of niche left-wing progressive ideas that have no place in a platform of national unity and reconciliation. Every sensible person across the political spectrum needs to be willing to make some small ideological sacrifices in the name of ensuring Trump loses and America - and the rest of the world - wins.
SteveRR (CA)
And this is a perfect microcosm of why no one trusts the woke class to run anything more complex than a lemonade stand. Employment, education, immigration... and we're talking about Latinx when every already knows that Latino is a totally made up term that has no ethnic or cultural there-there.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
The all speak the modern languages that are closest to Latin.
SteveRR (CA)
@Steve Bolger So - French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian?
Arslaq al Labor (al Wadin al Champlain)
In making sense of the current crop of gentile monikers that have been tacked on folks who happen hail from lands south of the Rio Grande, it's helpful to know a little about their origins. "Hispanic", apparently the most popular of them, is the byproduct of efforts of numbers-crunchers at the US Census Bureau who sought a more time-saving way of recording the waves of Antillean, Central and South American immigrants seeking entry into the US during the 70's. "Latino," the second most popular, has a deeper and certainly more complex origin. It's a shortened version of "América Latina," which was conceived by the Chilean essayist Francisco Bilbao, who applied it exclusively to mainland South America as a counterpoise to what he dubbed "Saxon" America--i.e., North America, encompassing the Antilles, Central America, Mexico and the US.
North Carolina (North Carolina)
Douthat is on thin ice here. The emerging Latino or Latinx identity is developing right before our eyes after the Great Migration. Like a lot of cultural phenomenons they begin in small circles--in this case in academia for the most part. Latinx has been debated for a while in these circles and is being brought out to a larger audience for its inclusiveness. The general population is just learning this term. So, let's wait and see in terms of acceptance and what that may mean shall we Douthat? Oh and the study is rather limited in its scope too. Did you report that? Latino Rebels found that out of the 508 people nationally polled, 102 were listed as 18-24. The poll also skews more Spanish-speaking has the majority of its responders in the South and West--fewer in the Northeast and New York and Chicago. And finally is 60 percent foreign born and 63 percent Mexican origin. When broken down the poll is rather narrow. I would say the 60 percent foreign born would not embrace Latinx as it is too different from the Spanish language to be embraced at all. Their kids on the other hand--the ones born here and eligible to vote probably more likely to embrace it because of social media. So, looking to the future, and political parties signalling their support of this growing demographic because investing in Latinx is not a bad idea.
TabbyCat (Great Lakes)
So . . . . How IS it pronounced? I've mostly read it, though I'm sure I've heard it on a few radio articles or podcasts. Thought I was hearing Latin-X. Question for me is academic, as the word is unlikely to pass my lips.
Tim (Chicago)
So much of modern discourse is trying to toe the line of raising discussion points without either under or over-stating their gravity. I agree with other commenters pointing out that this is not the most pressing issue in this country for a variety of obvious reasons. I also agree with commenters noting that even if the issue itself should not be a top priority, it still highlights broader themes of communication and connection/disconnect with everyday people (whether "Latinx" or not) that DO matter more significantly in finding the right candidate to reach enough voters to win. Ultimately, for what its worth, I think successful candidates find ways to speak their values resolutely (so that they can't be accused of opportunistic poll-watching) but meet people where they are at in explaining their beliefs (so that people do not feel insulted or condescended to just for disagreeing). In this instance, that might mean toning down the jargon, or it might mean being willing to explain why Warren finds using it worthwhile -- either way, I'm not convinced "Latinx" is as "rude" as Douthat would have it, it just might be a little distracting at worst. One quick aside: I'm Mexican-American, and moved to Chicago from California for college. I once asked an international student friend out of curiosity whether he saw me as Hispanic or white? In my favorite answer ever, he responded: "Californian."
Mercury S (San Francisco)
Spot on, unfortunately. I said Latinx for a while, and then someone told me that Latinos don’t like it. Don’t use a term that offends the group you’re describing. Same with pronouns. If someone personally asks me to use specific pronouns, of course I will. But this is mystifying to most of the country. We are here to win this election, and that means taking the Rust Belt and Arizona.
laolaohu (oregon)
I cringe every time I hear "Latin-X." Spanish is one of the most musical and rhythmic languages on this planet. Who are we to impose ourselves on it and in the process destroy it? Solely for political correctness, no less. It's bad enough that we destroy our own language. This is simply good old-fashioned American imperialism in a different form.
Ellen (Colorado)
Another ridiculous attempt to find something wrong with Warren. If that's the best you can do, Ross, hang it up.
TabbyCat (Great Lakes)
@Ellen I, for one, appreciate that conservative's free advice to (his) opposition. The larger point he's making is that Warren has a problem connecting with important constituencies in the Democratic party, namely older Hispanics and African Americans. We Democrats nominate her at our peril (and I like her, but she's not going to beat Trump).
Livonian (Los Angeles)
@Ellen As a huge Warren supporter, I do not find Ross's column a matter of nit-picking, but a vital warning. She already has a big hurdle to get people to understand that she's not a communist who wants to destroy capitalism. But it she becomes seen as an uber-woke, progressive cultural pharisee on top of that, she WILL lose. Period. "Political correctness" is far too tepid a term to describe the kind of left-liberal-progressive cultural authoritarianism which such idiotic terms as "LatinX" symbolizes. But liberals just can't seem to help themselves. It is infuriating, because it is the ONLY reason the Democrats constantly struggle to gain national dominance. It is poison.
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
Where did the x come from? Latino/Latina is an honorable and polite term for someone with Latin American (including parts of the American Southwest and Puerto Rican) roots. As in most Indo-European languages (but not usually in English) it has a masculine form ending in o and a feminine form ending in a.
GMM (North)
I recently heard it pronounced “la-tinks” on TV this past weekend. Ross doesn’t say if this is the correct pronunciation. Up until then, I thought it was pronounced “Latin-X,” like Warren, subbing in the X sound for the A or O sound. I think I’ve also heard young people on NPR explaining why they think it’s necessary and saying “Latin-X.” Can anyone clarify? For me, “la-tinx” sounds a bit twee. When I first heard it out loud, I thought it was an insult.
JW (Oak Park, IL)
@GMM The pronunciation hinges on the second syllable. It apparently should be pronounced with a long "e" sound, like when you say "Latino." So you would say: "Lah-teen-ex." Apparently Warren pronounced it "La-tin-ex" with the accent on the first syllable, basically Anglicizing the word by pronouncing the word we use for the Latin language, followed by x. Both are better than "La-tinx" which sounds like a derogatory term, as you note, but "Lah-teen-ex" is apparently the PC-approved pronunciation. All this over an insufferable made-up word that only academics and narrow-minded PC activists use!! This should clarify that Elizabeth Warren's true home is the ivory tower of academia, which also explains the unrealistic, impractical, contrived, and overly idealistic nature of her "plans". Can we please find someone else for president?
American (Portland, OR)
This entire generation is a bit twee.
Bob K. (Monterey, CA)
The pronunciation is under the ownership of the language conquistadors who decided to put an English word ending on a Spanish word. Kind of like ketchup on a burrito.
FerCry'nTears (EVERYWHERE)
Okay gaffes to be sure. I do think that it's funny that the Republicans who hope to capture the Latino vote by trotting out Cuban Candidates such as Ted Cruz (who was born in Canada) to appeal to the Latino voters. Like Sarah Palin was going to appeal to all women- right! We are not monolithic folks and that's a good thing. When I lived in New Mexico-which is a state everybody- many people consider themselves to be Hispanic.
gary daily (Terre Haute, IN)
Is this really the case, or is it just another of Douthat's ongoing, fence-sitting, "Dems, Follow Me Follow Me Not Your Bread and Butter Family Interests." talking points: "One question," Douthat insinuates, "about a more progressive Democratic nominee, Warren or Bernie Sanders, is whether either can win back white Obama-Trump voters in the crucial Electoral College states of the Upper Midwest —. . ." ? Douthat knows that he's wise to all the sins and ignorance of Donald Trump, but he also thinks he knows that white voters in the Upper Midwest are incapable of coming to the same conclusions as he did in regard to Trump's unfitness for any public office. Talk about your intellectual elitism! And who but a scared conservative pundit would really think that Latino voters would weigh Warren's rare use of the term "Latinx" as of equal importance as Medicare for All? Only a conservative trying to steer the Democratic Party to make a candidate choice palatable to Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and Big Billionaires makes such a specious argument.
Robert kennedy (Dallas Texas)
The topic is a bit silly, given the more serious issues we face in the 2020 election, but I do agree that these "top down" P.C. language is annoying and condescending. We should not have to check all the boxes every time we say something. People should stop being offended if they don't use the right word. As long as the word is not intended to inflame or demean, just stop it! I also hate the P.C. language that has led to tortured renditions of my favorite Protestant Hymns :)
Livonian (Los Angeles)
Yes, this really is a problem for Warren's campaign, one I strongly support. It is not just pandering, but pandering to the wrong crowd, our would-be progressive overlords. It can not be overstated how deeply loathed "political correctness" and all of its corollaries are - cancel culture, faux Twitter outrage, conspicuous virtue signalling, the obsession with race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, the byzantine gauntlet of intersectionality theory which left-progressives would have us all run - by most Americans including liberals and Democrats. This ideological regime guarantees endless group grievance and counter-grievance, Victims and Victimizers. It is poison to a truly diverse society. The best thing Warren could do when speaking to a large Hispanic crowd is just call them "my fellow Americans." It is the most inclusive phrase in American politics. There would not be a single Hispanic or Latino, binary or otherwise, left out. or offended.
GMM (North)
I wholeheartedly agree! Especially about the my fellow Americans point. However, if you follow the discourse, you will know that even calling Americans Americans is now problematic in some spheres, because all of us in the Western Hemisphere are on the part of the map named for Amerigo Vespucci and only US citizens are called Americans. Crazy, I know.
American (Portland, OR)
Quality comment.
Vinny (seattle)
Great! Thanks.
Dave Wilcox (San Luis Obispo, CA)
I'm old enough to remember when women caught flack for using Ms instead of Miss. Things change, and usually for the better.
BP (New Hampshire)
Once again and otherwise intelligent commentator over-generalizes to "make a point". Both the generalization AND the point are hardly worthy of such a overwrought column. But I guess there's just not much else to write about...the environment is clearly healing itself with no need for human input, the economy has finally made everyone's pay fair, and college is suddenly affordable. Also, all immigrants have found homes, jobs and are fully embraced by their neighbors and all elected officials. So, of COURSE, we need to nitpick about the entirety of "liberalism's" inability to articulate a word that is still in an evolutionary growth spurt. Would someone memo Russ and tell him to go on vacation...the world is doing just fine without him. Thanks!
Jeff (Denver)
"In that case they’re a constituency where a less-bigoted-seeming G.O.P. could make substantial inroads" You know what might also make substantial inroads? Actually being less bigoted. But I guess, as a conservative, you're willing to compromise your principles and settle.
AJ Garcia (Atlanta)
I really don't care what term she uses. Just so long as she stops these inhumane deportations.
Huxpat (San Antonio)
As a gringo who spent a decade living in a heavily indigenous part of Mexico, I actually find the term Hispanic - widely accepted as it is on the East Coast - far more problematic than quibbling over latinx/latino/latina. Should whites be called something clunky like Britanians? Used by whites to describe wildly different cultures monolithically, Hispanic is absurd on the face of it. And used within Latino culture to express a greater connection to Spain and often implicitly a disdain for people of more indigenous blood - growing up in south Florida I was well aware of white Cubans' feelings of superiority over Mexicans - it's also fraught with problems. Whites are fed this notion that Hispanic and Latino are interchangeable terms, just a matter of preference depending on whether you're from the East Coast or the rest of the country. But it's my experience that Latino identifies much more with the indigenous cultures that form the backbone of Mexico, Central, and South America and make up the Latinos of the central states and West, and Hispanic is favored more by people of more Spanish blood of the Caribbean and South America who populate the East Coast.
Collin (Iowa)
I normally don't agree with Douthat's opinions, but i'm at least receptive to what he's saying here. I have a bachelors degree in Spanish and Spanish is a highly gendered language. EVERYTHING in Spanish is either male or female and trying to shoehorn in some sort of gender-neutral "latinx" word into the language just demonstrates your ignorance. Its no surprise that Hispanics are very resistant to the idea of a "Latinx" word; similar attempts to add words to English have failed in the same way for similar reasons. I understand academics and progressives believe we should be more accommodating to non-binary gender identities, but you're fighting against language itself with this stuff.
Robert B (Brooklyn, NY)
This is not a term which any Latino/Latina I know uses. It is a product of academia alone. It is being used by Warren in large part because Corbin Trent, the wealthy and powerful white man who runs the Justice Democrats, wants in used as part of his Cultural Revolution style political movement. To that end, the most prominent member of his Justice Democrats, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an actual Latina, not only used the term Latinx, she got into a bit of Twitter feud over it because she wouldn't accept that most who are Latino/Latina disagree with her. One response on Twitter expressed what I felt: "‏to @AOC Can we PLS STOP using "Latinx" As a Latino, I *get* it but... you just can't de-gender EVERY NOUN in Spanish, adjust their articles, conform their adjectives, pluralize them when necessary, replace them with pronouns, etc... It's a language not a bathroom." Warren is tapping into a deliberate and cynical politicization of words by a group within the left which is white, wealthy, highly educated, and Anglo. They are a tiny group, yet very powerful. Warren may think she’s being sensitive to the priorities of Latinos, but she isn’t. Warren is terrified of offending the cultural extreme priorities of the academic left alone, which she wrongly thinks reflect the priorities of actual Latinos. In trying not to offend, Warren is being offensive while reinforcing that her only contact with anyone who is not white occurred while she was teaching at Harvard.
Robert (Out west)
I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out that academics spend to much trime fiddling with bits of language that nobody human gives a hoot about, and that politicians make missteps sometimes. Shocked, I tell you. But I am not shocked in any way, shape or form to see Ross Douthat et al trying to pass off their own jargon, their own buzzwords, as completely ordinary and normal common sense. Because—to use but one among many examples here—I hear plain old folks discourse upon, “Romance languages,” every single day. Oh my, yes indeedy I do. Why just the other day at the Dollar Store...
JWALD (Brooklyn)
I'm a Latina born and raised in NYC who supports Warren, but hates the term Latinx. It is a word that no Latino/Hispanic person I know uses or asked for and as the editorial states was likely concocted by liberal woke white intellectuals to cover an issue that simply did not exist. I would prefer that we be referred to as Latino-American or Hispanic-American. Does a Democrat candidate using the term bother me enough to vote Republican? Considering what the Republican party has become, absolutely not. It would be thoughtful if the candidates spoke to actual Latinos to get their thoughts on this new word before using it in speeches.
Joe (Raleigh, NC)
@JWALD Surely Sen. Warren is more worried about offending the progressive pronoun police than about whether working-class Hispanics actually say "Latinx." And with good reason -- they're her base of support, and they demand conformity. Sadly, this is the kind of thing that will give us all four more years of Trump.
Vivid Hugh (Seattle Washington)
I may be a hopelessly naive speaker of ordinary American English, but we do use the phrase "men and women" or "women and men" probably more often than "humans." What then would be wrong with "Latinos and Latinas" or "Latinas and Latinos?" (Incidentally, I note that there is a wavy red line under "Latinas" in this Comment box. Hmm.)
AW (NC)
Mr. Douthat, where are your columns nitpicking Trump? I am scrolling and scrolling, and I see few. You have squandered your opportunity to be a "reasonable" conservative as I'm sure you would say when pressed to support Trump.
Be Kind (UES)
My Spanish-speaking, immigrant wife finds "Latinx" a form of Anglo-cultural-bullying. Her view: Spanish is beautiful, and elite Anglophones can stuff their politically-correct linguistic vandalism where the sun don't shine.
phil morse (cambridge, ma)
I didn't like Warren because I found her irritating. Then I started to like her more. Now that this nonsense is coming out of her I feel even more irritated. A head full of plans for this and that is still just another head. I'm hoping Biden or Klobuchar puts Warren in her place.
BJ (Michigan)
What’s wrong with Hispanic? It’s inclusive, covers the entire Spanish-speaking world, easily pronounced, and people know what it means.
AR (San Francisco)
Latinos detest "Hispanic." It was made up by whites. The only Latinos who use "Hispanic" are middle-class wannabees who are ashamed of their roots.
BJ (Michigan)
Now that’s a stretch. Please provide some evidence for your opinion. U.S. government has employed the term Hispanic for census and other data collection for decades for the reasons I cited above.
James (tiawan)
This is a not an attack or a commentary but just a question: What is the latino ethnicity? My friends from Columbia would say they are Colombian, friends from Mexico, Mexican ect. Lumping them all other under a common heritage/ethnicity/term seem rather offensive like saying Japan and China are the same
Lleone (Brooklyn)
Being forced to linguistically identify as a gender that didn't suit them is why most of my queer Latin American friends have adopted the term 'Latinx'. I think the term was born out of a desire to not be discriminated against, and to be able to just be who they are. In a similar vein some people prefer to be called 'they' rather than 'he' or 'she'. Our languages are evolving as culture evolves. I do think it's problematic or awkward at the least when a non-Latin American politician is using a term to address Latin Americans who have not as a whole picked up the term to self-identify. But in comparison we have a literal traitor in the White House and a party that has abandoned democracy. So I'm just a bit frustrated with anyone who finds political correctness worth picking on when we have on our hands a collective slide into a corrupt mafia-state.
William (New Jersey)
The biggest misconception related to "Latinos" in this country in general and specifically by politicians is to bundle them all together. I was born in Cuba and I am Cuban and might not share - other than language - many things with my Latin-american brothers. It sounds to me like New Zealanders, English and Jamaicans (Anglos?) could be all bundled together as a block. Can they? They are not and we are not.
APM from PDX (Portland, OR)
Yup Ross. Everything is ideological. That saves you from finding a real issue and writing about it. If this is what bothers you about Warren, she is pretty clean, eh? How about writing about Trumps continued assault on Gods creation - our Earth. Or Republican lockstep endorsing the degradation of environment, education, budget, constitution, science and the truth. This all seems pretty snowflake. . “I’m Latino and haven’t heard that word” “I’m offended by the word”. I would have thought in the age of Trump, that isn’t worth the breath to pick out and comment on.
Reliance (NOLA)
The use of the word "LatinX" is new-ish, so it's a bit early to be deciding that Elizabeth Warren isnt allowed to use it. Who but Ross Douthat is offended by its use? The LatinX community is going to look at far more important issues to decide who they'll vote for. LatinX is a harmless new word in the lexicon. It may not be preferred by some, but Ross Douthat should move on to more pressing matters.
PB (northern UT)
Petty and pathetic, Ross! Focus your writing talents on cleaning up your own political party's severe corruption and toxic backyard! Conservatives and Republicans are showcasing their depravity and desperation when all they can do is try to smear the party of opposition and engage in simple Pavlovian conditioning to generate genuine hatred for liberals and progressives. Newsflash: Liberals, Democrats, and Progressives are not the enemy, and smart guys like Ross better figure out who is the enemy before this country implodes from within from vicious ad hominem attacks, intentional lies, conspiracy theories, and false narratives. (See article on Pompeo today).
SG (Oakland)
In a contest between a degenerate president who called Mexicans rapists and criminals and an articulate "woke" candidate who refers to "Latinx" because it has gained much traction these days in the community itself --well, is there any contest? Here's another anti-Warren column to support the bandwagon that the NY Times editorial group is on. Terrified of a progressive. And out of touch with the rest of America. I'd say that between Trump and the NY Times, I am no longer sure which one makes my blood boil faster every morning.
Serena Torres (New Jersey)
My hispanic fiancé and his family (PR and Nicaragua) do not like being called Latinx... they prefer Hispanic because they come from a country of spanish speaking heritage. Hearing politicians say “latinx people” never ceases to give them a scowl or an eye roll... personally, I don’t really know what to say- In my own experience the only people who I’ve heard say “latinx” are white people. Maybe a better idea would be to say “Hispanic and Latino people” until we can sort out a better more truly inclusive phrasing
Dennis Mancl (Bridgewater NJ)
What-about-ism!
Donegal (out West)
Okay, so let me get this straight here. We have a "president" who tosses off racial epithets against brown skinned people, to an adoring base of tens of millions of his supporters who revel in it. We have a "president" who has told brown skinned American citizens to "go back to where they came from." We have a "president" who has shoved Hispanic infants and children into internment camps, with no plans to ever reunite them with their families. We have a "president" who tells us the KKK and neo-Nazis are some very fine people - and his cult-like voters love it. And Ross, you are concerned about the term Latinx? Are you kidding me? I am a brown skinned American, with Middle Eastern background. It turns out that in Trump's America, I am either a target for the skyrocketing hate crimes at best, or a candidate for deportment or being shoved into an internment camp at worst - as is true for all of us who are brown skinned in this country. I can assure you, we brown skinned Americans whose ancestors came from many parts of this globe understand that our fates are not entwined with the latest liberal descriptions for our people. But we do understand that this "presidency", in this nation, at this time - is an existential threat to us. I'm voting Warren.
Michael (Buffalo)
Douthat laser-focused on THE most vital issues facing the nation at this moment in time :)
John (CT)
"Liberalism’s Latinx Problem" Looking forward to the following follow-up piece: "The NYTimes Identity Politics Obsession"
Kalidan (NY)
Really, this deserves an article length discussion? It is virtually impossible to solve any real problem here anymore because everyone who can speak and write will make it about litigating every issue of diversity, equality, representation, exploitation, environment, good for children, etc. According to this article, never mind the festering mess produced by Trump and the republicans, and the wholesale defiling of this sacred land, Warren deserves scorn and censure (which for democrats means 'wishing for the non-existent candidate among democrats to ensure a republican victory"). Get a life. Better yet, get a perspective.
Thomas (Branford,Fl)
Latinx seems like a contrived word. No me gusta.
Edward (Honolulu)
The whitex elitex have run away with the partyex.
American (Portland, OR)
Quality comment. And apparently they will go to the ends of the earth to avoid simply paying their fair share and living with some societal disruption. Who cares what you call anyone? Pay us living wages. You will be surprised how quickly people forget grievance when they are not hard pressed financially on all sides- with fines and fees and deductibles and late fees and extra tax and school activities are always extra money etcetera ad infinitum, reductio absurdum.
David Godinez (Kansas City, MO)
The word "Latinx' sounds a little silly to me, (and also looks like a misspelling), but it's not going to matter what word any Democratic candidate uses as long as the Republicans continue their asinine false characterizations of Hispanics and attempts to limit their, and other minority and ethnic groups' vote. I don't have any hope for the President to be changing his ways, but one of these days his party is going to recognize the one-way electoral street they're driving down, and reverse it. As Mr. Douthat points out in this column, the cultural and financial conservatism of many Hispanics is more a fit for the Republicans than the Democrats. Maybe it will take a huge political defeat next year to finally get that message, and then four years of cultural radicalism from a Democratic administration to enable them to take advantage of it.
ss (nj)
Thank you, Ross. Your observations are spot on. While progressive activists may have the loudest voices, they are not the majority of Democrats and certainly don’t speak for many of us liberals. They have taken political correctness too far, and are hurting, not helping our party. Enough already!
Thomas (Washington DC)
Trump is mistreating whatever-you-call-them in droves, but by all means let's be diverted into a discussion of what to call them, because we have to settle that before we can deal with the elephant in the room? Puleeeeez....
Yuriko Oyama (Earth-616)
There are many posts deriding the author for making this a "big deal" and sabotaging Warren. A quick sweep of Google News shows it is a big deal considering many op-eds and statistics are heavily weighed against those who use the X at the end. If anything, this article and should be a cautionary tale for those on the left on how to talk to Central Americans, South Americans, Caribbean Islanders, and to an extent, people from the Phillippines. Yale Prof. Cydney Dupree and her collegues analyzed decades of political speeches and conducted experiments to determine if there is bias when communicating with racial minorities. Per their report, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, conservatives generally addressed whites and minorites the same, while liberals were more likely to tune their speech and "patronize minorities steroetyped as lower status and less competent." Dupree asserted that while liberals are well-intentioned and see themselves as allies, they are unwittingly exercising paternalistic attitudes. Moreover, when Fusion and Mitu posted videos explaining to viewers why "Latinx" should be the new standards they were flooded with negative reactions/comments and people stated they prefer to identify by country of origin. There is the ongoing excuse that language changes, evolves with time, and using X at the end is a natural progression. This is certainly not any of those things. This is a blatant shove on telling people on how to speak.
RED (Northboro,Ma)
Does anybody care about this non-sense ? Does anybody think that this term will attract or subtract votes from the democratic candidates ? Unless democratic candidates discuss substantial issues, they will loose the next election too.
Steve (New York, NY)
We should at least pronounce it Latinequis. Any pronunciation that involves the English pronunciation -ex at the end is sheer cultural/linguistic imperialismos.
Cornflower Rhys (Washington, DC)
Donald Trump calls Never Trumpers "human scum" and refers to refugees as "animals", but we're supposed to worry about "Latinx, Latina and Latino?" Seriously?
Jude Parker Stevens (Chicago, IL)
Ross, you’re clueless on this one.
Cary Fleisher (San Francisco)
Sorry folks, but on this one, Ross is spot on. You may not think this is an important issue but if LatinX loses more votes than it gains, you bet it's important.
Martin Vega (New York)
I would take Douthat’s comments with a grain of salt. His positions as a conservative Catholic opposed to abortion, homosexuality and the LGBT are well-known. Thus, it is no coincidence that he would criticize Warren on this issue. To the public at-large, I would say two things: 1) Who knows what the ultimate outcome what will be of the Democratic’s choice for President, but a Latino Decisions/Univision poll in September 2019 showed Warren to be doing pretty well among Latinos, and running second or third on particular policies garnering the young Latinx vote. That is just to reinforce the point that Douthat's comments demonstrate his ignorance. Insofar as the Latinx research he cites, I am concerned that this research is being pedaled as authoritative. A key thing to note is that the number of Latinos who responded to the Latinx identity question in that survey was just 15 respondents, which doesn't pass muster for a national study. In 2015, a ground-breaking study by the by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that "more than 12% of religiously unaffiliated millennials identify as LGBT (...) 6% of Latino Catholics ... and that Democratic millennials are significantly more likely to identify as LGBT than Republican millennials (10% vs. 2%)". Clearly, Latinx's impetus is being driven by the young, more tolerant and diverse generation, regardless of who is president.
Wherever Hugo (There, UR)
Eliz Warren's problem, shared by everyone, ,,, is the use of the term "latino" and now .... even more irritating.... "latinox". The persistant drive to classify each and every soul into a uniquely "diverse" pigeon hole and then restrict that soul to that characteristics of that pigeon hole.....is a trap. ... Latino....as accurately as I can define it......means you are a spanish-speaking, Catholic, that loyally votes democrat. 1. Stop speaking spanish at home....nope....no longer "latino". 2. Go to the 7th Day Adventist instead of Catholic Mass.....youre out of the Latino Club. 3. Vote for someone other than a DNC hand picked democrat.....turn in your Latino Card. .... It would be far more successful for Elizabeth Warren to address everyone as "american"......which is an INclusive term.....as opposed to an EXclusive, divisve term such as "latino".
El Guapo (Los Angeles)
Much ado about nothing. Please write about something else. This is coming from someone with a Spanish name.
Hugo Furst (La Paz, Texas)
Why not say, "Latinas y Latinos?" I mean, is that so hard? (Please, though, practice so your accent is better than Beto's.) I hope the true blues do not heed Ross' admonition, since "Latinx" is tailor-made to woke many Hispanic to the truth that progressives rank gender identity and sexual preference above every other dimension of a person's identity or drivers of socioeconomic disparity. And, BTW, what of progressives' claim to celebrate cultural differences? I mean, their attempts to gender-neuter English pronouns are the butt of many jokes already. Do true blues really want to repeat this losing tactic, throwing their gauntlets at the feet of all Romance languages?
midwestcentrist (Chicago)
I'm a Venezuelan-American. I think Trump is Chavez coming back to torment us from hell. I despise him. But the Latinx thing makes me crazy! When I first heard it I felt like a bunch of white kids got together in a college classroom and decided they would give us a more politically correct name. But no one invited me to this class. Every time someone says Latinx they create a Trump voter!
American (Portland, OR)
This is how many women feel, as well. Discounted and re-named, without consultation or care for our needs and priorities. I have not noticed the transwomen coming out in favor of period equity, maternal compensation, childcare or breast cancer. Perhaps we have different issues because we are different things?
The Hang Nail (Wisconsin)
Ross, is right in that this represents Warren's academic background. On college campuses her rhetoric would be seen as normal. We can be critical of her ability to connect with non-academic crowds, but it seems silly to beyond that and say she is "pandering" or disrespectful of Latinos. She is literally caught between a rock and a hard place. If she uses "Latinos" she faces backlash from progressives. If she uses "Latinx" she faces backlash from the conservative PC crowd. I imagine Warren can feel a little like a Trump supporter when she wonders to herself, "why are they so up-in-arms about a term I am using?"
r mackinnon (concord, ma)
Oh, so now you are an expert on Latin culture and can confidently say that "few" would use Warrend's terminology? (High school grad Hannity, expert on everything, does the same thing.)
r mackinnon (concord, ma)
@Ted Pikul Nah. I'm just pointing out the tediousness and laziness of self-expertise. Not actually anointing myself an expert on anything. I leave that to these guys
Gustav Aschenbach (Venice)
Really, this is "an issue?" White educated liberals use "gender neutrality or nonbinariness in place of a cisgender heteronormativity?" Scandalous! I thought "The Onion" went out of business. Sure, Douthat, we'd much rather be called "rapists and murderers" and have our nationality questioned when we're not loyal to Dear Leader.
Fresno Bob (Texas)
Yes, that's right, let's get all bent out of shape, Ross, about whether Warren has got just the right ethnic label, when we have a president playing white nationalist identity politics, who has, as a policy, taken literally thousands of young children away from -- let's call them Hispanic -- migrants, and put them in pens, with no way to unite them with their parents, and who has succeeded in legitimizing bigotry and hatred of immigrants among tens of millions of americans. Yes, of course, the big problem here is with the use of the term Latinx. Thank God someone in the punditry class has their priorities straight.
Jeff-Bob (Brooklyn)
@Fresno Bob ..... great response!! Epic!!
Mx (nyc)
@Fresno Bob you guys don't get it. We are all on the same side. We all want Trump out. But by using terms that are out of touch with the vast majority of the voting population, we are alienating potential allies and handing votes to the Republicans.
PJ (Colorado)
"Latinx" is another example of Democrats preaching to the choir (i.e. people in their own bubble) rather than to the people whose votes they need to actually get elected. In this case it's relatively harmless but in others it may be fatal.
History Guy (Connecticut)
This is just so petty, Mr. Douthat. Elizabeth Warren is obviously in great shape and has boundless energy for her age. Would you suggest she put on a few pounds and walk slowly around the stage to more closely resemble the more the 50% of people in battleground states who are obese and overweight? Focus on righting the tremendous humanitarian wrongs of your party and leave the petty stuff to Brett Stephens.
Ira Belsky (Franklin Lakes, NJ)
“where a less-bigoted-seeming G.O.P. ...” Keep dreaming. Under Trump it only gets worse ... and will continue to do so. Might as well imagine a GOP increasing taxes on the donor class ... or the dragons in Game of Thrones coming to a zoo near you.
SinNombre (Texas)
How does such a term arise? It was only recently that I began to notice "Latinx" creep into the language. But who made up this term and why? I can only imagine it was born in a gender studies program somewhere, where extremist faculty members whose day consists mostly of denying that gender exists and insisting you not only believe it, but love it. One of the obvious reasons the term isn't utilized by actual Hispanic human beings is because their native language, Spanish, is irrevocably gendered. This must drive these extremists crazy.
Betty (Pennsylvania)
@SinNombre In Argentina and I believe also in Chile, progressive young generations are using "inclusive language" for example, they use instead of "todos" ( all, everybody) they use " todes". And yes, for me , that I am from an older generation it sounds ridiculous, but for them it is a revolutionary statement
Bobby from Jersey (North Jersey)
Like Shakespeare says what is the problem with the over-educated white chattering class: "He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous".
Golden Bear (California)
I can’t stand the word latinx. I am a college educated millennial, Latino who sees latinx as something being pushed by a group of cultural elites who are taking cultural “superiority” to a whole new level... by telling a group they don’t belong to that their language/culture is wrong. What is next... Romance languages have gendered constructs... do we eliminate that by having everything end with an “x”? Gato becomes gatx so female cats aren’t minimized? Or tortuga becomes tortugx for the male turtles? Or maybe we should all just speak God’s language, English, so as not to offend the woke crowd with gendered language constructs? I won’t vote for trump. He is a disaster. But any candidate using latinx... you’re making me vote for you with a pit in my stomach. Respect the culture, respect the language, and quit trying to “fix” others.
alyosha (wv)
@Golden Bear Go Bears ! (Go Bearx ?)
Jose Menendez (Tempe, AZ)
An ugly way to dismantle the default masculine, particularly because in Spanish you could create gender-neutral words using an “e” that can be easily pronounced, as in “latines”. Nevertheless, I must admit that “Chicanx studies” looks better than Chicano/Chicana studies, which discriminated against chicanos with non-binary sexualities. And Chicanitos.
Betty (Pennsylvania)
@Jose Menendez In Argentina and I believe also in Chile, progressive young generations are using "inclusive language" for example, they use instead of "todos" ( all, everybody) they use " todes". And yes, for me , that I am from an older generation it sounds ridiculous, but for them it is a revolutionary statement
Glenn K. (Wisconsin)
You obviously do not understand that the term "Latinx" as well as candidate Warren herself represent part of our Democratic plan to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!
Gonzalo (Sunny Isles Beach, FL)
Being a Latino myself, Latinx sounds to me as an intellectual concoction that has nothing to do with my own identity.
MilaGritosT (New York)
Addressing the patriarchal (ir)relevance of our gendered spanish language is a HUGE issue in MANY Latin American countries. In Argentina many people, particularly younger generations, have been using the gender neutral “E” to replace the male “O” or female “A”. That would make us all LatinE. Definitely easier to verbalize than the “X”. In any case, I respect Ms.Warren for attempting to address this. There might be no perfect term for her to use, but clearly Ms. Warren is seeing us, hearing us, and trying to reflect a contemporary and progressive community... rather than entrenching us in a stereotypically traditional old-school abuelita mythology. Also, what is up with the NYT trying to bring down Elizabeth Warren one banal Opinion piece after another?!?! BTW, I am Argentine... so yes, haven’t just heard this through some random grapevine.
Peter (New York)
Oh good morning, another Warren hit job. (Got it Liz? Don't say "Latinx" anymore). Seriously, let's move on!
Kingfish52 (Rocky Mountains)
Really Ross? This is what you now stoop to in your desperate grasping to find anything to criticize Democrats? Do you REALLY believe that you'll convince any Latinos/Latinas to vote for Trump or any Republicans because Warren is using a word most do not use? I guess the conservative "ideals" truly are dead.
Mario (Brooklyn)
I canvassed my family of Puerto Ricans for this 'latinx'. The responses ranged from confusion, to head shakes and a soft muttering of 'gente blanca'.
Sue (Washington, D.C.)
This column is the journalistic equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns.
todji (Bryn Mawr)
If Democrats use a term like LatinX how will they ever compete with the Republicans, who describe Latinos in outright racist terms? What shall we do?
Silly (Rabbit)
The simple fact Ross is that groups like the American politica; estabishment, and mainstream media groups like the NYT are frankly way out of touch with the average American. This is why the last three presedential elections have been on by Obama, Obama, and Trump.
PJABC (New Jersey)
Because she's insincerely, constantly apologizing white liberal. She's the original Rachel Dolezal. She has fraudulently lied about her race to get ahead, effectively gaming the system by duping the bleeding hearts who run the oppression olympics. And then pretending to lift the people who's remedies for oppression she herself has taken advantage of.
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
Slow News week, Ross ? This is a a tempest in a taco bowl. Seriously.
Joseph (Fayetteville)
Instead of using Latinx, Warren should use the term Republicans use: "illegal immigrants".
Mike (NY)
She’s Native American, remember? She knows all about multiculturalism. My wife is “Latinx”. I’ll have to let her know. I’m sure she’s never heard the term. Just another case of the Democratic front runner making a fool of herself.
Dan Styer (Wakeman, OH)
Mr. Douthat must be desperate: he devotes an entire column not to policy, not to values, not to character, but to vocabulary. I remember getting vocabulary lists in tenth grade, but that was a long time ago.
GP (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)
Latinx is to Latins what Ms. is to females. Once an odd construction, now so commonplace it is no longer noticed.
Mbb (NYC)
@GP Not that this is a huge deal in the grand scheme, but "Latinx" is an attempt to create gender neutrality. In contrast, the purpose of "Ms" is to allow women to not be defined by their marital status i.e. "Mrs vs Miss". I am getting older now, but do not recall a particularly large amount of drama surrounding Ms entering the lexicon as the connotation is much more intuitive and obvious.
Sci guy (NYC)
@GP Who are these "Latins?"
Bananahead (Florida)
The wokes should try: "Our Hispanic brothers and sisters". Also don't call Chritopher Columbus a mass murderer. He is quite popular with Hispanics, who quaintly still think he "discovered America" and was the Admiral of the Ocean Seas. It won't get you any Hispanic support to go down this strange path. I am trying to help the wokes.
Sara C (California)
The real crimes here is someone burning their precious time writing this opinion, and The Times taking up column space with it! As with all words, usage over time will define it. Wherever Latinx will die on the vine or not is TBD. Meantime, its use is not quite Woman Bites Dog worthy.
Scott (Bronx)
Congrats to Ross on winning the bet that he could write an entire column about the burning issue surrounding the word Latinx.
James S (00)
Most liberals don't use the term "Latinx" so I don't see how it's a liberal problem.
Exasperated (Texas)
This is why the democrats are going to lose. Is this really what we want to focus on? How many people really care about this, especially in middle America? Latino, Latina, Latinx. It’s a word. (To be nit picky, it’s not a phrase...) This type of article reflects poorly on the New York Times.
Norma (Albuquerque, NM)
@Exasperated This is an opinion column and only reflects Ross Douthat's opinon, not the NYT's.
Al (NY)
Ok, Ross. Good observation. But did we really need an entire column devoted to this? Of course not. You can stop shaking you fists at the proverbial kids on skateboards.
Phil (New York)
Another tempestx in a teapot.
Rob (SF)
The difference is one is trying to be respectful; the other is hateful. Nothing to see here. Move on.
Terry (California)
Why does this guy keep demsplaining when his own folks are off the rails?
Steve P (Baltimore)
My left leaning Dominican born wife thinks it's nonsense, and this left leaning WASPY dude agrees.
Warren (Brooklyn)
I wish the Times would run something about Elizabeth Warren that is not so plainly slanted against her candidacy. Today's op-ed page is overt and over the top, including this silly piece
Norma (Albuquerque, NM)
@Warren This is not the NYT's opinion. It is Ross Douthat, who has been an Opinion columnist for the NYT since 2009. The NYT expresses the newspapers views in editorials not opinion columns
Rufus Collins (NYC)
Since he began campaigning, President Trump has demonized Latino immigrants as “criminals.” He has called them “rapists,” drug dealers, “animals” and “bad hombres” who “infest our country.” Southern poverty Law Center - May 17th, 2019 And you’re sounding the alarm about “Latinx,“ Mr. Douthat?
Revoltingallday (Durham NC)
Ever notice political correctness only works one way. If I encounter a bigot, according to bigots everywhere, I should not tell them they are being bigoted. I have to use all kinds of excuse-making language about “educationally challenged” and “raised in areas where there were no Latinos” and “narrow-minded because of limited life experiences.” How about we just put aside political correctness and say “you are a bigot.” I am sure we will both feel better. Latinx is no worse or better than any other Spanglish word that worked its way into a code-switching vocabulary. Warren would do well to dispense with it for exactly that reason - it’s not Spanish, it’s not yet proper English, and may never be. My guess is it will go the way of Medicare-for-All - a parlor game for navel-gazing liberals.
Joel Stegner (Edina, MN)
Better than calling them “drug dealers and rapists.” Hate filled words are far, far worse. Democratic purity tests are so tiresome. Democrats support Hispanics, while Republicans consider them an invasion. Let’s get real!
Maggie (U.S.A.)
Can't wait to see what the snowflake woke "help, I'm cisgender" millennials do to the French language.
Dra (Md)
Why is Ross making up problems for the Democrats when he can’t face the rot in his own party and church.
Matt (Oakland)
‘... “Latinx” sounds like neither normal English nor conversational Spanish, and it looks like what it is, a word designed for ideological purposes rather than for felicity in speech.’ Ross: I think you meant “facility” instead of felicity. No?
Still Waiting... (SL, UT)
Lantinx make no sense if you actually understand how romance languages work. I get what they people promoting it are trying to do, but in romance languages everything from a chair to a mango is "gendered", that is just how the grammar works. Sure call people what they want to be called. I support that idea. But until I hear someone speaking a romance language specifically ask to be called Lantinx, I am going to stick with how the language is actually spoken by nearly everyone who speaks it. If that day ever actually comes I gladly call them whatever they want.
Jim D (Colorado Springs, CO)
This is a great example of a big difference between modern Democrats and Republicans. Trump can retweet white supremacists and mock disabled people in public and gets cheered by his supporters, while Democrats make tiny etiquette errors and get blacklisted.
Gabriel (Rock Hill)
@Jim D Latinx is not an offensive word. Also latinx has been adopted for some hispanic millennials and z generation as self-identity. The clear problem of using that word as it states the article "it is not English nor conversational Spanish". so for older generations and for the RAE is a word hard to digest.
joel bergsman (st leonard md)
@Jim D Here we go again. Hillary was "the most highly qualified person ever to run for President." She may well have been highly qualified to BE President but she sure wasn't qualified to RUN FOR President. Now we have "Progressive" voters arguing about how folks that don't like PC speech are wrong. But that ain't the issue; the issue is does it gain or lose votes. Sorry to all the purists but do you want to get rid of Trump or have him for four more years? Would you rather be right with a losing candidate? WAKE UP FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE.
Gustav Aschenbach (Venice)
@Jim D It's the "liberal" media's obsession with being "both sidesism." To do so, they must create false equivalencies, so "both sides do it." You know, wearing a tan-suit is equal to treasonous behavior. Investigations that find nothing are equivalent to investigations that create an avalanche of irrefutable evidence.
Alix Hoquet (NY)
"But just as often the language of P.C. has more to do with imposing elite norms of discourse on a wider population that neither necessarily wants them nor fully understands their purpose. " Imposing? She’s using a word. She’s not asking you to use it too. It’s still your choice, Ross, not an imposition.
Mmm (Nyc)
PC-speak is interesting. Because it's really only an issue of policing public speech, PR, corporate speech and, nowadays I suppose, social media posts. Otherwise, no one talks like that in real life. So PC-speak just has that sense of Newspeak (an artificial vocabulary mandated by the powers-that-be) and Doublespeak (obfuscated meaning). I instinctively resist being told how to think by our progressive overlords or that seeing political ads on Facebook too dangerous for my sensitive ears--it's infantilizing. But I also would prefer to live in a world where everyone is free to assert and debate ideas without being told that exploring those ideas is off-limits or out of bounds because of the feelings of the most sensitive among us.
Ricardo Chavira (Tucson)
It's terribly arrogant and presumptous of the author to opine authoritatively without having actually done some reporting. I worked as a journalist for 30 years and just finished writing a book. I would never dream of presenting myself as a quasi-authority absent extensive reporting. Now, as senior citizen and ethnic Mexican, I scarcely pay attention to what I'm called, as long as it's not an ethnic slur. I never cared for the label Mexican-American, Chicano, or Hispanic. Latino is okay. But I accurately identify myself as an ethnic Mexican. I find it impossible to believe that Latinos will turn away from any politician who uses the term Latinx. We are not so simple-minded that we make voting choices on the basis of a word. I like Warren because of the policies and goals she advocates. Warren means well, and that matters a great deal. In sharp contrast, Trump has relentlessly demonized us. He could start using Latinx in his speeches and he would not win over a single Latino voter.
AACNY (New York)
Liberalism has another problem with Hispanics. Trump has made inroads because he has focused on the identities that bind all Americans: Small business owners and workers. While democrats fixate on differences among groups, Trump has managed to find a common thread.
John (U.S.)
After her past attempts at cultural misappropriation, it is no surprise that Warren would once again demonstrate her misunderstanding of our community … we're just potential votes for her, to be discarded and forgotten after the election.
Sam (New York)
I cannot speak to the Latinx issue and the taunt that Ms. Warren inhabits a "hermetic academic-progressive world." How's that for jargon from Mr. Douthat's similarly cloistered room. It is apparent from some of the comments below that Ms. Warren is aloof and has insulted people, and for that she will suffer the consequence of losing their votes all things being equal (which they may not be with Trump as the option). I think Mr. Douthat has been traumatized by the presence of Ms. Warren on the political scene. It's funny actually. He just seems adrift. Ms. Warren, after all, is not a revolutionary. She was a Harvard Law professor! She taught contract law for God's sake. She is not Trotsky. She fits very nicely in tradition of social democracy, a tradition that obviously has withered in this country these past decades. Unless Mr. Douthat is Hayekian, seeing any government intervention as a disguised Communist takeover wherever and whenever it takes place he really should turn elsewhere. Getting back to that issue of "options," I think Reps. Scalise and McCarthy are quite the characters, don't you?
Alberto (Chicago)
Excellent piece, Mr Douthat! You are right on the mark in calling a spade a spade. Warren’s use of Latinx reflects the same political cluelessness she showed when she took up Trump’s bet and submitted herself to a DNA test, a step she quickly followed up with equally contorted apologies to Native-American groups for having taken the test!
somsai (colorado)
Some well deserved words of advice, not sure if they will be well received but they needed to be said none the less.
Edward (Honolulu)
In life you need vowels. They connect all the other letters and smooth things out. Without them there wouldn’t be song or music or rhythm. There would be no Om. There’d be no oomph. We laugh in vowels. We live in vowels. We love in vowels. Please don’t take them away.
S (New York)
"So a politician who uses [Latinx], especially a white politician who uses it, may come across as condescending, jargon-dependent and, well, rude" As a proud Latina, I think its high time our language stopped invisibilizing women, trans- and non-binary people. And I find it "condescending and rude" that a NY Times columnist has decided that "Latinos" and "Hispanics" are generally unenlightened, un-curious about our own complex use of language, and uninterested in being respectful to non-binary people and women in our communities. We are diverse, we might disagree. Some people are cool with being called "Spanish". You know what? You can't lump brown people together, because we are different, and that's okay! But its a deeply *cynical* use of column inches--especially in our current xenophobic climate--- to drum up linguistic "gender controversy," culture-wars style, to cover up for the issues that we know unite us: overcoming virulent anti-immigrant sentiment and border incarceration, fighting economic suppression, improving access to health-care and high-quality education, combating climate change, and (relatedly) undoing the damaging legacies of U.S. intervention in our home countries' democracies in the rest of the Americas.
Jlaw (California)
As a Mexican-American academic, I can honestly say this is a whole pile of nothing. And this article does a disservice by not contrasting the glaring statements towards hispanics on the other side of the presidential run. If any Latino/a/x is upset about Warren using woke language, then I can only imagine what they think of Trump and his Republican Party. It’s safe to say anyone that uses Latinx, in good faith, is most likely not going to cage children or demonize an entire nation of people. I’d vote for a PC sensitive president over a bigot any day.
Bruno F. (Paris)
All the time and energy the US left spends changing and discussing words should be spent discussing and changing realities.
Garry (Eugene)
Ross Douthat, I think the presidential race is very important; but as a Catholic and a conservative columnist, your talents are far more needed elsewhere. You are must relentlessly challenge the Catholic conservatives and other conservatives who still blindly support Trump and who call the impeachment process illegitimate and a “lynching” of Trump. You are must strongly challenge the thinking and choices of Catholic and Attorney General Barr and all the Catholics like him who steadfastly support Trump’s view of this historic impeachment inquiry. At this historic juncture of our nation, you need to be entirely focused on impeachment and upon evidence for impeachment and removal of Trump.
Robert (Michigan)
Ross can’t do that. He knows the Republican agenda is bankrupt and immoral. But he just can’t lose his knee-jerk reaction of parsing everything Democrats say and do that does not meet his ridiculous standards.
Len Charlap (Princeton NJ)
Yet another column that avoids policy. One that is strictly political. It concerns votes, not what policies are good for the country. Reasoning like "Policy X is bad because a few polls show it isn't supported by a majority" just don't cut it. I don't mind a few columns like this, but when has Douthat written a column that looks at facts and history? PS The most recent pool on M4A for I have seen waas from Hill.TV and the HarrisX polling company. It found the 70% of Americans supported M4A. (https://thehill.com/hilltv/what-americas-thinking/412545-70-percent-of-americans-support-medicare-for-all-health-care) so Douthat doesn't even have his few facts correct. Sure if you add negative info like "And it will eliminate private insurance", the amount of support decreases. But suppose you asked, "Do you support M4A if it means giving up your private insurance, & it would seriously cut the cost of healthcare for the average person?" What do you think support would be then?
Mary (Charlottesville VA)
Could someone please explain how "LatinX" is pronounced? I have seen it written occasionally, but never used in speech. I don't plan to use it but would still like to know what is the "correct" pronunciation for it. Thank you.
Josh (NY)
Warren will need to get an alliance of people of historically-victimized identities to vote for her if she wants to have a shot at beating Trump. She needs to demonstrate that even though she is a cisgendered white woman, she can be an ally of other identity groups in the United States. Using the word Latinx is a way of doing that.
Sci guy (NYC)
@Josh Why not simply appeal to all Americans?
badubois (New Hampshire)
"Why is Elizabeth Warren describing Latinos with a term that few would use themselves?" Because it makes her and others *feel* good. Nothing accomplished, nothing resolved, nothing helpful. But it makes her and others *feel* good. The Democratic party slogan for 2020, I imagine.
Katrin (Wisconsin)
As a German-American, I try to call people what they'd like to be called (I dislike "white," for example), and it's usually better to start out formally and be invited to be familiar. So, start with Native American and use Indian if invited to do so. Start with African-American and use Black if invited to do so. Rinse, repeat. Ross Douthat seems to be running out of actual issues to write about.
A. Vining (Constance, Germany)
I just had this conversation with a Latino friend last week and was surprised to find he felt the same as Ross does here. I'm a white academic, so I'm in the bubble Ross describes where Latinx is common and widely considered to be more inclusive than Latino/Latina. The perspective I see from inside this bubble, that I think is sadly lacking from this article, is that Latinx is not being promoted by white people, but by LGBTQ folks - especially those who would otherwise identify as Latino/Latina. Of course the majority of Latinos don't know and don't care for the term - its new and weird and resisting changing language isn't specific to skin color. But you don't have to be in the academy to see Latinx taking hold; queer communities of color are using the term all over the place. It's just the universities where they find the most open-mindedness and support. How pervasive Latinx should become is a complicated subject, and the point Ross makes about how it might be alienating the broader Latino community is valid. I find it disappointing, however, that this article fails to even acknowledge what I see as the motivating force behind its adoption: recognition that not all Latinx people want to be gendered by the language used to describe them.
Chuckles (NJ)
Thanks New York Times for finding a Latino/Latina/Latinx columnist! Was just about to write a letter to point out the glaring lack of one (the occasional guest items, from prominent Mexicans and Brazilian letters from Rio don’t count) I was not aware Ross fit the bill, but I guess conversion to Catholicism is a qualifier. Looking forward to his DACA and immigration support columns, as well as subsequent ones on public school support in Latin_ majority communities, and minimum wage laws, core issues important to the community.
Mark Thomason (Clawson, MI)
Douthat seems very afraid of Warren, judging by his constant hit pieces on her. Good. That's what I want to see, someone who makes Douthat and insiders like him very afraid. As for Medicare for All, better aim high than tell us it can't be done. That was the approach last time, and the approach Douthat wants.
Alexander Menzies (UK)
Similarly, why does she call Al Sharpton a "friend", as she did when Sharpton and Trump were having a spat? As Glenn Loury wrote in the NYT, why side with either? She's great in so many ways, but seems to have an infantilizing take-me-to-your-leader approach to non-white groups. It's the flip side of the coin that, on the other side, reads "Deplorables." Like there are clear and objectively right ways of thinking and wrong ways of thinking and that she needs to demonstrate that she knows what they are even though they change every year (so much for objectivity).
blgreenie (Lawrenceville NJ)
With more exposure, it's clear that Elizabeth Warren is a creature of out of touch academics at Harvard than she is with her own humble beginnings in Oklahoma.
Joe (Portland)
Seems like a small potatoes issue but it's not. The generation that votes looks at this stuff with cynicism, which is the language of "Trump." Dems... please, I beg you, focus on nominating a candidate who can win PA, MI and WI. Very basic stuff here. I know this is dull, but Biden and/or Klobuchar hold the best chance for actually winning back the White House. Warren is this year's Michael Dukakis.
Joseph (Ile de France)
I'm half Puerto Rican and do you know what I want to be called? Someone who helped end Trump's presidency by voting for someone whose views and ideas can evolve with the times. Warren can and will do this so sorry Ross, not much to be concerned with here as you are dabbling in insincere identity politics that hopefully is not fooling anyone.
Ben (NY)
What Gaslighting: the problem with Democrats is their offensive and derogatory language? Really??? Ross no longer even attempts to provide a conservative view of things, just a criticism of democrats.
TDHawkes (Eugene, Oregon)
I am a 63 year-old-white lady. My portion of the Boomers has been striving to learn to respect people who are not white for decades now. We try to listen. We know these other folks need to be centered in any conversation and treated as equals. This is one reason the Right is so mad at us. We keep trying to make the tent larger or at least have satellite communication between tents while the Right keeps trying to either destroy all tents not their own or build walls between tents. Now attempts at outreach=pandering, no ifs, ands, buts, or nuance. So, what is the difference between pandering, and trying to respect people who are different than you are? Well, you listen. There is a group of people of Hispanic origin who call themselves Latinx. If I call them Latino, I am a racist white person. If I call them Latinx, there is a chance we might communicate. There other Hispanic groups who call themselves Latinos or Latinas. If I know what they call themselves, I just try to go by what the person I am trying to communicate with wants. White people have imposed their names for other ethnicities like dictates from above for as long as whites have had hegemony in this country (we won hegemony through war and chattel slavery). We should probably just keep our mouths shut in general and listen.
b fagan (chicago)
Some progressives complain that people like Biden aren't woke enough. Two time President Obama says give "woke" a bit of a rest and try paying attention to all Americans collectively for a while, in a good column by Clarence Page. Column: Barack Obama is right about giving ‘woke’ culture a rest. Will progressive Democrats listen? https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/clarence-page/ct-column-barack-obama-woke-cancel-culture-page-20191101-is2efucd55de3imffpq33mbbm4-story.html Page goes on to remind: "Progressive Democrats should pay attention, in my view, if they want to avoid the debacle of 1972, when the party’s left, full of post-1960s exuberance, nominated Sen. George McGovern against President Richard Nixon and lost every state but Massachusetts and the District of Columbia."
Susan (Windsor, MA)
Why are you writing about this? Of all the subjects offering themselves up to your punditry, why this? If you yourself were of Hispanic descent, or even at a bare minimum a Democrat, there could be some shred of meaning that might attach to your opinion. This is picayune wheel-spinning in a moment of national crisis. ALL Republicans with a platform and a shred of integrity have some work to do, and this isn't it.
Alex Cody (Tampa Bay)
"Latino" and "Latina" simply mean "Latin" in Spanish. Perhaps, then, "Latin" could be the term used. "Latinx" is highly contrived and neurotic.
Monica Berserk (NYC)
I can recall times when conservatives like Ross Douthat wrote patronizing op-eds explaining how liberals were tearing society apart by using such divisive neologisms as "gay," "Ms," and "African-American." Douthat knows very well that using "Latinx" is an attempt at inclusion, acknowledging that we realize now that some people of Latin American origin or descent do not identify as either male or female. Inclusion is a goal for which we should all be striving, though I certainly can understand why that concept is so terrifying to conservatives.
Lara (Brownsville)
Poor Latino(s), they cannot even choose a name to call themselves. "Latino" is not a name they ever chose, although once upon the time they called themselves Latin Americans. Which is fine. We have been "Americans" longer than Anglo Americans have been Americans and longer than "Americans" was removed from Latin Americans. People in the United States generally do not know that Spanish has been spoken in North America nearly a century longer than English. Why are there thousands of Spanish names in the territories that are now the United States of America? We have been demonized as "immigrants" and "illegal" at that. We used to be Hispanics because our language and our culture mostly came from Spain. Then, at around 1992, we became "Latinos." The old antipathy for Spain removed "Hispanic" from the language. Yet, Hispanic, is gender neutral and Elizabeth Warren, a Progressive politician and others like she, should be well advised to use it. Let Italian Americans be called Latini or Latinox.
MEM (Los Angeles)
As is so often the case with Douthat's political opinions, the tail is wagging the dog. Until Douthat becomes a Democrat, his convoluted criticism of Democratic candidates is just another way for him to support Trump, who prefers referring to Hispanics as murderers, rapists, drug dealers, and terrorists rather than Latinx.
juan e albornoz (Jersey City NJ)
Jersey City, with a very significant hispanic population, within a county with a signficant hispanic population, with one US Senator and one US REP. both of hispanic descent, would never see a candidate using such a ridiculous term. It tells you how distant is this woman from the latino/hispanic vote.
Joseph Huben (Upstate NY)
Grasping for straws has become the newest symptom of Conservative death. Watching Kellyanne and Scalise screeching identical talking points has become the Trump and friends only speech. Alternate facts and alternate reality are just crazy talk. Latinx?
oldBassGuy (mass)
Liberalism, Latinx, …. Ill-defined to the point of vagueness and vacuous. Use of labels is intellectually lazy. If Warren's misuse of 'Latinx' is her biggest sin, I'll take it. This rises to the level labeling me a 'Mick' (Irish ancestry). Who cares. Let us instead focus on really serious issues such as Hilary's emails.
John (Crystal Lake)
This is exactly why Trump will win and its killing me
Patricia Herron (Charlotte, NC)
While the columnist's complaints about the use of the word "Latinx" may be valid, why does the column start by equating its use by Elizabeth Warren to Donald Trump's bigoted language regarding Hispanic people? Stay away from the false equivalencies and, even in opinion pieces, stick to responsible journalism.
Paul Berizzi (New York City)
To avoid awkwardness, why not just say Hispanic? It’s gender neutral and accurate.
J.Sutton (San Francisco)
Making a mountain out of a mole hill - that old expression is appropriate here.
n1789 (savannah)
Latinx, a wonderful example of how crazy and how far academics of a liberal bent will go to satisfy the extremes of feminism and identity politics.
Fran (Midwest)
Be inclusive and respectful of all "identities" but, please, spare the grammar, even if you find it shocking that masculine is grammatically stronger than feminine. There are more pressing matters that need to be taken care off; leave the language alone, please.
Mark Merrill (Portland)
Gotta hand it to Mr. Douthat here. If it was possible for a conservative to more unwittingly get himself a laugh-line, I don't know what it would be. Stick to what you know, Ross; Latin culture clearly ain't it.
Bill (Washington Heights)
Oh good god....who cares about such minutiae except the chattering, conservative class. Issues and philosophy of governing Mr. Douthat is what matters. Stay focused.
617to416 (Ontario Via Massachusetts)
Elizabeth Warren's tan suit, I guess.
Clara (Orlando Florida)
Wait... it's not pronounced Latin-x? Also ugh performative wokeness is the worst.
Round the Bend (Bronx)
Agreed. Warren is pandering, and the irony is that Latinos don't use this ridiculous term. (Is she better than Trump? Of course. That's not the issue.) Warren is virtual-signaling her credentials in order to avoid being called a fascist, a nazi, and a racist by the P.C. gatekeepers of intersectional wokeness whose job is to strangle dissent. It's a slippery slope, and she has to be careful. She might forget to put the term "cis" in front of "gendered" when talking about herself, and then it would be all over for her campaign.
Nature (Voter)
Stop labeling people and just listen to them.
Iris Arco (Jamaica, Queens)
Latinx sounds very Anglophone and impossible to implement with Spanish grammar. The left is really tone deaf while trying to call us Latinos Latinx. There’s already a neutral gender ending in Spanish. Ever heard of libre, grande, firme, perenne, estudiante, presidente, and so many other words? What’s wrong with Latine?
Will (Wellesley MA)
Honest question: what's wrong with "Latin"?
Lara (Brownsville)
@Will Hispanics are not "Latin." Even if they have been called Latin Americans. But, the "Americans" was removed to make "Latins" foreigners. Hispanics have been in the land now called the United States of America longer than any other immigrants. So, "Hispanic Americans" would be the right way to call them. Most Americans do not know that the oldest city in the United States is San Agustin of Florida. Why is Florida called Florida? California, California? Etc.
LM (New York)
Are you kidding me? You are making this a thing? We have become a country of always offended narcissist. It is not always about you. If she just referred to everyone as American, will everyone will be offended? Of course because she was unable to see what country my ancestors or from, race, gender, real hair color...you get my point.
Zenon (Detroit)
"Latinx" sounds like a White-person's issue, not a Liberal's issue - used by somebody trying to be self-aware and open to the world, but not completely clear on the concept...
Martin (Chicago)
Ok I get it. Latinx is unpopular. It's offending. It doesn't make sense. It's stupid. Takes a lot of gall for any Republican to be writing that given how the current Republican President spews the stupid, and racism, on a daily basis. To the delight of a large percentage of Republicans. Next column, how about revisiting the language of YOUR party, and engage a conservative pollster to gauge people's reaction to those words and phrases? Now that would shine a (very sad) true light on Republicans.
Maria Long (New Canaan CT)
Latin American immigrants like me are not going to vote for a bigot because a woman used a term few of us use. It is not a problem, sorry. P.S. Did you consider how many 18 year olds who do use the term and don't read your column are newly registered to vote in 2020? I think she factored that in.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
Trump stokes fears of "La Raza", who are the hardy intermingled descendants of Spanish men and Native women who survived the plagues of the European conquest of Latin America.
Norma (Albuquerque, NM)
@Steve Bolger You got that right. And, most of us tend to be Democrats...at least in my part of the world.
Jessica C. (Nashville)
First, someone should tell Ross that the language he uses everyday is "academic"(hermetic anyone??) -- he is a columnist for the New York Times. Second, the folks who seem most concerned about "politically correct" language are the white men. I doubt a single LatinX voter cares enough to change their vote because of Warren's use of the term.
Matt (Cone)
The truth is that When Warren uses the term LatinX, she’s not actually trying to reach the people who the term is supposed to apply to but rather the people (white liberals) who think that’s the term she’s supposed to use to reach those people. It’s round a bout pandering and subconscious virtue signaling liberal logic at its best.
rjs7777 (NK)
It’s almost like Warren is doing something she did twice before. Selfishly dishonoring/desecrating minorities as a strategic part of a cynical, entitled effort to get herself a better job.
Dunca (Hines)
It seems that Ross Douthat has a "he said, she said" problem. This argument becomes exaggerated until it appears to the Progressive base that right wing pundits are just picking on a bone just to show that they have teeth. This emphasis on liberals need to exhibit "political correctness" seems like a nod and a wink to Trump's base who abhor the sensitive snowflakes. Meanwhile, I doubt if the Latino/a/x voter gives a rat's nail about what they're referred to as long as they get rid of the provocateur in chief who referred to all illegal immigrants as "rapists", who are "bringing drugs", "criminals and how Mexico is "not sending their best" to the US. I wonder what pronoun Douthat would advocate calling an assault weapon which would please the hermetics or religious fanatics since there seems to be an oddly religious fervor/adulation of weapons within the Republican base. Would it be he/she or just "mi amor"?
Gabby Cruz (USA)
Calling us Latinx is worse than Trump callingbher Pohachontas. He is joking but she actually thinks this is a real term.
Alan (Columbus OH)
For many Democratic candidates and former candidates, their target audience is pretty clearly guilt-ridden white people and not minorities. Why would Senator Warren not use the term favored by the former?
LG (Jersey City)
Here's a thought. Many Latinos don't like this x-thing because we that that outsiders or a very small minority is completely changing and misunderstanding OUR language. How about instead of using the term Latinx, they say Hispanics since it avoids this debacle.
Sean (Ft Lee. N.J.)
Victims "Studies" vernacular, especially white heterosexual male epithet "cis", belonging permanently in language usage dustbin.
Jean (Cleary)
Whatever word that Warren used, here is a basic fact. Most Latinos are appalled at the way their brethren from LatinAmerican Countries have been treated at the border to the South. The abusing of Latino Immigrants, the splitting of Latino Families and the caging of Latino children. This is what they will remember when voting at the polls.
Wherever Hugo (There, UR)
I think it would be far more progressive and positive to simply DROP the "latino" label entirely, Its non-sensical when any logical person stops to think about it. Are we really attempting to make a NYC puerto rican type look the same as a wealthy NJ-Fl Cuban type? does a Quechan speaking Indian from Guatamala really have much in common with a white pick-up drivin' wahoo from Northern Mexico? And those Brazilians? What about all those 3rd generation Japanese people in Peru??? NO. Our census program is completely wrong headed. Time to re-align the whole catergorization process and get it back to what it was intended to do ..... identify the two groups of Americans that still deserve special treatment.... American Blacks(descended from our slaves....not immigrants).....and Native Americans( those who were on the recieving end of our internal wars....not immigrants). Thus: 1. American. 2. Black American(non-immigrant). 3. Native American. 4. Immigrant.(naturalized citizen). 4. Foreigner. PERIOD. No more whining.
BD (SD)
My wife is a Latina. Her first comment upon reading the article was, " who is Elizabeth Warren? ". Lest her comment be considered racist, misogynist, genderist, etc; allow me to reassure all that it was said with humorous irony.
Ruth C Lewin (Union City, NJ)
Soy Latina! I am Puerto Rican. I am Hispanic. Anything but Latinx. Such a foreign sounding word in any Spanish sentence. Like the wrong note on a guitar - screechingly wrong!
DM (West Of The Mississippi)
We have an obvious racist in the White House supported by a party ready to fall for the white supremacy temptation, and we are reading columns on how uncouth it is to use a new term used by Latinos to describe themselves because it is too elitist. My guess is that the “whatever it takes to stop Warren” has started. Disappointing from someone who pretends to be motivated by morality and virtue.
Norma (Albuquerque, NM)
@DM I agee with you in general, except I really don't know any Hispanics who identify themselves as Latin X. Maybe, younger ones might, but I've never heard it...just read it.
Sci guy (NYC)
@DM Terms like "Latinx" and excessive focus on identity politics in general helped get that racist into the White House in the first place.
kim (nyc)
Ross, the head of your party is destroying a 243 year-old experiment called the United States of America. Write about that.
childofsol (Alaska)
Now that Ross Douthat is so concerned with trying to outwoke himself with a new-found interest in grammar, he should maybe try to figure out at what point Republicans stopped using words like extortion to refer to actions like withholding $400 million in defensive military aid.
F Bragg (Los Angeles)
Warren's adoption of the term Latinx is just another example of how personally disconnected and culturally clueless she is about the real world.
Susan in NH (NH)
Why is this so important to Ross Douthat? How about expending a little energy on Republican sins? I'm sure Warren's heart was in the right place and if she erred in this regard, someone on her staff or an academic friend might give her a heads up. But this whole column just reeks of arrogance when there are so many thing that could be criticized about Trump and the Republican party that Ross never seems to find a reason to criticize. Maybe a column on Trumps use of derogatory "nicknames?"
David Gregory (Sunbelt)
All that "cisgender/nonbinary/heteronormativity" nonsense is not Progressive- it is from Millennial Liberalism. Liberal ≠ Progressive. It is right up there with "microaggressions" and safe spaces on the silly scale. As is Latinx. It is a sure way to lose anyone whom you are trying to discuss politics. They might grin, might laugh or might just shake thier head, but you just lost them.
George Washington (San Francisco)
All I know is that my Cuban wife completely detests the term "Latina/Latino" and does not recognize it as a term that describes her. To me the lesson is that gross generalizations like lumping anyone that speaks Spanish as "Latino" is a problem, and even suggesting that "Latin America" is a single group of people is just incorrect. Latinx seems... I don't know - stupid?
John Brooks (Ojai)
Leave it to Ross Douthat to focus on the “real” issues. I believe minorities will vote for Senator Warren as someone they can trust to work in their best interests rather than the actual racist who wants to poison the air they breathe and the water they drink.
stewarjt (all up in there some where)
Why is conservative Ross Douthat always trying to give liberals advice on how they should behave and what they should say? Stay in your own lane, Ross and preach to the converted. No one on the left listens to your "wisdom."
Chip (USA)
Latinx is the English version of [email protected] -- the Spanish abbreviation of Latinos/Latinas, put forward by the "let's imitate American PC idiocy" crowd in Mexico. (You can thank Vicente Fox for pushing that gender neutral barbarism.) The indisputably correct term for Lateen-Ohs or the Hispanics of this hemisphere is the term used in Spain: Ibero-Americans. There is no single indigenous word for the hemisphere because the natives weren't aware that the earth they lived on was a hemisphere. Thus, by accident of history, the word for the indigenous peoples of the hemisphere ends up being "American". The word for the peoples of Spain and Portugal is Iberian. The cultural and biological fusion of all these people is best expressed by "Ibero-American" And no... it is not important that some Germans settled in Chile or some Italians settled in Argentina. Exceptions don't make rules.
AynRant (Northern Georgia)
... just call them people!
jmilovich (Los Angeles County)
The one sitting in the Oval Office made many comments about Latinos that few would use themselves, Mr. Douthat. You demand purity of a democratic candidate but that doesn't make any difference for Donald Trump and his supporters. Get off your high horse already...
Sci guy (NYC)
@jmilovich This identity politics stuff breeds Trump voters... that's the problem.
T.H. Wells (Los Angeles)
Oh my god, Ross, I don't know, you tell me! Why would Elizabeth Warren use a term she's heard is a new way to include both genders in a language with gendered nouns. It's just .... what does Trump call it when he's not saying Mexican immigrants are rapists? ... a disaster! Yeah, that's it, a disaster.
JZ (CA)
Before this article, I had neither read nor heard in speech the term "Latinex" -and I wish I still hadn't. In 2 months spent in Mexico City and Oaxaca last year, I never heard or saw it once. I worked side-by-side with 8 Mexican immigrants in LA for a year and a half and if I had uttered that term one time they would have called me a baboso and made fun of me at lunch break for months. Yet, thank you Elizabeth Warren, for deigning to inform us all of the new, most enlightened, vegan, non-binary college campus safe space terminology from back East. You clearly understand how to signal to the populace. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is dismantling every respectable feature of America's world presence. He self deals and spews obvious lies, maneuvers to benefit Russia, eliminates every environmental protection he finds out about on Fox News, and has spent over 100 million taxpayer dollars to cheat at golf at his own resorts, all the while projectile vomiting his ignorant, hateful word salads at us via Twitter from dawn to dusk instead of doing work. Did you see that he invited the "Covington Catholic School boys" to his Kentucky rally last night? Smirk much? Can the Democratic Party please, please, please produce a candidate who is well informed, curious, affable, and who doesn't eat tacos with a silver SPOON?
George S. (Chicago)
God...what a horrifying term. Can one sound more condescending? Mother of god. Grow up and stop forcing academic ideals on others.
Katrina (Houston)
I am a college educated Latina who has lived in y Latin America for the last three years and Latinx is definitely sharing 50/50 usage with [email protected] for me and my friends/ family. When talking about broader trends and generalizations "Latinx people like me..." I prefer it, but when talking about myself "My family is Latino so..." it is less jarring to use [email protected]
Ashley (vermont)
@Katrina the @ makes sense as its an O and A combined kinda, however, i cant help but think of email. X reminds me of a placeholder, like in algebra (x=?). i think latinx reads better as its less visually jarring than the @, but i have no idea how one would pronounce either X or @ when speaking. trying to modernize the romance languages to be gender neutral seems like a worthy but incredibly difficult cause.
Leo (Dallas, Texas)
I am a 66-year-old Latino of Mexican-American descent. Growing up in South Texas I spoke Spanish first (my parents only spoke Spanish) before learning English in elementary school. I remember, in the late 1960's and early 1970's, the term “Chicano” was in vogue. I didn’t shy away from the term but, when asked about my ethnicity, I would never say Chicano – I would say Hispanic and, if pressed for more detail, Hispanic Mexican-American. I have not sampled how Latinos/Latinas in their 20’s and 30’s feel about this Latinx thing but my gut tells me that Ross is correct: it is a term being bandied about in academia and those darn “liberal elites.” IMVHO, Ms. Warren should stick to mainstream terms if, assuming she were to win the nomination (something that is far from guaranteed), she is to have any hope of maximizing Latino votes come November 3, 2020.
Besar (Berlin)
I agree. I very much appreciate the movement's intention to reform a highly patriarchal language (that's a fact for anyone who speaks or is learning Spanish). However, it's certainly too soon to go public with it. I've been travelling extensively across South America the last couple of years and I never heard someone using this term (apart from left or academic circles or both).
Condelucanor (Colorado)
@Leo I completely agree with you on this, Leo. I saw Latinx for quite some time and originally thought it was a typo. I have a couple degrees and at one point was pursuing a Spanish Linguistics degree. So, I am not unaware of the university environment, but Latinx just turns me off. I'll bet AOC says, "Soy una Latina." Not, "Soy unx Latinx."
Ana (London)
@Besar " highly patriarchal language " Ignorance is definitely very daring. Spanish, unlike English, allows for the women representation: médica, abogada, maestra and so on make crystal clear I am talking about a woman. So woke and all you are doing is erasing women presence from the public arena.
RGT (Los Angeles)
This is not a problem. A President who demonizes the media, colludes with foreign powers to crush his domestic political opponents, gives voice to conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, and racists, orders families ripped apart at the border, declares non-existent “emergencies” in order to secure billions in funding for a useless wall in defiance of the Congressional budget process, upends decades of environmental regulation, and threatens American citizens and states that dare to disagree with him, that’s a problem.
Gunnar (Lincoln)
@RGT Democrats deliberately remaining out of touch to a large block of the voting population is a huge problem. It leads to the problem you described
mbhebert (Atlanta)
@RGT I second Gunnar's point. Sadly, and inexplicably (imo), many voters, including what I grew up calling "Hispanics" will vote for the person who seems most folksy and familiar -- even if that person is clearly racist. Voters RELATE to DT, sad as that is. Warren is hard to relate to for uneducated people of all races and using a new, not-yet-accepted term is NOT helping. As a white person, I absolutely sympathize with the seemingly constantly changing labels. I want to be sensitive to the feelings of others, but even a well educated liberal can grow weary of "keeping up." Please, please, Senator Warren, leave the cool kids' academic lingo backstage. Try to be a little more folksy. Please.
Mx (nyc)
@mbhebert it's not just the uneducated that can't relate to Warren. I have several advanced degrees and find myself cringing at some of her performances. I like her very much, but she likes the common touch that is so necessary to politics
Chris (New York)
As a progressive Democrat, it makes me sad how much time is being spent on petty issues like this. And it reminds me why the incumbent President is likely to win a second term. It is as simple as just saying "Latin people" or "the Latin community" and not require editorials and as of now 592 comments.
Norma (Albuquerque, NM)
@Chris This is not an editorial. It is an "opinion" column. Otherwise, I agree with you.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
The whole US seems to have a problem understanding orthogonality. Conservation and liberation are independent dimensions. It is possible to be both liberal and conservative.
R. Williams (Warner Robins, GA)
I generally agree about the political danger of putting too much emphasis on "correct" language. I taught English in college for years at three different institutions with student bodies that were racially and ethnically mixed with both traditional and non-traditional students. I learned that native English speakers generally hate to have their grammar or vocabulary corrected. Outside of the classroom context, I seldom if ever "corrected" people unless they had asked me to. Even in the classroom, I always tried to make a distinction between formal written and colloquial spoken usage. Non-native speakers are much more open to suggestions for improvement, but primarily because they want to learn English. That said, I found the concluding phrases an clause of your last sentence suggestive of a conservative mentality all too similar to the arch progressive stance that you claim to be cautioning Warren against: "a vote for the new progressivism in full — no matter how many Americans, of all ethnicities, are distinctly unready for its rigors." In all honesty, Ross, ask yourself how many Conservative politicians shy away from demanding voters accept the rigors of their own ideology. While I don't like the extreme political correctness sometimes demanded by the left, I truly loath the hypocrisy of the right when it refuses to acknowledge that the majority of Americans are "distinctly unready" for the extreme ideological rigors of conservatism.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
@R. Williams: Liberty is delimited by negotiation of contracts, and liberals don't bring guns to negotiations.
Daniel McGrath (Manhattan)
I'm not sure Bernie Sanders uses the term Latinx. Everyone wants to drive all discussion of the Democratic Primary toward Elizabeth Warren and not mention Sanders and his aversion to academic syntax, even though Sanders is only polling a few points behind Warren. There are 2 Progressives in this race. There is no basis for arguing that all Progressive Liberals are out of touch with what terminology is in use in the Hispanic community. As many have stated, Latino and Latina are what is used, just like everyone says he or she. When someone says ze, it's obscure-not offensive, but awkward. I may be wrong, but if I want to use a gender neutral term, I say Spanish.
Adam Block (Philadelphia, PA)
I say Spanish when I am talking about people or things from Spain, or the language. Not Hispanics.
bhs (Ohio)
Why do our candidates make themselves weird? Swing voters in the Midwest will decide this election, and they are just looking for a sane, normal adult to vote for. Just be that.
hammond (San Francisco)
This reminds me of the native Americans I've met who refer to themselves as Indians. I get the objection to the 'American' part, as that word is of European origin. But 'Indian' is not only Eurocentric, it's a legacy of European cultural and geographic ignorance. Perhaps there is some intended irony there. In any case, we live in a time of fraught words and phrases. Most of us fear using the wrong terminology to describe people who don't look like us, or who come from less familiar or minority cultures. This awareness is not a bad thing. However, one's lexicon reflects one's tribe, in a sense. When I hear the word 'Latinx' I immediately know a few things about the person who spoke or wrote it. I suspect Ms. Warrren's use of the word, which I have no objection to, even though it's not my place to object or support its use, is motivated by an admixture of progressive tribalism and the desire to affirm the burgeoning rights of people who have long felt marginalized. But ultimately, like my Indian friends, it's also the right of those people to choose how they wish to be identified. I'm not yet hearing a verdict on this matter.
Paul (California)
If there is a late-night style comedy show on Spanish-language TV, it would almost certainly spend some time lampooning Liz Warren "mispronouncing" the word "Latino". I work in a bilingual workplace with blue-collar Mexican-Americans. Trying to deprogram someone's lifetime use of a fully gendered language is an absurd task that crosses into the realm of cultural imperialism. It's hard for anyone who only speaks English, as most of the academics who currently use the term "Latinx", to understand this. But then, these are the same folks trying to push the concept of "heteronormative" on the average public, which is also just as pointless.
David Richards (Washington DC)
A political party that has lost its mojo -- sorry, moj-x -- is almost never willing or able to get it back in a single Presidential election cycle. This column is a potent and depressing reminder that such is likely to be the case again for the Democrats.
Joanna Taylor (Wyoming)
What kind of words would one use to describe and explain the banks and financial institutions that caused many Americans to lose their homes through the bankers' playing not just with words but home owners lives and homes and money? Then what words do you use to describe a woman who has fought and is still fighting for families who need a place in which to live? Does it matter really that she is masculine or feminine or you want to put an "X" after her description?
JB (Brooklyn)
As a nuyorican (new york born hispanic) i can not overstate how much i hate the term latinx. None of my spanish (or spanglish) speaking friends use or like the word. the spanish language, as well as our indignous langagues, could provide much better terms. Latinx is just english term used by people pretending to know something / care about our cultures when they clearly dont.
Garry (Eugene)
@JB Could someone also use that term believing it is a respectable way to reach out to Latino and Latina voters? Could someone just be misguided or wrong without being uncaring?
Norma (Albuquerque, NM)
@Garry It has been discussed in the media ever since the last election, and here we are again...still having to read and hear the same discussion. If Hispanics have the intelligence and the right to vote, they don't need to be pandered to. It is not helpful.
Kenneth Johnson (Pennsylvania)
The Republican Party missed a 'huge' opportunity by not nominating a Marco Rubio-Nikki Haley ticket in 2016. I think they might have won in a landslide over Hilary. It might have taken the 'identity politics' advantage away from the Democrats forever. But that didn't happen. Remember, Republicans used to get a majority of the Asian-American vote.....and Bush2 got about 40% of the Hispanic vote. Republicans need to make more Asian- and Hispanic-Americans a part of their 'base'.....or they're going to be in big trouble going forward. Or am I missing something here?
Kri (MN)
This is such a frustrating article - Warren is not my preferred candidate, but I am struggling with why the NYT seems to be gunning for her lately. Warren is working with a broad diversity of staff, and it would be a mistake to just assume that she's clutching a performative woke term rather than acting on the advice of her team (which includes Latinx people). The term 'Latinx' has, like all labels of identity, different adoption on the ground in different areas of the country. In the Midwest, it's become pretty commonplace. So, another analysis would be that Warren, guided by advice from the community, is using the term with resonance with the community she is speaking to in Iowa. Not cool to sit in an ivory tower in New York, and accuse someone who is paying her dues and listening to people at the grassroots in the Midwest of being out of touch.
SJG (NY, NY)
@Kri Gunning for her? She just proposed a health care plan that will cost tens of $trillions and provided some illusions of how she would pay for it, and the NY Times essentially published her talking points with virtually no criticism. Her plans range from silly to impossible and this paper has done little to investigate any of them. If anything, the NY Times has been far too easy on Warren's plans.
Laura (NJ)
For heaven's sake, our democratic republic is on the verge of imploding thanks to the GOP's widespread misinformation campaign along with voter suppression, purges of the voter rolls, and flagrantly partisan gerrymandering aided by the SCOTUS. Not to mention the inhumane treatment of immigrants and refugees, a total caving to Putin's interests on foreign policy, and a dismantling of our government agencies. But sure, pick on Warren for using the term Latinx. I seriously am at the end of my rope with this nonsense.
dOr (Salem, Oregon)
Really? With all the intractable problems that the United States faces, Ross Douthat chooses to devote an article to the semantical nonsense related in Latinx. Inequality no. Healthcare no. Education no. But Latinx, that's where the nation's future lies. To me, Douthat's discussion says more about the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of America's conservative movement than it does about any distorted notions of political correctness that progressives may have. I'd rather choose the excesses of the latter anytime. It seems that progressives at least recognize that we live in the 21st century -- however complicated and contradictory these times may be.
betterangels (Boston)
For me the "term" "Latinx" is a total turn off. And if only 2% of Latinos say it describes them-- and it is the least popular "label" used to describe them-- then Democrats would be wise to stop using it. Do campaigns still do focus groups? Dems, why don't you put together several mixed ethnicity groups, mostly middle and lower income folks, and ask them what "labels" they feel most comfortable using in their daily life to describe others as well as labels they appreciate others applying to themselves?
Zejee (Bronx)
Young people I know use the term. Language changes.
Cristina Cruz (Oklahoma)
What "someone calls themselves" and what a population/community is called are two different questions. I call myself Latina, Mexican-American, or American. Nevertheless, I endorse the name Latinx, and use it instead of "Latino" and "Hispanic" (something I would never call myself) to describe a population that is (more than culturally) diverse. And I agree with the comments of Alejandro F, I'll vote for performative wokeness over blatant bigotry anytime, thank you very much.
MKR (Philadelphia PA)
What is the difference between (1) invidious discrimination and (2) making a fetish of the distinctions - often arbitrary - used to discriminate? None.
Russell Schmidt (Los Angeles, CA)
While the Republican Party actively courts white nationalists, pursues policies that separate Hispanic refugee families at the border, and deports Latino/a/x soldiers, Douthat uses his editorial platform to tilt at his favorite windmill, academic PC culture. He writes that the term “may” be seen as “rude” - it appears our intrepid writer can’t get up from his chair to find out from some brown people if his thesis is true before he hit the Publish button. I fail to imagine a more effete, elitist stance than opining about the use of this term without a quote from a single person of Latin American heritage. Douthat sees this term as a signifier of electability, because in his minds eye he is the swing voter, a Never Trumper who could also never vote for someone this woke. Push comes to shove, I’ll take some PC hectoring if it ends this madness.
Norman (Sarasota, FL)
As a Hispanic/Latina professional, Latinx is not a term we use and would never use. I don't even like the designation "brown" because it's not who and what we are, and that further reinforces America's penchant for color-of-the-skin demarcations with worth and respect following in kind. So, for democratic candidates--drop the (academic/pundit) LatinX word from your vocabulary and use historic terms like Latin/Hispanic if you must, but more importantly, respect us for what we bring to the American table...and the voting booth.
Alan (New York City)
I do not identify as Latino/Latina/Latinx, but I've heard the term "latinx" floating around my (liberal) college campus. I'm wondering if this is a display of academic, media, and generational divisions.
Cynthia (New York)
If the inventors of this idiotic label intended to create a completely gender-neutral term, all they needed to do was drop the "a" and the "o" from "Latin" -- a term that is not derogatory and makes absolutely NO reference to gender. It doesn't get more neutral than that. Adding the "X" makes the word unpronounceable in both languages, and bothers me more than I can describe. "X" is what you put through something you want to delete, discard, or ignore.
Dov Todd (Dallas, Texas)
I see in the article one example of how not to pronounce the word Latinx, don’t say it as Latin-X. But I see no mention of how the word is actually supposed to be pronounced, and I would have liked to see that. Is the end of the word Latinx more correctly pronounced as in the word minx, with a “ks” sound at the end?
David Henry (Concord)
RD obsessing about this minor issue reinforces and exposes the classic pettiness of GOP enablers.
David J (NJ)
To me, Latinx sounds like a computer operating system. I’m just saying.
Len Safhay (NJ)
This should be a trivial issue, but we "progressives" need to understand that for whatever reason stuff like this drives non-progressives nuts. Ridiculous as it sounds, the 2020 election is going to turn not on substantive policy proposals on one side vs the other, but on how much the average Joe and Jane can't stand liberals and their embrace of "political correctness". As the dolt in the White House would say, "sad". But, alas, true.
EWG (California)
I am unable to fathom the arrogance upon which a demand that language be changed to satisfy the political desires of a few is based. But I am thankful we have not seen more proliferation of such silliness; the default of masculine in Romance languages is as beautiful as the languages themselves. To demand to change them is disrespectful and hubris incarnate.
B. Rothman (NYC)
And Douthat doesn’t find anything politically incorrect or obnoxious and destructive about Trump’s bullying, his belittling, his devoid of meaning and incomprehensible sentence structure and spelling, his self-serving thuggish behavior, his lying, his whining, his anti-Constitutional behavior? And that’s just Trump behavior, Douthat says nothing about the obvious support given to him by his Senate enablers.
Richard Roberts (Boynton Beach, Florida)
President denies global warming, foolishly imposes tariffs, abandons allies, supports despots, uses his office for personal gain, surrounds himself with sycophants, is supported by do-nothing Republican Senators and Congressmen, and all Douthat can write about is "Latinx?"
Mike Jordan (Hartford, CT)
This is a very minor point. You have fabricated an offense from it, and linked it negatively to the candidate you ideologically exclude despite the excellence and clarity of her positions. You do not argue against the positions themselves, but rather speak for fictional creations of your own and report their discomfort (or Ms. Warren's condescension) to us. This is all false, off point, and ignoring your own deep and ringing ideology, coloring every single word you write (nearly), and undisturbed by careful logic. You can be better, Mr. Douthat. I have seen you do it. You, of all folks, have little portfolio to tell anyone else about Ms. Warren's motives (you do not know them) or the Hispanic and Black reaction to her choice of words. Which reaction is not monolothic.
Magan (Fort Lauderdale)
And....BOOM! Another shot at Warren! The hits keep coming from every angle as she fights for her political life against Republicans, "Centrists", Blue Dogs, Wall Street, Corporate 1% types and faux patriots who believe she will usher in communism first chance she gets. Funny thing is...she's not only holding her own...she's picking up rounds in this fight. Those of you on the right and in the 1% might be in for the fight of your life, but don't worry, you will still be able to summer in Monaco and find offshore accounts to guard most of your obscene wealth. It will only hurt a little bit of your pride...It's just a scratch. a little bit of
BT (Bay Area)
Warren has no chance against Trump. We are doomed if she’s the nominee. Nominate someone who really has a chance.
CKent (Florida)
"Latinx" is a reductio ad absurdum meant to signify gender neutrality and mollify the indignation of the politically correct. The term fails to take into account the rules of Spanish grammar (which is decidedly not English grammar), and etymology in general. Spanish derives from Latin, where gender distinction is a fundamental part of the language. Of course Latinos don't want to use "Latinx." It would mean forswearing their tongue and their heritage. Gringos don't get it.
DonD (Colorado)
Douthat accurately describes the origin and rationale for the invented word “Latinx”. I get the point about it made here by Latino/Latina commenters. But if one did, perhaps foolishly, try to speak that word, how should it be pronounced: “Latin-X”, “La-tinks”, or what?
George Olson (Oak Park)
Ross. Why do you do this? Backhanded and not so subtle criticism of Warren. Do you want Trump? Do you want Trump. Of all the things you could write about, you choose this. Do you see her as some Godless wizard who scares you so much that you have to devote so much of your expertise to crafting "advice" to progressives on how they can lose? Under the guise of "what Democrats should do?" How about talking just a "little bit" to your colleagues in the Republican Party about what they could do to constructively help America? You are like a white person telling Black people their problems and what they should do about them. Do you realize this? It is rather transparent. Your time could be better spent.
jrd (ny)
Who knew that Ross is the word usage champion of 98% of Hispanics? I guess anything is better than talking about the misery and injustice promoted by Republicanism and American Catholicism?
KC (MN)
I appreciate that this is a contentious issue and that the term "Latinx" or using an x in place of an a or o in gendered Spanish words is totally awkward and not feasible (some have pointed out the gender neutral e ending could serve the same purpose and realistically function in spoken Spanish). But...when did Ross Douthat become the expert on the issue? Not once does he make even an oblique reference to his own identity or how he's managed to muster the authority to write a piece like this. Ross is a fan of talking out of school about how other people should behave while writing relatively few articles about the chaos of the Trumpists. Stay in your lane Ross. No one cares for your backseat driving.
Traveler (Seattle)
Ross- it is so sweet of you to worry about Elizabeth offending people she is trying to reach. I hope that you are a regular contributor to her campaign.
Candlewick (Ubiquitous Drive)
"Liberalism's problem..." Why doesn't Ross address Conservatism's problem with name-calling: Criminals; Rapists, Drug Smugglers...or better yet- how about some substance on real issues?
Patrician (New York)
How many columns did Douthat devote to Trump calling Mexicans rapists? Should be a proportionate multiple relative to the comparative outrage. Otherwise it’s just a false equivalence The moral bankruptcy of conservatives is staggering. They might as well say: Oh, look there... squirrel.
EF (Philadelphia)
Douthat makes a clumsy connection between two disparate ideas: a superficial analysis of inclusive, intersectional language and his apparent disdain for Elizabeth Warren. Furthermore, Douthat is not a member of the Latinx community or a scholar in the field, and yet presumes to critique this identity. In summary: a projection of personal bias, a refusal by the author to consider that his experience is not a universal experience, wrapped in a bow of genteel ignorance.
Little Doom (Berlin)
Oh, Ross. I'm confident that Warren, in her months of campaigning and meeting literally thousands of people of hispanic ancestry, is navigating her word choices with aplomb and likely adjusting them for wherever she is. She has her ear much closer to the ground than you do. Does the NYT really have no Latinx columnists who might address this issue if it is in fact an issue? What? No one of that description has shown any interest in this topic, as compared to real issues that Hispanics face? Amazing.
Latina (CA/TX)
Why is Warren using that term? Because progressives always think they know better than the rest of us. I’m a Mex-American woman; I despise the term “Latinx.” Please, white/anglo liberals, stop telling us how to refer to ourselves.
RP (NYC)
This is the display of the Woke attack on gender against the Romance language standard of selecting gender for all nouns, people and things. Warren has as much chance of getting Latinos to give up their celebration of gender differences as she has of raising $31T in taxes to socialize US healthcare.
Jane-Marie Law (Ithaca, NY)
It does seem to me that the NYT wants to use its front page to make sure Elizabeth Warren in unelectable. I am noticing a trend to give her only negative coverage, leading us by the nose to the conclusion the paper seems to want us to accept: that we have no choice but to go with Biden. While Warren may be out of touch with most Latinx, I think the people most invested in the election coverage decisions of the NYT (Wall Street? wealthy Manhattanites?) are out of touch with what will fly in the 2020 election. If we end up with Joe Biden as our candidate, we will lose. Stone cold fact, folks. Up here in rural New York, many people who went for Trump can be persuaded by the arguments of Sanders and Warren but the fictive brush with which Trump painted Biden in Ukraine worked. Seriously, do we want our "newspaper of record" leading the circular firing squad?
Norma (Albuquerque, NM)
@Jane-Marie Law If voters in rural NY who went for trump can be persuaded to vote for Sanders or Warren, that must be a pretty big Independent field. For some reason, I had thought there were more Democrats.
Paul-A (St. Lawrence, NY)
Douthat extrapolates that because ONE candidate uses an academic term that hasn't caught on in general parlance that the ENTIRE liberal movement has "a problem"?!?! Oh, puhlease! You must've had a hard time wringing out an entire column from this tiny, ridiculous premise. Mr. Douthat: Language evolves over time, driven by multiple factors, including common parlance, changes in social attitudes, etc. Generational and situational divides are inevitable. Would Douthat write a similar parsing of the use of Negro/Black/African American/Afro-American/Person of Color, if the person using the words didn't happen to be a leading Democrat candidate fo president? Who else is tired that whenever Conservatives spit out the L word they sneer with disdain? Who else is tired of Conservatives making false generalizations about Liberals as a whole, as if one faction of us stands for and speaks for us all? Using Douthat's logic, we could write an entire column generalizing about Catholicism's Pedophilia Problem. Or Conservativism's Bigotry Problem. Or Punditry's Out-of-Touch Elitism Problem. (I hope you saw my disdainful sneer as I wrote those words.) Wouldn't it be nice if Douthat (and his Conservative colleagues like David Brooks and Bret Stephens) approached their job writing self-reflections about their own Conservative movement, instead of telling us Liberals what we're "wrong" about, or what we "should" be doing? Conservativism truly has a Holier-Than-Thou Problem!
AR (San Francisco)
No one in the Latino community uses this bizarre term. No one in Latin America uses it, other than perhaps a few 'activists' oriented to the US and not their own people. I have never seen its use by anyone whose primary language is Spanish. Spanish speakers find it amusing, offensive and idiotic. Rather than "enlightening," the term is self-isolating. It is merely a contrivance to browbeat and a petty way to attempt to claim an alleged superior morality. In fact it is a distraction from the real struggles of Latinos in the US against racism and xenophobia, and for better working and living conditions. It is used by middle-class types as a gimmick for intimidation, to allow them to allegedly "represent" and demand fealty and deference to their personal agenda and demands. What is most concerning is that these self-appointed "progressives" will whip up digital lynch mobs to attack anyone not agreeing to use these "signifiers" of personal pronoun, gender preferences, etc.
John Xavier III (Manhattan)
"... “dismantling the default masculine” of romance languages, centering gender neutrality or nonbinariness in place of a cisgender heteronormativity." I have absolutely idea what this says. This phrase is worse than Latinex.
Curtis Hinsley (Sedona, AZ)
Increasingly the Warren train looks like a ride toward political suicide. I hope some of her people read this piece because it speaks to much larger questions, as Douthat suggests. How could the Democrats be stupid enough to consider nominating her -- the one person who is certain to lose to Trump?
James Osborne (Los Angeles)
It’s almost laughable we are reading and discussing this isn’t it?
Mike Edwards (Providence, RI)
“no matter how many Americans, of all ethnicities, are distinctly unready for its rigors.” They needn’t worry – they’re not going to happen. Such proposals will not pass through the US Senate, regardless of who the leader is. And fully 50% of Americans are stating implicitly that they do want their Government to implement such changes. How on earth, then, do you put in place wide reaching proposals that half the country is against? You need' everyone's support and cooperation for successful implementation.
Francisco Garriga (Saint Louis)
Of course Mr. Douthat could not resist the temptation to say that Medicare for all is likely to be unpopular. Despite overwhelming evidence that Medicare is very popular among seniors, and the inevitable fact that everyone who now uses private insurance will end up on Medicare. If not now, when?
Ann (Detroit)
I am a Mexican American woman and recent grad of a very large public institution with a history of activism. I have seen this term take a foothold in campus organizing within Latino/Latinx spaces. It is challenging to recognize the legitimacy of people's identities when stuck in a Latino/Latina binary, and have seen Latinx used in a way to make these spaces more inclusive. Further, Latinidad is not one big mono-identity. Its a complicated, rich fabric of people, places, languages and norms. It is natural that over time this phrase shifts, especially as generations bring their own perspectives to the conversation. Regardless, I will take a politician being overly cautious to a politician that bears no caution at all.
Alex9 (Los Angeles)
It's always funny to me when pundits warn of the dangers of a hypothetical far left in a country that is currently being governed by the very real and destructive hard right. Trump and his cohort are actively seeking to reverse the relatively weak social justice state we have now, but, sure, let's spend time thinking about a word.
Emma (Boston)
I'm shocked at the comments that no one knows anyone using the term Latinx. While I'm not Latino/a/x myself, in my progressive college bubble I hear people use it as a self-descriptor all the time. While that's not necessarily a reason Warren should use it and I don't want her to be out of touch with voters, I think that Warren would be getting flack for not being woke enough if she wasn't using it.
C Martin (SF Bay Area)
Yes, language matters a great deal — but not in the way virtue-signaling elites seem to think. The tone deafness of Latin(pick a letter) turns off audiences and helps lose elections. Especially against the current occupant of the top executive office, who is a master communicator - don’t take my word for it, see what George Lakoff has to say. While our perceptions are in part shaped by language, language evolution doesn’t happen by fiat, at least not in messy, open societies like one that allow this kind of discussion (and various totalitarian experiments of the 20th century show the limitations of trying to control language). For what is worth, I was born in one South American country, raised in another, and attended grad school in New England. One parent Southern European and the other Northern European descent, both multilingual. I am deemed white until I speak with a non-native speaker accent (heard as Greece, France, Italy except by trained ears). I haven’t been oppressed, except by a totalitarian dictatorship or three. Please, eschew the simplistic pseudo-racial, pseudo-ethnic group labels — they are not intellectually sound and generally degenerate into derogatory code words anyway. And stop asking people how they’d like to be labeled — it’s condescending.
NYer (New York)
Isnt it absolutely wonderful that every candidate from both parties are bending over backwards to court and try and include outreach to every race and culture? Yes, they are self serving in need of the votes, but in doing so even if from less than perfect, woke motives, they are engaging and making promises to all members of our society. Whatever you might say about intercultural 'gaffes', they are an excellent byproduct of the beginning of true political inter-culturalism and KUDOS not criticism to those that take the risk. Leadership means moving forward, not being perfect.
Occupy Government (Oakland)
Part of the appeal of Democrats is their efforts at inclusion. Not once in the last three years has Donald Trump tried to appeal to anyone but his base. Inasmuch as we're all in this together, willy-nilly, I prefer the inclusive view. Together we can fix everything that tribalism cannot.
VFN (.)
"Not once in the last three years has Donald Trump tried to appeal to anyone but his base." Obviously you didn't read Douthat's column very carefully, because Douthat quotes a Trump tweet that "appeals" to "Hispanics". There is even a link to the actual Twitter post.
AZ (New York)
Never heard of this term- and I am from am Latin.
Chris Sandeman (Florida)
I’m not really sure Ross, the author of this piece, was really in the best position to be able to speak to this question. A white man, raised in a white community in Connecticut, attending exclusive majority white students...I doubt Ross knew many Latinos until he got to Cambridge (Ross seems to have decided to move away from home and shun his New Haven option) not exactly a bastion of Latin culture. I just find it really strange to hear him speaking to this when all my Latinx friends use the term regularly to describe themselves and others. I think it’s also generational; older friends might still say Latino, but friends under 40 often say Latinx.
sing75 (new haven)
"...but a vote for the new progressivism in full — no matter how many Americans, of all ethnicities, are distinctly unready for its rigors." If by "rigors" you mean Medicare for all, how about the "rigors" we live under now? The most expensive healthcare system in the world by far, yet 47th in longevity among the world's nations. "...the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, the pocketbook-conscious...." Anyone who's pocketbook conscious and even moderately informed will vote against the party of the billionaires, which Trump now represents. His tax plan, as we all know, favors the extremely wealthy, not the moderate Democrat.
Kate B. (Brooklyn, NY)
It may simply depend on the crowd you hang out with. I’ve heard (and read in online posts) plenty of people I know describe themselves as Latinx— although, to be fair, I’m a millennial in a big city. Actually, now that I think about this, the adoption of the term Latinx may be a very smart move to appeal to my generation and the next one, who do admittedly tend to have a problem with getting out and voting. What’s so wrong about making everyone, whatever their gender identity and ethnicity, feel included? Hey, if it gets my peers and our younger friends to the polls, I’m all for it! Warren 2020!
Max Schling (Albany, NY)
I'm a wasp. But I think about people and how they identify. When Latinx popped up on my radar, knew immediately what it meant and intended. I also knew that Spanish (and all the Romance languages) are gendered; that is, the words themselves, as opposed to what the word stands for, have a gender. My native language and the language of discourse here does not. Conflict! Should I attempt to say "Buenes Aires" the way a native would or how an educated wasp would? Posing or speaking respectfully within my own culture? Is there another choice that bridges the languages rather than creating a new distinction? I've tried out using "Latins" which to me seems a way of moving the gendered word into the ungendered language; it's basically Hispanics. What I don't know is what Hispanic means to the Latins who speak Portuguese or the indigenous languages. This is the best I have right now. Finally, all these terms are the terms of the invaders and colonizers. What of the people of the older civilizations, cultures, and empires of the continent? How do we speak respectable to them?
Bruce Williams (Chicago)
Lumping together hugely diverse cultures of South and Central America, The US, Mexico, Spain and Portugal into a single label is curious and wildly misleading even if politically useful. Not only that, there are significant areas of Spanish and Portuguese activity and influence elsewhere, such as the Phillippines.
Bernie (Sault Ste Marie, Michigan)
I've not heard the word "Latinx" actually spoken. So how is it pronounced? Does it rhyme with "Kleenex?" That was what I thought of as I read the piece. Doesn't seem like a great association to make when speaking of a group of people. Maybe it's just me...
Santiago Torres (North Jersey)
As a latino of Puerto Rican descent, I share the sentiments of many that this is an unpopular term. I had never heard of it until this op-ed, and thought it might refer to Gen-X Hispanics. The Spanish language by default defers to the masculine, but also some words are feminine. Our nouns are gendered and I don't think Latinos want to change that. But then again "Latinx" functions here more as a slogan or specific term used as a substitute for "latinos" in English conversation. It's not actually proposing and being used to change the Spanish language. I agree with Ross that the GOP has an opportunity to capture a large portion of the Hispanic vote, but until Republicans reject Trumpism and articulate a coherent vision to offer the American people, I'm still going to vote for Warren.
Al (Idaho)
The left and the democrats would do well to simply address American citizens as just that-American citizens, no matter their: race, ethnicity, sexual status, immigration status, and on and on. Identity politics has given us the mess our politics have become and played into trumps hand. If you insist on forcing everyone into a group, they will join that group at some point. The only group I want to be part of, is one that wants a free fair country that works for everybody. Speak to making the country fair for everyone and upholding the law no matter who you're talking to and it will go further than continuing the divisive, us vs them, narrative that now dominates our discourse.
Will (Viroqua)
All I know is that the first time I heard "Latinx" it was from my company's diversity and inclusivity specialist, who is Mexican-American and, so far as I can tell, entirely worth trusting in this matter. He acknowledged it as a new term that is gaining acceptance, and that's good enough for me. I'm not sure why I or anyone else should be upset that Liz Warren is making "too much" effort at inclusivity given the opposition.
F. Anthony (NYC)
@Will Maybe because it is condescending and offensive and butchers a gendered language that is part of our culture.
Max (NYC)
@Will One person's inclusivity is another person's pandering. Who decided that "Latino" was offensive?
Reese Edwards (Denver)
I agree that the narrative of what to call oneself or to apply a word intended to be all inclusive can be confusing and even off putting. I’ll allow it may even be unintentionally condescending by otherwise well meaning people. Maybe it even comes across as a virtue signaling “code” word that annoys people. But Ross actually nails it towards the end - if the modern day GOP was less bigoted it may have a chance with less liberal or moderate minority voters. However, that hasn’t been the case in 50 years with the GOP. It can’t quite quit the southern strategy that used code words of their own. The fact that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave threw out the old Republican phrase book only makes it obvious that as long as one political party appears to pose an existential threat to minorities’ essential rights and dignity it will never attract enough votes with policies they might otherwise be enticed to support.
Jackson (Virginia)
@Reese Edwards Well, the only one African Americans support is Biden- what does that tell you.
Juliette Masch (East Coast or MidWest)
Warren and her campaign team appear to pave a new culture norm on a presidential path to go. I see Douthat’s keen point is most potent in the end. What she is trying to do is a new policy making out of obvious political policies able to be proposed during her campaign. For me, x, q, k, sound sharp and hit the edge. Which differs much from all labial consonants. Warren’s usage of the new term, Latin plus x, might aim to create psychological penetrations or appeal to the constituency most familiar to the digital age. I thought of Netflix as specific. Climax also, though a general term, to be phonetically associable to her campaign as a cutting edge drama for a new era, thus progressive. Neologism occurs everywhere and at anytime. People also changed languages or were naturally entangled into, historically, such as Vulgar Latin or an anglophonized Romance language, that became modern French. But, the Warren example of Latin x seems to be a political deliberation as Douthat points out.
Jorge Núñez (New Orleans)
This is so complicated, first the word latinos itself is incredibly reductive. How can one word contain more than two dozen cultures? Cultures I might add, that speak different languages. Yes guys, not everyone in Latin America speaks Spanish. However, as much as my cultural core sounds all the alarms when I hear or read the word Latinx, I understand that it is an inclusive word. And while I don't think I will ever use to refer to myself, I will always say I am Puerto Rican anyways, I can see why it is needed. With that said, here is a tip from a liberal to all liberals, conservatives and moderates, just ask. Ask people what they identify as and respect that.
Anthony (Portland, OR)
I’m a huge supporter of trans rights and equality, but it’s very ethnocentric of the trans community to demand that the entire Spanish language, and by extension Hispanic culture, immediately adopt gender neutral language. They are welcome to use that language amongst themselves, but it’s extreme to force their belief in non-binary language into a Hispanic culture that is by its very nature, binary and gendered.
Rose Anne (Chicago, IL)
@Anthony Interesting...I would agree that Hispanic culture is socially very conservative as well (and in many ways, as another commenter noted, is very compatible with religious, conservative, Republicanism). On the other hand, young Hispanics in the U.S. may be thinking differently.
Mark Thomason (Clawson, MI)
"nonbinariness in place of a cisgender heteronormativity" is a huge problem in the Spanish language. Nearly noun is either masculine or feminine. It applies to everything, not just people, and sometimes seems to me to make no sense at all beyond "that is how it is done." How does a politician in 2019 take that into the Spanish speaking community, and still sound acceptable in the English language discourse of "social media and in academic writing?” They are currently on divergent paths. It leaves a politician with no good options. This isn't just about Warren. Nobody could find good options to please both. If there is a real discussion in Spanish about how to do non-binary in Spanish, I have not heard of it yet.
Matt H. (Lancaster, PA)
Another example of what seems to be the new NYT mandate of bashing on anything progressive democratic candidates (mostly Warren since Sanders in essentially ignored now by the NYT) do. I haven never before felt that the NYT has a corporate policy line, but I sure feel that way now. While I am not a big fan of the term LatinX for some of the reasons Douthat lays out, it seems that when running against Trump, whose policies and rhetoric against Spanish-speaking immigrants are atrocious, this should not be an issue to be concerned about. I know DOuthat is a conservative, so I'm not sure why his assessment of what liberals should be doing is all that relevant to begin with. Still, the NYT now feels like an out-of-touch parent waving their finger in the face of any progressive democrat who doesn't appeal to the mythical "swing voter."
Apple Jack (Oregon Cascades)
Douthat chooses his own appelations for Spanish speaking people & then condemns Elizabeth Warren for making great errors in using a descriptive term & advocating MFA, all while using his own terms, just as possibly offensive, especially his defense of the present failed "health care for profit." Another Douthat attempt to sustain the status quo against needed reform.
Doclaing (Colorado)
I had to look it up. I’m in my sixties and this is the first I’ve heard of a ‘gender neutral’ form of Latino/Latina. I’ve some advice for you Ms Warren. Drop your use of a term that is accepted only by a very small part of the Hispanic community. You’ll only alienate the people you are trying to draw. Latin languages have long used the male and female versions of nouns for a reason. You can’t Americanize the Spanish language. I also suggest you hire advisors from the demographic population that you are targeting for votes. If you can’t do that, you’ve already lost.
RRI (Ocean Beach, CA)
Yet another Warren hit piece from a professional apologist for our neo-Gilded Age plutocracy. It was coming inevitably at some point in Warren's rise in the polls and the fading of Biden's empty suit candidacy. But I still wonder who, exactly, sent up the distress flare to signal these evidently coordinated rescue attempts all at once this week.
Allison (Texas)
Maybe you just hang out in the wrong places. I was at the dog park yesterday and a young guy on the phone walked past me, talking about a meeting. He used the word Latinx as if he were quite comfortable with it. Walking down the street last week, a group of young people passed me, and one of them also referred to Latinx. Get to know a few people outside of your conservative bubble, Ross. Visit some places you might not otherwise, and actually listen to conversations you might not normally hear. You might be surprised at how things that seem strange or off-putting to you are completely normal and acceptable to others.
dvdmgsr (Pennsylvania)
And there he goes again. While the country is in an absolute crisis due to the actions of those on his side of the political spectrum, a crisis that he himself clearly recognizes, Douthat continues to nitpick at the left, this time dumping over 1000 words about the last letter of one word. Honestly, what is Douthat's point? Is it that people like Elizabeth Warren are bad for the welfare of the Latinx (or whatever you prefer) community? That overall the left side half of the political spectrum does not work in their interests? Why would he hint that, in 2019? Sure, he has a valid point or two to make, but what compels him over and over again to write these missives on the superficial details, while Rome burns around him? Whatever effete liberalism might be behind Latinx, and whether or not it's an error for Warren to be using it, let's keep our focus on the player at the plate: the current administration is a shameful abomination of historical proportions when it comes to how it treats the Latinx (or whatever term you prefer) people. Elizabeth Warren is on the mound trying to do something about it, while Douthat stands distracted in the outfield pondering the dandelions.
Michael L Reynolds (Asheville, NC)
Mr Douthat is saying absence of critical comments by the overwhelmingly liberal press is evidence Senator Warren gets preferential treatment in the media. More likely, Trump's disingenuous tweet was excoriated because it is clear he neither knows nor cares about Hispanic 'criminals and rapists.' Senator Warren may have gotten a 'pass' but it was because she knows and cares about Hispanics, immigrants, and Americans on the margin. Her comments were honest in fact and spirit; Trump's were lies.
Raj Sinha (Princeton)
I’m an American of East Indian descent and I generally try to “tell it like it is” - so here are my 2 cents: As an independent voter, my decisions (as an electorate) are always based on issues as opposed to the ethnicity of a specific candidate. I think that voting in favor of a candidate solely based on his or her ethnicity should be construed as somewhat of a non-mental exercise of one’s suffrage. Therefore, identity based terms like “Latinx” can actually accentuate the “OTHERNESS” of Americans of different descents. For example, Julian Castro is an AMERICAN politician and should NOT be considered as just a “Latinx” politician. Let’s “call a spade a spade” - Warren has a propensity to go “over the top” in terms of “Identity Politics”. Let’s not forget her “mea culpa” to the Native American groups for occasionally identifying herself as “Native American” and of course releasing the results of “DNA Test” that turned into a “Cause célèbre” so to speak. I can fully understand that in our, pluralistic and multi-cultural, country of immigrants - our ancestral and cultural lineages are extremely sacred and should always be well respected. Yet over usage of identity based terms for political campaigns runs the risk of being considered as pandering and patronizing. ‘Nuff said
Mala (Massachusetts)
@Raj Sinha Amen. I think this is less a problem with Warren or the word Latinx than virtue signaling in general, and the rational dead-end that identity politics ultimately is.
Susan R (Dallas)
You're using Latino/Latina/Latinx as if these terms were synonymous with Hispanic. Are they? I thought there was a difference.
Andrew Paxman (Mexico)
Another option: Warren could adapt Mexican political discourse ("mexicanas y mexicanos") and address Hispanics as "latinas and latinos". It's sufficiently inclusive to show sensitivity, without sounding more-p.c.-than-thou or preachy. When the Mexican form was first popularised, by Vicente Fox in the 1999-2000 presidential campaign, there was some pushback from people arguing that "mexicanos" is the grammtically correct term of address for everyone, but the new phrase quickly caught on. And is a written shorthand, the also-common [email protected] and [email protected] avoids the unpronouncability and - in the opinion of many (as the comments here attest) - aesthetic questionability of latinx and latinxs.
Dabney L (Brooklyn)
I’m a leftist liberal and lifelong pacifist but I think the hyper-PC environment we’re in now is destroying our culture and country. Still, Warren will be an infinitely better President than Trump and this little hit piece on her won’t sway my vote.
The Lorax (Cincinnati)
Academia is ruining a lot of things, but none more than itself. The quest for diversity in academia is at ABSURD levels. You know who was woke? Like, really WOKE? Socrates.
JamesP (Hollywood)
"Latinx" was obviously concocted by English-only speakers who are ignorant of other languages. Wouldn't that be considered "anglonormative" (lower-case "a" of course)?
Jay (CA)
Ok boomer, as someone working in an academic context I can assure you that it’s coming from younger people of Latinx/Latina/Latino backgrounds who want to make clear that all people are welcome in academia, including trans and non-binary people. The largely white, usually older academics who encounter it often just look confused and/or grumble that there’s a new word to learn, and we often have to explain what it means when we use it in writing to a general audience. Just because you don’t particularly care who gets included and excluded from participation doesn’t mean that others aren’t constantly forced to think about it, especially working in a system where plenty of folks are still told they don’t belong and won’t succeed.
citizen vox (san francisco)
The first time I heard the word latinx was from a Mexican woman in California who was helping our Warren group to translate one of our flyers into Spanish. From the context she used that word, I took it to refer to people from south of our border. That was my cue to copy her use of the word. Now the NYT tells me it's degrading. I'm as progressive as people get without being radical but I do think "politically correct" can be carried too far.
Joe C. (San Francisco)
Latinx is a phony word concocted by guilt ridden gender obsessed gringos. Spanish nouns take one of two genders. Quite frankly, as a non-Spanish speaking of Latin American origin, I find these Anglophone generated terms to be absolutely insulting. French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Rhaetian, ... are all Latin based languages. Was Charles de Gaulle latinx? If not, why not?
Joanna Whitmire (SC)
@Joe C. To keep things in line with the op-ed piece, we're talking here about a gender obsessed "Gringa."or would it be "Gringx"? By the way, isn't the word "gringo" a near pejorative word . . . sort of like "haole"?
Joe B. (Center City)
“Gringos”? Really?
A Little Grumpy (The World)
My teen corrects me when I say Latino. I find it annoying beyond words because Latinx resonates like a linguistic clunker. To my non-Spanish speaking ear, the staccato, music of Spanish seems to rely on syllables ending in vowels for its music. Latinx is stupid. I'm going back to Hispanic. In my bilingual family, we speak a French-English fusion. It's fun and, to us, really cool. I imagine there is a beautiful fusion of Spanish and English going on all over the United States. If we're going to police language to this degree, we better make some more clunkers to mitigate the attack on Spanish English. O ye well-educated, American alumnx of universities great and small! Get on the woke bus! Let's not take it anymore! We know best. Do not delay. This war will be not be won mano a mano. It will be won manx a manx!!
Marie (Providence)
@A Little Grumpy Interesting the the word "mano" in Spanish takes a feminine article: la mano. Much like "dia" takes a masculine article: el dia. I'm just pointing out that mano may not have been the best word to use when poking fun at people for trying to do the best they can in a very complicated world...
Latina (CA/TX)
Please stop using “Hispanic,” too. It’s dismissive of the cultural differences among Latinos of different nationalities and heritages.
alyosha (wv)
@Latina Not to mention that "human" liquidates all of our specificity, lumping us all together in one bowl of mashed potatoes.
Taxpayur (Manhattan)
I don't understand how referring to someone as LatinX gets them a job or protects them from terrorism or gives them clean water.
American (Portland, OR)
Those problems are hard. Arguing over word choice and gender is easy.
Matt (RI)
If we intend to be historically accurate, the word "Latino" makes no more sense than "Latinx", but it has been generally accepted by those to whom it is applied. If Latinx does not catch on, it will be abandoned. Much ado about nothing. Do we not have more important issues to discuss? Would anyone really vote for a racist like Trump because an opposing candidate used the term "Latinx", really??
Candlewick (Ubiquitous Drive)
For once, I am glad the "debate" isn't about what-to-call Black people or African-Americans, Americans of African Descent; People of the Diaspora... it's so refreshing to get a break.
QTCatch10 (NYC)
I work in the nonprofit world, doing community organizing and adjacent work. I had never heard the term latinx until I started doing this work closely with latinx populations, and heard them all using the term latinx to describe themselves. I choose to use words that communities use for themselves. I don’t care what some random assortment of internet commenters have to say and I certainly dont care what Ross Douthat has to say about it. This is one of the most blinkered essays I have read in a long, long time.
HO (OH)
It is pretty hard to imagine someone getting offended or caring about being called "Latinx" even if that's not the term they would use themselves.
Pete (Miami)
How ignorant and agenda centric Ms. Warren is. We are Latinos, both men and women, in Spanish the term is inclusive of both, and saying "Latino" does not exclude women. Stop pushing your agenda on us, don't call us Latinx because we are not.
daniel r potter (san jose california)
Back in the day, late 60's early 70's the word Chicano was as accepted as the Lead Balloon Latinx is.
Gary Steele (Antioch)
I wondered what academic wonk made up that term. I could speculate, but I won’t. Even this 58-year-old white guy knows the generic term in this case is “Latino,” with “Hispanic” running a distant second. I have never heard a Latino describe themselves conversationally as “Hispanic,” either, but it’s better than “Latinx,” which I still don’t know how to pronounce.
Bob (Nirvana)
Redux 1972. .....McGovern again. She’ll win only if a 2008 type financial disaster happens. (It won’t). Clinton (Bill) & Obama knew the country’s pulse was (and still is) near the political center. It’s about replacing an oligarch not political purity.
Mark (Philadelphia)
Elizabeth Warren can’t help herself but pander to minorities. She reeks of the prototypical New England liberal who likes to not only tell minorities what to think, but how whites should think about minorities. From her ceaseless rhetoric about discrimination to misguided policies, which are supposedly designed to mend racism, but will surely just constitute a waste of billions, she doesn’t have a clue. Maybe Senator Warren should get on the ground floor, factories and high crime areas in the inner city, speaking to people of all stripes to better understand the dynamics of race and culture.
Johnny (LOUISVILLE)
Well I guess now that there's a front page NYT article about it we may see it normalizing more and more. Funny how that works...
rodw (ann arbor)
Language changes constantly. "Gay" was not in most people's vocabularies until the 80s. In fact, Latino and then Latina came along later than that. Remember "Chicano"? Get over it!
Latina (CA/TX)
“Gay” came from the gay community. “Latinx” originated from the white community, not from Latinos. There’s a difference.
Lutoslawski (Iowa)
According to this website, the statistically preferred way to pronounce Latinx is La-TEEN-ex. Who knew? https://remezcla.com/culture/right-way-to-pronounce-latinx/
JT FLORIDA (Venice, FL)
Stop playing the false equivalence card, Ross Douthat. Trump is a vile racist and showing him eating a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo is mild by comparison to his caging families, calling people from Central America “murderers and rapists”, and likening a desire to come to the U.S. by would-be immigrants to a plague. While Elizabeth Warren’s use of the term Latinx, is a matter of nuance, Trump is using his vicious racism to endear himself to a significant plurality of mostly white people who share some of his ugly views. Warren could be making a mistake with no harmful offense intended and she certainly capable of learning. Trump uses racism as a bludgeon and has no remorse or capacity to change as it is rooted in his character.
PJABC (New Jersey)
Maybe those "cultural influencers" should stop thinking of themselves as influencers if they are trying to rewrite the romance languages for idiological purposes. No sane person thinks that's a good idea. Languages don't change that way. They don't change from top down, but from bottom up, what people naturally choose to use. THere is nothing natural about that term.
DavidDC (Washington DC)
There are plenty of commenters who appear to be completely offended by the term cisgender or even the intention to show any concern for those who identify as non-binary, or non-cisgender. These are merely descriptions, so please reflect about why you may feel so offended when no offense, no ill-will, is intended. Why trying to be inclusive gets such an intensely negative response Is itself a thing to examine.
Chris Harwood (New York, NY)
I am pretty sensitive to a lot of anti-PC rhetoric, which I think often really is about protecting traditional privilege and denying full personhood to women or ethnic or sexual minorities, but I think Ross is right here. The key factor, as he points out, is in whether we use the terms that members of a group use when talking about themselves and would prefer to have others use to denote them. And it does seem to me that in the Latinx case the academic-PC avant-garde has gotten the cart ahead of the horse.
oz. (New York City)
On the issue of "Latinx" I say to Elizabeth Warren, Good luck running with that. You will need it. The Spanish language is gendered, while English is not. A small minority in the United States who call themselves the woke community is commandeering a linguistic demolition just so they can impose their views on everyone. Male and female, Latino and Latina live together and coexist. Destruction of the language by the very few is a poor first step to call attention to their grief. If some individuals are unhappy about Nature's male-female dichotomy, they should not demand the adoption of triangular wheels on everyone else's cars. That is impractical and a bit too precious. Start politicizing urgent things that really matter: non-living minimum wage; unaffordable housing, education, medications, insurance premiums, and health care costs. Politicize the anti-democratic lawlessness of big banks and corporations not paying their fair share of taxes. Politicize the exorbitant profiteering from the business of war and weapons; irresponsible extraction of natural resources; legislators bought and paid for by the rich. These are immense issues of far more import for everybody than the pursuit of amorphous linguistic fabrications that suggest extensions of intolerance passing for inclusion. We're letting the oligarchs off the hook every time we divide ourselves over issues of identity politics. For the ultra-rich, we're the gift that keeps on giving. oz.
Mike Edwards (Frazier Park, CA)
I understand the desire to remove gender markers from language, but I also understand that in Spanish, all nouns, pronouns and adjectives are gendered. When I first started seeing the word "Latinx" used, I had to wonder whether all of the nouns, pronouns and adjectives would be given the "X" treatment. So far, the answer seems to be "no", which makes me think the "Latinx" trend is a little more than cosmetic gesture and thus will be short-lived.
James Swords (Auburn Hills, MI)
Admittedly I am not in the ethnic group in question. I was on the "just deal with Latinos" bandwagon until I saw the Netflix series staring Gabriel Iglesias. An episode there spoke to the distinction between Latinos, Latinas, and Latinx. Thereafter I have made an effort to adopt the x, not 100% successful yet but inroads. I wouldn't fault someone to using Latinos but I also wouldn't fault someone for using Latinx either. It's the equivalent of an English shift from he/she to they. The term is just more encompassing that's all. To those of us who want to be more encompassing it's what we'll go with. Elizabeth is just aspiring to see a better world. Aside, it's not like English is perfect. We still have gender language to work on like policemen and workmen when clearly women are just as capable of earning those titles.
Wine Country Dude (Napa Valley)
I was mystified by the term, gathered it had something to do with gender, and thought it rhymed with the word lynx. Is this all for real?
Mala (Massachusetts)
@Wine Country Dude Probably not for much longer.
Jorge Rodriguez (New York)
As a Puerto Rican myself, I can safely assure you that literally not a single Latino/Latina (PR or otherwise) I know uses the term LatinX. This reaks to me of white "woke" academia or media people trying overly hard to correct something that was a complete non-controversy.
ARL (Texas)
@Jorge Rodriguez We are being served a bowl of trivia, nobody cares. Trump has and had real issues Mr. Douthat would never touch on.
Kal Al (United States)
@Jorge Rodriguez Perhaps that's because not a single Latinx you know is progressive enough to accept that upholding arbitrary gender distinctions is a thing of the past. Latinx as a term is about gender, not about ethnicity. I'm sure all the transgender/nonbinary Latinx people are happy that the term is seeing more widespread use. You just don't know any of them.
Cynthia (New York)
@Jorge Rodriguez - Exacto! I've only ever heard three people use that word in real-life conversation. All three were white women. I'm sure they meant well and they wanted to show me how "woke" they were, but all they did was demonstrate how little they actually understand.
Vin (Nyc)
Let's take this to its natural conclusion: Pretty much every sentence in Spanish contains gendered words - whether it's nouns or pronouns it's literally almost impossible to utter a phrase that doesn't contain at least a couple of gendered words. The same applies to Italian, French and Portuguese, btw. So is the idea to change these languages so much as to render them unrecognizable? To radically change the grammatical structure of the language? To what end? So that a group that comprises less than half of one percent of the population doesn't feel excluded? Does anyone get just how infantilizing this is? As a Latino that's one of my main problems with the term Latinx. The main problem, which Ross nails, is that users of the term feel "like they’re talking to an audience that doesn’t really include you." It's a word created by the white woke police - ironically, it's the crowd that likes to go on and on about the evils of 'cultural appropriation' that is now appropriating another language to serve their own aims. Obviously my experience is anecdotal, but no one in my family or among Latino acquaintances uses the term, and indeed they tend to side-eye folks who use it. It's a word for woke white people to use to feel good about themselves.
Kirby (Houston)
Why not just "Latin" if someone wants to de-gender the term? I agree with those who write in that the X magnifies the gender issue, whereas isn't the idea ...to get it to go away?
Josh Hill (New London)
Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I'd really rather be referred to as "Hispanic" or "Latin American" than "Latinx" (is that a Latvian feline?) or even the patronizing "Latino" (I'm a native English speaker, thank you very much). I'm a Sanders voter who agrees with much of Warren's program. But I fear that if she's nominated, she's going to do the unthinkable and lose to Donald Trump. She's just too far left -- and, it seems, too PC -- for the American public. We have to be realistic here -- the important thing is to beat Donald Trump. What good are any of these proposals if we lose our democracy?
stewart bolinger (westport, ct)
Liberalism's does not equate to Elizabeth Warren. The opinion is all about Elizabeth Warren. 'Warren's' not 'Liberalism's' Ross. We all look forward to your followup piece on the Trump's and conservatism's messaging and terminology regarding the same.
Sarah (Chicago)
It seems some of us have forgotten Getting Along 101. Approach people with goodwill and respect unless they as an individual have given you a reason to do otherwise. Call them what they want to be called. Don’t ostracize people trying to do the right thing. Accept an encounter may occasionally feel awkward - and that you can recover from that awkwardness. It feels our political discourse is getting hijacked by a few people on the left and right who don’t agree with those basic principles. I think we’d all be better served by paying them all a good deal less attention.
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