Who died and made Bill Richardson the judge of all things Hispanic?

Last week, Richardson, the former Democratic governor of New Mexico, had the audacity to say that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) should not be “defined” as Hispanic because of his views on immigration. (Cruz does not support a path to citizenship for illegals).

Cruz is half Cuban (on his paternal side). Richardson is half Mexican (on his maternal side). Both speak Spanish.

So what gives Richardson his ethnic superiority? His membership in the Democratic Party, of course!

Richardson’s comments are deeply offensive. Yet, when asked about them, Cruz took the high road.

“In my view,” Cruz told Neil Cavuto on Fox News Channel, “if people … are attacking your ethnicity, that tends to indicate they don’t want to engage in the substantive merits of the argument, and I certainly have no interest in getting into any sort of mudslinging.”

Cruz may not wish to engage on the ethnicity question, but there are plenty of other Hispanics (myself included) who will gladly answer the charge.

And to Richardson we say: “How dare you!”

How dare you question someone’s Hispanic authenticity because he doesn’t share your views on immigration. (Note to Richardson: according to a 2009 poll by Zogby International, a slight majority of Latinos actually favor enforcement, rather than a pathway to citizenship, for illegals. Does that mean we should revise our census data and cut the Hispanic population in half?)

Unfortunately, Richardson’s comments are not just the ramblings of a former politician trying to stay relevant. They are emblematic of a certain world-view.

For decades, identity politics has been the primary currency of the left. They have doled out jobs, government contracts, and spots at highly selective colleges on the basis of race and ethnicity. And they have built electoral coalitions with identity politics, accusing Republicans of being anti-whatever group they need to win at the polls.

So, when a minority comes along whom they cannot control — someone who questions the liberal orthodoxy or challenges the Democrats’ methods — the left seeks to neutralize that person’s influence by calling him an “Uncle Tom.”

Don’t believe me? Just ask Clarence Thomas, Robert “RG-3” Griffin III, Juan Williams, Miguel Estrada, or Marco Rubio — all of whom the left has attempted to marginalize as insufficiently “down with their people.”

And yet, ironically, liberals willingly accept Liz Warren’s claim to Native American heritage (even though she is, at best, 1/32 Cherokee – and perhaps not even that). Why the free pass for Liz? Because she’s a liberal.

Are we sensing a double standard yet?

Now, to be fair, the attack on Cruz is about more than just his politics and his heritage. It’s also about the freshman senator’s personal style.

You see, Ted Cruz doesn’t suffer fools. Never has. Cruz was a year behind me in law school. We served on the Harvard Law Review together. Even at the Review (an institution populated with the law geeks) Cruz was usually the smartest guy in the room — and he had no trouble letting everyone know it.

His intelligence, confidence (some say, arrogance), and aloof demeanor are off-putting to some.

And since coming to Washington, D.C., Cruz has ruffled the feathers of many — even within his own party — for his unwillingness to defer to seniority.

Yes, Cruz has become a lightning rod. But Richardson’s attack on him went too far.

And it revealed the truth about what many on the left think of minorities: The only ones who “count” are the ones they can control.

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