The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down

A sports broadcaster for ESPN was scheduled to call a game played by the University of Virginia’s football team, but he was pulled from the gig because his name is Robert Lee. It was determined by all concerned that in the interests of racial sensitivity, it would be better if Mr. Lee were replaced by someone with a less unfortunate name.

The thing is, this particular Robert Lee is not the scion of a benighted Southern family. He is not even white. He is an Asian — not a British-type “Asian” from Pakistan, but a man of Chinese descent who speaks both Mandarin and English. His surname is sometimes spelled “Li”. It’s very common in China.

Well, I guess you just can’t make this [noxious substance] up.

For more information, see The Washington Post or ESPN. Also, see this photograph.

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Nash Montana drew my attention to this story, and also made the meme pic at the top of this post. It reminded me of a much earlier controversy over the name Robert E. Lee. I related the story to her, and she urged me to make it into a post.

I don’t have any sources for this anecdote. I remember it from long, long ago — probably from sometime in the mid-1980s. It was in the Washington papers at the time (most likely both the Post and the Times), and I followed it avidly as it unfolded.

Here’s what happened, as well as I can recall it:

There was a young man named Robert E. Lee who lived in Montgomery County, Maryland. That’s one of the most affluent counties in the country — a whitebread, liberal, thoroughly honky D.C. suburban county, where many of the most well-paid employees of the federal government live.

Mr. Lee had a bright idea. He went to court and legally changed his name to Roberto Eduardo Leon — that is, the Spanish version of his real name. He then filed paperwork to claim benefits under one of the minority set-aside programs of the day. His request was denied, of course — he was an obvious honky; how could he possibly claim benefits reserved for minorities?

His lawyer took the case to court. You see, the wording of the relevant federal law set aside benefits for persons “with Spanish surnames”. Which Mr. Leon most definitely possessed. Legally speaking, he had them over a barrel. He had a right to that federal moolah.

The thing is, I can’t remember how it all turned out. I don’t know if he got the money, or if the feds found some loophole in the law that would allow them to deny him his set-aside.

In any case, I admired the fellow greatly. He had cojones and gumption, and managed to put a finger in the eye of the Great Federal Diversity Behemoth.

If anyone from the D.C. area remembers the final disposition of the Roberto E. Leon case — or can correct any errors of recollection in my story — please leave your information in the comments.

9 thoughts on “The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down

  1. I was in the army with a guy from Texas who was born in Mexico. His surname was Baron, with an accent on the last syllable. He had a dark complexion, American Indian features, and Spanish was his native language. He was obviously ethnic Mexican, and he told me that his wife was also ethnic Mexican. He also said that his family was not eligible for Texas state programs to aid Hispanics, because they said that “Baron” is not a Spanish name.

    • Too bad he didn’t find a way to fight it. Texas is overrun with
      “aid” for Hispanics, to the detriment of other people who live there. So is California.

      After what the Mexicans did to the formerly black town of Compton CA, I have little respect for them. Not to mention California’s YUGE Mexican drug cartel population. Eventually the Mexican-level shooting will start in Southern California. Meanwhile, Hollywood Inc has to have its drugs.

  2. What? The comments?
    Or the story?
    Or the man who decided to openly game the system to bring it down?

    You’ll have to up your own game to comment here, Mr. Huggins.

  3. I once worked with a Spanish naval officer. Very much descended from Spanish aristocracy, blonde hair & blue eyes. If you wanted to really wind his clock just mention that someone of Mexican heritage was/had/or could speak Spanish. He would instantly be white-hot and demand an apology in that Mexican (the language) is not and could not possibly be mistaken for Spanish. He utterly detested any inference that Mexicans were “Hispanic.” An interesting reaction to say the least. It put me in mind of being in japan a couple of decades previously and having various Japanese acquaintances pointing out to me the Koreans on what ever train we happened to be riding. Now the “Koreans” they were pointing out were born second or third generation from slave labor brought over during the first half of the 20th century, and if you asked them they would acknowledge that they were Korean without batting an eye. They couldn’t speak Korean, had never been to Korea and if they had been able to obtain a passport it would have been Japanese and they were locked into a social/economic place that no American black of the 1950’s would have traded into. They were virtually non-persons in Japan, but didn’t exist at all to the rest of the world, which was clamoring for ‘civil rights’ (circa 1970’s) for American blacks. at the behest of the ComIntern, the Black man’s friend.
    The point is that Socialism cannot rise above the level of a carney shell game, continually shuffling identity groups around the board; and shell games are about the pea, never about the shells. For those that stand back and watch the hustle becomes apparent. Those that get sucked into the play are too close and have money on the board, which invariably leads to foolish/desperate self-delusion-as-cunning bets.
    Asians make a poor shell because culturally they more inclined to believe that hard work trumps grievance as a means to get ahead. In Asia grievances are a dime a dozen and doesn’t put rice in the bowl.
    Sorry Mr. Lee, at this juncture the shell “Asian” is simply not of as much utility to the ComIntern as the shell of the name “Lee”. Maybe next bet they will make it look like they trust you with the pea (not as a person but as a useful tool), Not that they will actually give you the pea, after all it’s all just sleight hand in pursuit a larger prize.

  4. Heck, if you are from the US, you travel to Spain and speak bad Spanish, they will tell you to, “stop speaking Mexican!”

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