By Dara Sharif
A conservative-think-tank associate's assertions that immigration reform should take into account "the low average IQ of Hispanics" led to his abrupt departure.
But the damage to the Heritage Foundation's reputation as well as to the conservative political brand may have far greater implications, and provide a lesson in effective diversity management.
After the Heritage Foundation released a study critical of the Senate's bipartisan immigration proposals, an earlier dissertation written by one of the study's authors came to light.
In "IQ and Immigration Policy," Jason Richwine wrote: "The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population."
He went on to argue that IQ should be used as a "selection factor" in admitting immigrants, writing, "From the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent."
The outcry resulting from such discriminatory assertions was immediate, and within a day or so, the Heritage Foundation announced that Richwine had "decided to resign."
But for a conservative political movement struggling to increase its appeal to more segments of the American population than older, white, heterosexual males, this latest dustup doesn't help.
Diversity and cultural competence have become key differentiators in political success. During the 2012 presidential race, 71 percent of Latinos voted for President Obama, and Latinos comprised 10 percent of the total electorate for the first time.
According to The Atlantic, Obama's voters were 56 percent white, 24 percent Black, 14 percent Latino and 4 percent Asian, while Romney's were 88 percent white, 6 percent Latino, 2 percent Black and 2 percent Asian.