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October 30th, 2009
10:28 AM ET

Take talk of food racism with grain of salt

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/30/bob.griese.jpg caption="ESPN broadcaster Bob Griese has been suspended for one week for a comment he made about NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya."]

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a member of the San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board, a nationally syndicated columnist and a regular contributor to CNN.com.

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

This week, I was on a talk radio show when the host - a white male conservative (what are the odds?) - asked me if Americans are so sensitive that we now have to worry about "food racism."

When I first heard the phrase, I thought he was talking about the time that Hillary Clinton, during the Democratic primary, went looking for Latino votes in a Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trying to explain to her mostly Mexican-American audience that Americans' concerns are intertwined, Clinton wound up showing everyone that her knowledge of Latino issues is a side order short of a combination plate when she said condescendingly:

"We treat these problems as if one is guacamole and one is chips, when ... they both go together."

Gulp! I remember thinking at the time: "Ay gracias, Señora Clinton. I have difficulty with challenging political issues, but now you're speaking my language. Come on, donkey!"

Instead, the radio host was talking about the latest tempest - a taco in a teapot. One of the most recent skirmishes in the culture wars is about a Latino race car driver and a TV broadcaster who spun out and hit the wall after telling a lame joke that some are calling racist.

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