Meet Lieutenant Vargas

Hats off to the New York Times for an inspiring profile of Lt. Ben Vargas, a New Haven firefighter who was one of the plaintiffs–the only Hispanic plaintiff–in the Ricci case. The Hispanic Firefighters’ Association sided against him and he was hospitalized after being beaten up in the men’s room of a bar in an attack that he believes was orchestrated by pro-race discrimination forces. But the Hispanic firefighters’ group eventually came around, and Vargas and his co-plaintiffs were finally vindicated by the Supreme Court.

Vargas, who posted the sixth-highest score on the New Haven exam but joined the lawsuit before he knew for sure that score was his, says:

I consider myself an American — I was born and raised here. I love my people. I love my culture. I love our rice and beans, our salsa music, our language — everything my parents raised us with. But I am so grateful for the opportunity only the United States can give.

The article, by A.G. Sulzburger, who I take it is of the dynasty’s younger generation and possibly not a chip off the old block, concludes with this:

Gesturing toward his three young sons, Lieutenant Vargas explained why he had no regrets. “I want them to have a fair shake, to get a job on their merits and not because they’re Hispanic or they fill a quota,” he said. “What a lousy way to live.”

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