January 5, 2010

The President of Guatemala

One issue for the Los Angeles Police Department is getting accurate racial identifications from witnesses. It's particularly hard for distant bystanders to distinguish some Latin Americans from Middle Easterners and West Asians. For example, here's a picture of the president of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom Caballeros.

Joseph Wambaugh's LAPD novels going all the way back to The New Centurions 40 years ago, always have an Ambiguously Latino character. In the latest one, Hollywood Moon, the witness reports on the half-Honduran / half-blonde young man list him as Mideastern, which slows down the investigation.

Actually, I'm lying to you. The picture you see is really the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh. I think it's the mustache that throws you. (Instead, here are pictures of the president of Guatemala, who looks more like I'd expect the mayor of Budapest to look.)

In other pictures, the President of Yemen looks a little more Horn of African, like a somewhat more Caucasian version of the late emperor of Ethiopia. (Here's one with GW Bush for comparison.) Once you know he's from Yemen, the gestalt kicks in and you notice the more Arab aspects in a bunch of his photos.

Similarly, few people say, "Funny, you don't look Mexican" to Carlos Slim [Salim], the richest man in Mexico, even though he's Lebanese by descent. Slim looks more or less like rich Mexicans look.

The part-Maori character actor Cliff Curtis has made a nice living playing Latin American and Arab characters. In the movie within a movie of the 1940s period piece, The Majestic, Curtis plays ham actor Ramon Jamon playing "The Evil But Handsome Prince Khalid." Once you know he's a New Zealand Polynesian, it's obvious that's what he is, but until you know that, he can play either Latin American or Middle Eastern.

Now, you may say, "But doesn't that just prove that profiling can't possibly work? All Al-Qaeda has to do is recruit a Maori suicide bomber and get him elected president of Guatemala!"

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

41 comments:

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Another half-Maori/half-European, Keisha Castle-Hughes, managed to pull off the character of the Virgin Mary in the 2006 movie The Nativity Story. Appropriately enough, Castle-Hughes managed to get pregnant on her own at the age of 16. Not sure if it was an immaculate conception or not.

Simon said...

Maoris seem to be the most consistently villainous looking of all races - they really added a lot to Xena: Warrior Princess!

Anonymous said...

I guess you have a point. At first glance, I thought that was a picture of Thomas Friedman.

Anonymous said...

Hispanic, Arab, and Jewish people all share at least partial roots in the Mediterranean.

Anonymous said...

Guatemala is probably the most heavily indigenous of all of the Latin American countries, with full-blooded Amerindians outnumbering Mestizos. How do they end up with a president that looks like the one in the link that Steve posted?

Anonymous said...

In a word -

M-E-S-T-I-Z-O.

No matter how much they may deny the obvious.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's because I have a lot of Polynesian friends or maybe it's because I saw him in Once Were Warriors first but I have never mistaken him for anything else.

On another note, people's typical expressions change their face. Even though the average Scandahoovian from Fargo has the same genetics as the average Scandahoovian from Ballard they have different 'looks'.

That is not due just to environment (people from Fargo get more 'weathering'), it is also due to the expressions they grow up seeing and using.

So with the Maori it might be that they all look like they were raised in the projects and had gladiator training is because they have. Maori life is typical of Aboriginals everywhere. My Samoan friends look very friendly when they are friendly and down right scary when they are angry but their family from Samoa always makes me wonder if they're not just reusing their old long pig recipes when they're cooking Spam.

Lost Pilgrim

Dutch Boy said...

Take a look at some mitochondrial DNA or Y DNA haplogroup maps and you will see why southern Europeans often have a Middle Eastern look to them. There is actually a mtDNA haplogroup of Middle Eastern origin (J) that is common all the way up to the British Isles.

Anonymous said...

Another famous Lebanese-Mexican: Salma Hayek.

Also note television sensation Don Francisco, originally Senor Kreutzberger Blumenfeld.

Cordelia said...

OT: Chicago police may scrap entrance exam %-/

Anonymous said...

Most people are pretty poor at guessing based on looks alone unless there's some obvious trait, such as red hair = Celtic/Irish. As a white male I've been told over the years I looked very Italian, Polish, German, Greek, Irish. Since I'm none of the above I've always found it hilarious how people's perceptions can vary so much, especially since those groups aren't even considered to look similar. I've noted lots of Gypsy families living in Hispanic neighborhoods masquerading as such by wearing Mexican style clothing and blending in, speaking Spanish in some fashion. The better to disguise themselves, I suppose. Outside of the most familiar groups it all becomes a blur, the not quite white, brunette, swarthy looking groups out there. Friend or foe? Who can tell?

Salim Mallik said...

That is so true, most brown skinned people except South East Asians and pure native Americans tend to show a lot of overlap in their looks. I have mistaken a Native American looking Bolivian as a North African and a Libyan as Brazilian.
As far as that Ali Abdullah Saleh is concerned, has anyone realised how fair he is compared to the average Yemeni. This is something which is common throughout the brown belt from North Africa including the horn of Africa all the way to South East Asia via Middle East and South Asia and the brown belt in Central America. The elites and celebs (E & Cs) tend to be much much lighter skinned compared to the common people in the streets. In the middle East and South Asia, they (E & Cs) are much more Caucasian even European looking compared to the average person on the street in those places. Just take a look at Arab pop stars and Bollywood stars. Besides to the dismay of African Americans people of the lower end in society tend to be darker than average.
In South East Asia the (E & Cs) tend to look either more like Eurasians or North East Asians compared to the average person on the street. Of course there are exceptions but the lighter skinned ruling over the darker skinned seems something natural and normal in a large chunk of the world (again to the dismay of African Americans).

Glossy said...

I sometimes visually confuse the two kinds of Indians, or at least Mexican Mestizos with East Indians.

In the picture of Slim that Steve linked to Diane Sawyer looks guardedly hopeful of one day turning him into her own Aristotle Onassis. I don't think she's famous enough for that though.

Dutch Boy said...

Speaking of Maoris, I read recently that 25% of them have Y DNA haplotypes consistent with a European male ancestor.

Truth said...

What was the point of this post?

Is Steve making the argument that profiling won't work because you can't tell the difference between Hispanics, Arabs, Jews, etc.?

I thought the profiling was by country of origin.

David said...

Don't forget the quintessential Mexican-Italian, Eli Wallach (recently a venerable voice-over on Ken Burns's National Parks series).

David said...

> What was the point of this post? <

I think this is a Human Biodiversity blog. The Sailor fellow who runs it finds race / ethnicity topics interesting in their own right, apparently.

I'm going to do some research on this interpretation of this blog by reading some of his other articles and posts spanning the years 1991-2009.

Mark said...

"The elites and celebs (E & Cs) tend to be much much lighter skinned compared to the common people in the streets. In the middle East and South Asia, they (E & Cs) are much more Caucasian even European looking compared to the average person on the street in those places. Just take a look at Arab pop stars and Bollywood stars."

I can believe that celebrities in the Middle East and South Asia would tend to be much lighter than average based on societal preferences for light skin and fine features, which, as I understand it, predate contact with the Europeans. But why would the elites be lighter? They weren't colonized in recent memory by light skinned peoples, and it's difficult for me to believe that a trait like IQ would correlate strongly with skin tone within a population...

Anyway, here's are some pics of soccer (God, I almost typed football, how pretentious!) teams from selected countries. Yemen isn't included, unfortunately, but Saudi Arabia is, and they're very dark. Incidentally, the Swedes and Italians are by far the most consistently good-looking. Tunisians are darker than I expected, Mexicans are much whiter than I expected (is soccer an upper class sport in Mexico?) and Costa Ricans are more American Indian looking than I had expected. Argentines are pretty fugly looking, considering that they're descended primarily from Italian and Spanish immigrants (yes, I know they are part American Indian but it doesn't really show in their phenotype). Maybe the villagers in Italy/Spain kicked all the ugly ones out? :)

Also, no one on the Brazilian team except for the nice-looking black guy in the bottom right hand corner knows how to smile properly; all the rest look like they just got hit between the eyes with a rock.

http://racialreality.110mb.com/footballers.html

sj071 said...

'Another famous Lebanese-Mexican: Salma Hayek.'
Salma Hayek is cordially invited to invade and corrupt my personal gene pool whenever possible.

albertosaurus said...

The most famous part Maori has to have been Kiri Te Kanawa who was also arguably the best soprano in the world for a couple decades. She was always a looker too.

Here she is as a blond.

Anonymous said...

Guatemala is probably the most heavily indigenous of all of the Latin American countries, with full-blooded Amerindians outnumbering Mestizos.

Lynn and Vanhanen [2002, 2006] guesstimate the mean IQ of Guatemala to be 79.

Let me just leave it at that [for fear of invoking the wrath of Komment Kontrol].

Anonymous said...

'Speaking of Maoris, I read recently that 25% of them have Y DNA haplotypes consistent with a European male ancestor'.

This sounds conservative, more like 25% do not have a European ancestor.
Most early Euro traders, and explorers married Maori women.
The european ancestry is rarely acknowledged unless it is expedient to do so.

In Curtis' case the only web hat tips to his ancestry are given to his Maori tribal afiiliations, in his case Te Arawa from Rotorua, the same as another Maori Hollywood actor Temuera Morrison.

Rarely is the obvious Euro ancestry mentioned unless in jest, or if it connotes hipster rebeltude as in a Celtic fusion, like popular current themes in tattoo styles.

Haka meets rebel yell.

Billy T James the comedian, used to say that the Maori in him wanted to get drunk, but the Scotsman in him did not want to pay for it.

Farmer F

Anonymous said...

A little off-topic, but there is a half-Lebanese Christian / half Scots-Irish chick, a few houses down from here, who is so beautiful that she will absolutely take your breath away.

If she weren't an Evangelical, then she could be a supermodel [she looks kinda like a cross between Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and Rachel Weisz in The Mummy].

PS: Michael Atiyah's father was Lebanese [his mother was Scottish].

PPS: Michael DeBakey was also part of the Lebanese Diaspora.

patrick said...

My father has been mistaken for both Middle Eastern and Hispanic (by both Anglos and Mexican-Americans). He is neither- he is of Sicilian descent.

Steve Sailer said...

"But why would the elites be lighter?"

Rushton's theory for this fits into Frost's "fair sex" theory: powerful men prefer fairer wives, so the upper classes get fairer over time, or stay fairly fair, as in Latin America over the last 500 years. Dynamic darker men get recruited on an individual basis into the elites through marriage, so they don't pose much of a threat to the overall elite. I'd bet that Hugo Chavez's greatgrandchildren will be considerably fairer in color than he is.

Also, in the history of conquest, there's a general tendency for conquerors to be from north of the conquerees. Lots of exceptions to this tendency, but I think it holds up at least at the 60-40 level.

Anonymous said...

Maybe white people are just bad at recognizing minorities? The infamous "all look the same to us" phenomenon.

I'm Indian, and most Indians look distinctly different from Arabs, except perhaps Punjabis who border the near East region and who have always had considerable mixing with them.

"I sometimes visually confuse the two kinds of Indians, or at least Mexican Mestizos with East Indians."

That's just downright bad. The facial features and build of East Indians is totally different from Mexicans. Every once in a while you might get one that can pass for the other, but generally speaking it's rare.

AmericanGoy said...

My one mistake in life is letting a stunning Lebanese (christian) lady away from my life.

What an idiot I am.

Sideways said...

What was the point of this post?

Is Steve making the argument that profiling won't work because you can't tell the difference between Hispanics, Arabs, Jews, etc.?


Probably one of Steve's "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" posts. Today it's "that Mexican jumping the border is actually an Arab terrorist. Seal the border!"

Reg Cæsar said...

Check out Abdalá Bucaram, former President of Ecuador, from a prominent Lebanese-Ecuadorian family. (Actually, he's half-and-half, so maybe he's not the best example for this discussion. And don't ask about the Ron Mael mustache.)

Carlos Menem is another Arab-Hispanic politician. This may not be due to any particular political skill on the part of Arabs, but a reflection of the lack of such skill in Latins. "Anyone but an Iberian..."

(Incidentally, Menem is a convert, i.e., apostate from Islam. Which means he's subject to the death penalty under shari'a. Read the scary note at Wikipedia. Gee, you wouldn't know any other cases of a president "merely growing up in a Muslim family", would you? Oddly, Menem was nearly deposed by another Arab-Argentine Islamic apostate, Mohamed Alí Seineldín.)

CJ said...

All right experts of the Steveopshere, let's see how good you really are.

Police Release Photos of New Year's Sex Assault Suspects

Let's see if you can identify their origin(s) before the police pick them up.

Largest photo versions - PDF directly from police website

Ripped from the headlines!

David said...

Is the average white guy's attitude "I can't tell 'em apart" and "The women sure are SMOKIN HOT"? Or are we being led to think so?

Dutch Boy said...

CJ: I'll venture a guess: Turks (both from their appearance and the nature of the crime).

Anonymous said...

That photo is not of Álvaro Colom Caballeros, the President of Guatemala.

Try these Google images.

This may not invalidate the general point you want to make, but...

Mark said...

Regarding the five alleged assailants, I'll say somewhere between Syria and Eastern Europe.

Templar said...

Maybe white people are just bad at recognizing minorities? The infamous "all look the same to us" phenomenon

Amusingly, a Philippino acquaintance once confessed to me that to him, all whites were more or less indistinguishable.

Mark said...

Based on their last names, it looks Like at least two of the five were punjabis. Hunh.

CJ said...

Yes, now we've got the names.

Five suspects in TO New Year's sex assaults surrender

Charged with two counts of gang sexual assault are Rozbah Bahri, 27, of Toronto; Parvez Bahri, 25, of Toronto; Said Serwary, 23, of Toronto; Omed Sarwary, 23, of Toronto; and Ahmad Ghafari, 23, of Hamilton.

The suspects were released on $5,000 bail Thursday afternoon, on an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and under the additional conditions that they not drink alcohol and have no contact with the complainants.

The name Omed Sarwary shows up on Facebook in connection with a web site named Afghan Youth Success, but it was not immediately clear whether the two Omed Sarwarys are one and the same.

Yes, looks like they're much further east than I thought myself; I figured Turks was a good guess, maybe Albanians, conceivably Lebanese. By the names, looks like they're from somewhere between Kabul and Punjab.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I was guessing that they were from somewhere in the generic "Southeastern" region of the old Soviet Union [maybe even ex-KGB types, if they had been a little older].

For the Iran/Afghanistan/Pakistan corridor though, they seem to have very light skin tones - do you suppose that the skin tones might have been intentionally lightened in Photoshop [by the powers that be, so as to avoid emphasizing the politically-incorrect aspects of the crime]?

Mark said...

Anonymous: You're being paranoid.

Anonymous said...

"Anyway, here's are some pics of soccer (God, I almost typed football, how pretentious!) teams from selected countries."

That's not 'pretentious'; that's accurate use of the language.

Looking at pics of national football teams is going to give you a very unrepresentative selection of the country in question.

Philip said...

You are aware that vast numbers of Latin Americans are white are you not? I wouldn't expect the average American to realise this, but I would expect you to do so.