Tag: abortion

Who’s Next?

As I’ve mentioned before, my family is from El Salvador. I’ve never been there, but I hear that it’s nice.

Actually, I don’t hear that at all. In fact, I hear the direct opposite.

My mom and aunt came to America decades ago, and they have surprisingly little positive to say about their childhoods in El Salvador. One of my cousins came to the United States when he was a kid. He has vowed never to set foot in El Salvador the rest of his life, because the place holds such dark memories for him. And my brother has lived in that country for years now, and he has told me about the struggles of raising a family there.

So no, this isn’t going to be an up-with-the-motherland kind of article.

Because in addition to my family’s subjective experiences, there is also the fact that El Salvador is arguably “the murder capital of world.”

And that is definitely not a phrase to put on the travel brochure.

You see, the legacy of U.S. intervention, a horrific civil war, and a stagnant economy are all major reasons for the country’s problems. And of course, “violence by so-called maras – gangs that originated in the United States and spread to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – is thought to be the major push factor” in propelling the tiny nation into “a lethal cycle that the government’s current rhetoric and strategy will not be able to break.”

In short, it’s a messed-up place.

What’s interesting is that, as bad as El Salvador would be under most circumstances, a couple of stray variables have turned a horrific situation into a pure cataclysm.

Back in 1999, the government thought the best way to fight the skyrocketing crime rate was to arm its citizens. It was that whole fantastical scenario of a good guy with a gun coming in to save the day. Well, that didn’t exactly work out.

The laws “permitted the private possession of heavy weapons. Instead of reducing violence,” however, these laws “fuelled its escalation.”

Another factor in El Salvador’s demise is its hyper-religious culture. The Catholic Church has such sway over the inhabitants that abortion is “illegal in all circumstances, without exception, punishable by up to eight years in prison. Sentences of up to 30 years have been handed down when a judge determined that ‘homicide’ rather than abortion had occurred.”

When women are denied basic rights over their own bodies, the culture notices. And today, “El Salvador is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women,” with “the highest rate of femicide in the entire world.”

Now, you might say that this is all very depressing, but that’s life in the third world — right?

Well, look at some of those factors again: a country where citizens are heavily armed, religion is all-powerful, abortion is illegal, and strongmen run the place.

This is the dream of everyone who voted for Roy Moore yesterday. Fortunately for America, they were outnumbered… this time.

For all the fear and paranoia that white right-wingers have about Latinos, they seem absolutely hell-bent to adopt the very worst ideas of Hispanic culture.

Perhaps El Salvador has bottomed out, and can only improve.

But the United States, if handed over to zealots, can get a lot, lot worse.


No, We Don’t All Need to Get Along

Good intentions abound. That’s the only reason people still embrace misguided ideas like “colorblind society,” despite the powerfully negative connotations that such phrases conjure up.

The latest nicey-nicey concept I’ve encountered (and no doubt you have as well) is the absurd notion that, for America to succeed, we need to put aside our differences. In essence, we all need to get along.

Where in the hell did this strange idea come from?

For the overwhelming majority of American history, we have not all gotten along.

For example, Hamilton and Jefferson didn’t say, “let’s be pals” when they were hashing out what kind of government we should have. They had more important things to do.

Even during the so-called Era of Good Feelings, America’s many slaves weren’t feeling the love and joining in group hugs.

Speaking of slavery, America didn’t even reach its centennial before we started shooting at each other over that touchy topic. And it was another century of violence and antagonism before the government said, “Maybe we should be nicer to ethnic minorities.” At no point in that process did we all get along.

Yes, one could argue that the country was united during World War II, but even in that case, all it took to bind us together was a global conflagration where millions of people died and the very survival of democracy was in question. In other words… good times.

More recently, we’ve come to blows over Vietnam and Iraq, over abortion and affirmative action, over gay rights and healthcare.

So when was this mythical time when Americans were of one mind? And why does anyone think this is a necessary condition in order for the country to thrive? Obviously, we’ve found a way to work around our internecine loathing.

The truth is that a nation as vast as ours — with its myriad subcultures, each enjoying a large degree of freedom — is never going to be truly united. To believe otherwise is to embrace the thinking of a child.

However, this Kumbaya concept is more than a pathetic pipe dream. It features an insidious aspect snaking below the surface.

We see this in the earnest pleas, even demands, for liberals to shut up and support Trump. Of course, conservatives would like nothing better than for progressives to give Trump a chance (which many liberals, inexplicably, are quite willing to do).

But why would leftists agree to a right-wing agenda that goes against every principle we have, and that could lead America into chaos? Apparently, we should do so out of blind patriotism and for the sake of the vague, abstract concept of “unity.”

According to this idea, striving to be friends supersedes the threat of decimating the country.

“Yes, thousands of people are dead now because Obamacare was repealed, but at least we’re all getting along, and that’s the most important thing. Yup.”

This is clearly insane.

And aside from the specifics of the current era — where a wannabe fascist seeks to make the nation great again for white supremacists — the fact remains that striving for unity at all costs is spectacularly naïve, even destructive.

The US Constitution is the result of Founding Fathers threatening to duel each other to the death. Slavery was abolished through warfare. Civil rights came only after decades of people refusing to back down, and not settling for getting along.

One of the virtues/flaws of American culture is our hyper-competitiveness. As such, one idea or principle usually emerges triumphant. Sometimes it’s a good idea… and sometimes it’s not. Still, as we know, the moral arc is long but bends toward justice (at least we hope it does).

However, progress is delayed even more when we smile and act polite in the face of idiocy or fanaticism or demagoguery. And there is no need to do so.

Because we have never all gotten along.

And we never will.

 

 


Another Round

So there I was, blasting away at the bull’s-eye with a .22 rifle. When I was done, I handed the gun back to its owner and wondered if I should feel exhilarated or manly or something. But I just felt indifferent.

I was fourteen, and that’s the only time I’ve ever fired a gun. In the decades since, I’ve had no desire to repeat the experience.

I don’t own a gun, a fact that aligns with a larger statistic. We Latinos are the ethnic group least likely to own a firearm. Just 18 percent of us are packing heat. In contrast, more than one-third of white people (and a sky-high 61 percent of Southern white men) are armed.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


The Difference

As we careen, cartwheel, and plummet into the finale of this interminable election season, one refrain we hear many times is that Republicans and Democrats are one and the same.

Indeed, there is ample evidence that both parties are indebted to big business and the status quo. And as Latinos know, Obama’s original immigration policies weren’t much of an improvement over Bush’s approach.

Still, there are differences between the two men running for president— besides the fact that one is a communist Kenyan and the other is a money-grubbing fascist (hey, that’s what the internet told me).

 

For those who have inexplicably not paid attention, Obama is pro-choice, while Romney is pro-life. Obama is against the death penalty, while Romney is fine with it. The president has come out in support of gay marriage, while Romney believes marriage is a straights-only deal. And Obama doesn’t share Romney’s opinion that the US government is inherently inept, corrupt, and/or evil.

I have to admit, those seem to be fairly large differences to me.

Even progressive icon Daniel Ellsberg, no fan of Obama, thinks the president is substantially different from Romney.

So who are the people yelling that Obama and Romney are clones? I mean, besides Lupe Fiasco?

Well, there are true believers who think a leftist or libertarian chief exec is a possibility (it’s not). Then there are self-proclaimed radicals who dismiss the entire American system as corrupt or bourgeois or just plain icky. And finally, there are voters who simply say, “It don’t matter none.” 

But of course it does matter. And for Latino voters, it’s crucial.

Hispanics are the least likely ethnic group to have health insurance, a situation that the infamous Obamacare may alleviate.

On immigration, Obama has endorsed the Dream Act (belatedly, of course), while Romney is still trying to explain how self-deportation would work.

And when it comes to economic policy, Romney’s tax cuts would benefit the upper classes, which are not exactly awash in Latinos. Keep in mind that according to some experts, Romney “cannot deliver all the tax cuts he promised to the wealthy without raising taxes on the middle class.” One can presume that Hispanics will not be among the direct beneficiaries of his tax plan.

However, perhaps some Latinos still believe that it doesn’t matter who wins. Well, think back to those distant days of 2000, when Bush was elected. At the time, many Americans voted for Nader because Gore and Bush were apparently too similar. Therefore, we have to assume that under President Gore, the September 11 attacks, the Great Recession, and FEMA’s horrific response to Hurricane Katrina would have all occurred. Those are rather huge assumptions, to say the least.

But the Iraq War, an obsession unique to neo-cons, certainly would not have happened. So for the families of 4,500 dead US soldiers, there was at least one fundamental, very real difference between the candidates.

By the way, approximately 500 of those soldiers were Latino.

 


The Sting of Rejection

OK, the Democratic president who insisted, “Si, Se Puede” hasn’t kept his promise to make immigration reform a top priority. Furthermore, he has deported more Latinos than anybody in history, despite the fact that there are fewer undocumented people to arrest.

So getting the Hispanic vote should be easy for the GOP, which continues to insist that Latinos are Republican but don’t know it. In essence, conservatives say Latinos are voting against their own interests, which is ironic considering that Republicans depend on their rural white base to do exactly that.

There’s just one problem.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 

 


Fourth and Long

Two recent polls caught my attention.

The first was taken at the height of Tebow-mania, when many otherwise rational adults believed that a mediocre quarterback could actually win the Super Bowl.

To continue reading this post, please click here.


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