Tag: California

So Emotional

Remember back when liberals were widely known as bleeding hearts and crybabies and hypersensitive wimps who would, if they could, create a Constitutional amendment that forbade anyone from getting their feelings hurt?

Yeah, those days are long gone. Because according to many conservatives, modern liberals are nothing but a bunch of heartless Antifa thugs who will crush your skull if you even mumble the words “free market.”

So liberals aren’t relying on emotions anymore, but you know who is? That’s right — Republicans. Much to our national shock, the GOP has become the party of feelings.

No, I don’t mean soft, useless feelings like empathy and compassion. I mean the manly, hardcore, non-cuck emotions like anger and contempt and hatred. They are very much in touch with those feelings.

This move to prioritizing emotions over thoughts has been prevalent in the Republican Party for at least a decade. Recall that George W. Bush, the loveable war criminal, famously led with his gut and eschewed scientific analysis or hard data in favor of whatever appealed to his intuition.

Yes, that’s how we got the Iraq War and truthiness and the idea that climate change was open to debate. Good times…

In any case, the current GOP has doubled down on the use of feelings over facts. During the presidential election, we heard that it didn’t matter if crime was down. All that mattered was that people felt crime was up. It didn’t matter that the economy had improved substantially under Obama. Conservatives felt that it hadn’t.

And now, during the reign of the most id-driven, unthinking rage-aholic in presidential history, we see the full effect of this approach.

We have an America that is not just illogical. It’s anti-logical.

I’m not just talking about conservative hostility toward higher education, scientific inquiry, and the very concept of facts. All that is proof enough of GOP’s preference for knee-jerk reaction over careful analysis.

No, I’m talking about our glorious leader himself. All rational Republicans should see that Trump has “every quality they described as a deal breaker under Obama” and withdraw their support immediately. But while there is “virtually no personality defect that conservatives accused Obama of possessing that Trump himself does not actually possess,” more than two-thirds of Republicans still back him.

And the reason is simple: the GOP, as a whole, feels like Trump is doing a great job, despite the fact that the man has startlingly few accomplishments. They feel it in their right-wing bones.

But of course, that leads us to the latest Republican triumph: the passage of massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

This panacea of conservative thought, this epitome of GOP dreams, is and has always been trickle-down economics writ large. There is no evidence, of course, that giving more money to rich people stimulates the economy. Republicans just feel like it should, and so now we’re going to do it, despite the fact that the vast majority of America thinks this is a terrible idea.

Of course, Republicans have a secondary objective (again, one based on pure emotion), which “is to screw over Democrats.” The GOP tax plan “will almost exclusively hurt residents of high-tax blue states like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California.”

This is the just the latest, most egregious example of what has become the bottom layer of the GOP’s pyramid of principles. It is clear that conservatism “as practiced by most Republicans is an ideology built on one single principle: pissing off the liberals.” And this motivation is based on the feeing, the gut-level revulsion that “liberals are subhuman scum, and that hating liberals… is far more important that minor concerns like preventing war or economic destruction.”

In such an environment, it doesn’t matter that most economists — including conservative ones — agree that the Republican tax plan will not have any beneficial effects on the economy.

It doesn’t matter that the CBO has calculated that the plan will add over a trillion dollars to the national debt, which was anathema to a political party (long gone) that billed itself as brimming over with “deficit hawks.” Instead, we have GOP leaders — not working-class Republican voters, but full-time leaders of the conservative movement — who look at these facts, glance at these numbers, and dismiss “the findings as an accounting gimmick.”

It is not possible to have a true debate with people who, when confronted with overwhelming statistics, verifiable facts, or irrefutable evidence about clear truths, will simply set their jaws and proclaim, “No, I don’t believe it,” just because that’s the way they feel.

The only proper response to such people is to say, “Well, fuck your feelings.”

 


Wait Until Next Year

As entertaining as it was to see Trump’s flunkies flail and/or plead guilty, there was another cultural asteroid hurtling across the American stratosphere this week.

I’m talking, of course, about the World Series.

Unfortunately, my hometown Milwaukee Brewers have yet to win the championship trophy. In fact, their sole appearance in the Fall Classic was over 30 years ago, and the wait is beyond frustrating.

So I understand how happy and relieved Houston Astros fans are now that their team has finally won the big game. I’m just bummed that it came at the expense of my adopted hometown Los Angeles Dodgers.

And although it was a wild series (what was with all those homeruns?), the incident I want to analyze took place not on the field but in the dugout.

If you recall, Yuli Gurriel, the Houston Astros first baseman, made a racist gesture and spat out a slur at Dodger pitcher Yu Darvish in Game 3. That ugliness is hard to hide, and Major League Baseball responded quickly by suspending Gurriel for five games… starting next year.

Gurriel, who fled Cuba last year, expressed remorse and apologized to Darvish. The pitcher graciously accepted this.

But before we move on from this tacky situation, it’s worth asking what we have learned from this incident.

Well, for starters, we’ve learned that Latinos can be just as bigoted and hate-filled as anybody else, which is not exactly a heartwarming insight.

We’ve also found out that some people still use the term “chinito,” which I haven’t heard since my childhood. I guess that word doesn’t make it into national discourse too often.

We’ve also learned that life doesn’t follow a movie script. Because if it did, Darvish would have been brilliant in his return to the mound, snagging the win in pivotal Game 7. Instead, the guy got hammered again, didn’t make it out of the second inning, and finished the World Series with an ERA of 21.60… ouch.

We’ve also discovered that Darvish, who was born in Japan, has really adapted to the California lifestyle. I mean, read the guy’s response to Gurriel. Darvish talks about “living in such a wonderful world” and says we need to “stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger.” He wraps up his hippie manifesto by saying, “I’m counting on everyone’s big love.” Yeah, the guy’s a Californian all right.

We’ve also realized that Major League Baseball is truly serious about punishing racist or bigoted behavior. Ha, I’m just kidding about that one. Gurriel got suspended, but if MLB really wanted to send a message, they would have expelled him from the World Series. That shit would have resonated.

Finally, we’ve also learned that you can win 104 games, tops in your league, and still fall one game short.

Baseball is funny that way.

 


Pick a Side

Good news — there is a 35 percent chance that the country will descend into open civil war within the next decade.

Now, you may ask, why is that good news?

Well, personally, I thought the odds of a second Battle of Antietam erupting within the year were around 50/50. So a risk of just 35 percent is positively optimistic.

Hey, nearly four out of five Americans “believe the nation is divided on the most important values.” And some experts claim that the nation is really a mash-up of almost a dozen different cultures where people “increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.” And, of yeah, in recent years, residents of both Texas and California have sincerely endeavored to secede from the union.

Naturally, we’re all wondering about the root causes of this internecine madness. Well, as is usual when nations start rotting from the inside, the main problem is the age-old malady of bigotry.

Yes, many social scientists have concluded that America is “vulnerable to racism, tribalism, and conflicting visions of the way forward for our nation.” And it certainly doesn’t help that our deranged president “modeled violence as a way to advance politically,” which feeds right into the narrative of the hardcore right wing and fuels talk of armed conflict.

Indeed, ever since the protests at Charlottesville, it should be perfectly clear to even the most idealistic person that “white fear of demographic change is a powerful force” and that “there are several lines of evidence converging on the idea that America is becoming a more hostile place for immigrants and outsiders.”

If you need further proof, “research does find that in the age of Trump — the age that started with an assertion that Mexicans were sending rapists to the US — it’s becoming more acceptable to be outwardly prejudiced.”

It’s all very depressing, of course, and we are correct to wonder how America has so quickly devolved into a nation where racists feel pretty good about themselves, and hatred toward Muslims is shrugged off a conservative value.

Hell, there was a time (not so very long ago) when “psychologists feared that ‘social desirability bias’ — people unwilling to admit they’re prejudiced, for fear of being shamed — would prevent people from answering questions about prejudice truthfully.” But in this terrible new America, “people will readily admit to believing all sorts of vile things. And researchers don’t need to use implicit or subliminal measures to suss it all out.”

This willingness to be horrible only verifies what progressives and ethnic minorities have been saying for years about a large subsection of America.

And yet, many media outlets still indulge in delusional thinking about Trump and his supporters. Despite mountains of anecdotal evidence — and in some cases, actual data-driven research — many commentators still dance around the issues of racism and xenophobia that characterizes Trump’s most ardent fans.

I mean, how many more studies do we need that show fictional “discrimination against whites was a core concern of Trump’s base”? No, it wasn’t a weak correlation or a side issue. It was a “core concern” of Trump’s support.

How often do we have to hear that “changing racial demographics of America contributed to Trump’s success as a presidential candidate among white Americans whose race/ethnicity is central to their identity”?

The truth is that there are millions of Americans who dream of an all-white country, one that is presumably 100 percent straight and Christian as well.

These are people who have never faced governmental or cultural oppression, and “who sat through the unit on the Second World War in their history class and looked at images of concentration camps and gas chambers and burning books and Anne Frank’s attic and still thought, well, hang on, maybe those Nazis had some interesting ideas.”

And they are all for Trump — to the point that he can no wrong and will never lose their support.

Now, in contrast to the bizarre enthusiasm that Trump supporters have of their man’s performance so far, more than half of all Americans and more than two-thirds of Latinos disapprove of the guy.

These are fundamental differences. One might even say that they are irreconcilable.

And since we’re using that kind of language, let’s admit a basic fact — one that may help us avoid open warfare.

We’re 240 years into this marriage, and maybe it’s time to admit that we’re no longer happy in the relationship. We have clearly grown apart. In fact, it’s worth asking if we ever really got along, because after all, there have been more than a few rocky times and bumps in the road over the decades.

Perhaps everyone would be happier if we called it quits and promised to stay in touch — you know, to negotiate intercontinental trade deals and stuff like that. But this whole idea that we are a unified nation and a cohesive culture… well, come on.

Who are we kidding?

 


Gemütlichkeit

Don’t tell me about Oktoberfest.

I’ll tell you about Oktoberfest.

You see, I’m from Wisconsin (specifically, Milwaukee, as I’ve written about). And because I hail from a city that is synonymous with beer and a state that is awash in Germanic culture… well, let’s just say that I’ve partaken a few times in the festivities.

Hint: When you’re drinking from the glass boot with your friends, avoid gulping the heel. It just bubbles up in your face.

beer-boot-funny-square

 

Of course, the tradition of Oktoberfest has spread across America.

Hey, just yesterday, I saw a dozen people dressed in lederhosen, sprinting down the street outside my apartment, in some kind of bizarre footrace for beer. And I live in Los Angeles, far better known for its Latino, Asian, and Armenian influences than its German ones.

In any case, Oktoberfest has become Americanized, just like — yes, it’s true — Cinco de Mayo and Día de los Muertos.

The difference is that there is no movement to sever Oktoberfest from its Germanic roots. And nobody views Oktoberfest as an affront to American values, or complains that everything was fine until those damn Bavarians showed up.

You get the picture.

For some mystical reason, it is fine — even glorious — to celebrate Oktoberfest or St. Patrick’s Day. And there will be no political backlash.

Cinco de Mayo and Día de los Muertos, however, are likely to get at least a few people all huffy.

When we acknowledge Germanic and Irish culture, no one claims that doing so “divides us” or undermines the quest for a colorblind society (whatever that means) or somehow cheapens the label of “American” because we’ve put “German” or “Irish” in front of it.

This is not the case with any holiday that has committed the grievous sin of having a Spanish name.

Well, I’m sure it’s simply an unfortunate coincidence.

So let’s all just relax and have a beer.

 


Revenge of the Whigs

 

Remember that political party that vowed to make America great again?

No, I’m not talking about that one. I meant the Know-Nothing Party, which has the most pitifully truthful name of any political group in American history.

In any case, the Know-Nothing Party originated in 1849. Its members strongly opposed immigrantion. Their whole thing was about preserving what they felt was the perfect America — one in which (by sheer coincidence) they held positions of power.

Well, it didn’t turn out so well for that party, as we know, and it collapsed into disgrace.

And that reminds us of the Republican Party — no, not the current one.

I’m referring to the Republicans of the 1930s. That version of the GOP gave our nation the most horrific piece of legislation with the most hilarious name: the Smoot-Hawley tariff, which helped kicked off a little something called the Great Depression.

Regardless, the 1932 GOP platform boasted that the “restriction of immigration is a Republican policy” and featured unabashed “hostility to almost all immigration.” This didn’t work out exactly as they hoped, in that it “contributed to the defection of ethnic voters to the Democratic Party and to Democratic dominance of the political scene for more than a generation.”

There are other examples of political groups basing their appeal on anti-immigrant feelings, and in every case, this approach has backfired.

Hey, just ask residents of the state I live in, California, why the Republican Party is basically extinct here. It can be traced back to Governor Pete Wilson, who led the GOP on an ill-fated anti-immigration crusade.

You see, anger toward immigrants has never worked — as a political strategy — in American history.

And this brings us back to the current GOP, and its insistence that it will make America great again, which is really just code for this:

makewhiteagasinss

Even if Trump wins the election — a nauseating thought that is mercifully unlikely to happen — the prospects don’t look good for the Republican Party in the long term.

Don’t take my word for it. GOP strategists have admitted that Republicans “must find a way to appeal to more nonwhite voters” and that “the math is only going to get worse” when it comes to ethnic minorities and immigrants.

Again, every political party that has pushed an anti-immigration agenda has either been obliterated or had to rebrand itself decades later. It has never worked in the long run.

So why would Trump’s version of the GOP be any different?


Strike Three

We’ve already pinpointed two reasons why the future looks bleak for the GOP when it comes to attracting Latinos. Basically, Hispanics are younger and becoming better educated, both of which align with liberal values.

But there is a third reason for sparse Latino attendance at future Republican conventions. And it’s an obvious one.

It’s because the GOP has treated Hispanics like shit.

Yes, it really is that simple.

rejection-free-recruiting

 

 

Now, this isn’t a perception issue or poor marketing, which is what many GOP strategists want America to believe. No, it’s the cold hard reality of the Republican Party’s offshoot of the Southern Strategy, which was to demonize blacks in order to convince white racists to vote GOP. And it worked, at least for a while.

The later version of this strategy was to paint immigrants in general, and Hispanics in particular, as an invading force and a direct threat to America. And this too worked, at least for a while.

Clearly, most Republicans aren’t racists. But their willingness to tolerate subtle bigotry — and at times, overt racial animus — has finally caught up with their party.

After all, such politically loaded ideas as Prop 187 were SB 1070 were Republican proposals, no matter how much the party wishes to distance itself from them now. And the GOP’s presumptive nominee for president couldn’t get through the announcement of his candidacy without slandering Latinos.

No, this isn’t some left-wing plot. Republicans did this to themselves, and as much as they want to complain that Democrats are the real racists and conservative values align more with Hispanics and blah blah blah, none of it matters.

Latinos see Trump and his minions clamoring to build a damn wall, and they see GOP policies of the recent past, and they see statistics like this: “56% of Republicans viewed immigrants as a burden on the country; just 17% of Democrats said the same.”

And then Latinos vote Democrat. This is despite the fact that Democrats haven’t been great for Hispanics, and that Latinos have been excluded “from leadership positions in progressive institutions and, some would argue, from involvement in the movement as a whole. “

When you have only two choices (i.e., our current political system), you go with the people who have merely disappointed you, and not with the people who actively hate you.

Interestingly, some commentators say the GOP would be better served by focusing on African Americans, which is ironic and even a little laughable. But it isn’t stupid. After all, “it is generally easier to grow market share when starting from nothing.”

It is also an acknowledgement that Latinos are a lost cause for the GOP, at least for the near future.

So what are the odds that over a decade from now, lots of thirtysomething, well-educated Latino Millennials will vote Republican?

Well, the chances are only slightly better than the odds that there will be a Republican Party at all.

 

 


Fading Into Insignificance

This weekend, Chris Rock will host the Oscars, during which he will — maybe, possibly, in all likelihood — address the fact that the last 40 acting nominees have all been white. He may also mention that the track record of behind-the-scenes nominees (e.g., writers, cinematographers, and so on) is even more dismal.

Now, many people have hyperanalyzed the reasons why the Oscars are so white, and why the film industry lags behind other art forms in projecting America as it actually exists, and whether or not this is all a misunderstanding or deeply ingrained racism.

I’m not going to recap all the backlashes and counter-backlashes that this mess has conjured up. But I do want to point out one very telling, almost universally ignored aspect of this controversy.

BRENTWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Nate Sanders displays the collection of Oscar statuettes that his auction company will sell online to the highest bidder on February 24, 2012 in Brentwood, California. (Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images)

 

You see, the Academy has announced that it is changing the rules, and eliminating people who are no longer active in the film industry from its roster of voters.

This has predictably riled up those long-time Academy members who are in the twilight of their lives, many of whom are crying, “Ageism!” They may have a point.

But what I find interesting is that, in the reasons and justifications for their opposition to this rule change, more than one Academy member has said that it is unfair to ethnic minorities. As many commentators have noted, “if there’s a black Academy member out there who agrees, please do get in touch.” And yet, many people still embrace the idea that altering the status quo to increase diversity is actually a bigoted response.

What does this tell us?

Well, for starters, it shows once again that people who are accused of being racists will often turn around and shout that their opponents are the real racists. It’s a nifty bit of swift-boating.

It also reveals that acknowledging an institution’s biases — and by extension the touchy topic of white privilege — causes people to freak the fuck out and get more than a little defensive.

But more than anything, it serves as direct evidence that white people in positions of privilege, such as rich Hollywood types, feel that they can pontificate on any issue and shout down any viewpoint different from their own.

Think about it. Here you have a wealthy white person deciding what is and isn’t fair to ethnic minorities. He or she isn’t concerned with whether or not ethnic minorities perceive it that way. Privileged individuals are used to having their voices heard, so why should this subject be any different?

In this way, they prove, unintentionally of course, that there really is a racial problem in Hollywood. After all, this is a case of rich white people saying, “There, there, all you struggling blacks and Latinos. We’ve decided that your proposed solution is actually harmful to you, and in our great magnanimity we’re going to fight against it — for all of you, of course.”

It doesn’t get any more arrogant.

 

 


Genuine Imitation

When Senator Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses, many media outlets noted that he became the first Hispanic to win a caucus, anywhere. But that milestone quickly became subsumed in a discussion of whether Cruz was really and truly Hispanic. Perhaps he was one of those LINOs (Latino in name only), or as I heard growing up, a coconut (brown on the outside and white on the inside).

 

[ File # csp6110028, License # 1325460 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / margo555

Personally, I accept both Cruz and Marco Rubio as Latino. But clearly, neither is illustrative of the Hispanic experience.

For example, picture Rubio playing up his family’s immigration experience to a crowd of Latinos in Texas. “Yes, my family came from Cuba, which means we were granted special status and didn’t have to worry about ICE raids like all of you. Now who wants me to kiss one of their niños?”

Or imagine Cruz talking about his privileged past to a crowd in East LA. That’s about as likely as him playing up the fact that he was born in Canada (which is apparently still a shocker to many Republicans), or denying the scientific consensus that he has a creepy face.

But it’s much more than their backgrounds, of course. As president, neither would tackle issues crucial to the Latino community. Rubio has flip-flopped so many times on immigration that it’s impossible to know what he believes. Perhaps more refreshingly, Cruz is upfront about his right-wing insanity, so we know he really couldn’t care less about affordable health care or better schools or other touchy-feely concepts that Latinos inexplicably want addressed.

As such, I would never vote for either of these guys, and stats show that most Latinos agree with me and, furthermore, aren’t too wild about the GOP in general.

But like it or not, they are both Hispanic. In any case, I’m not one to pass judgment on their Latino bona fides.

I’m fairly light-skinned for a Latino. I’ve never been to my family’s homeland (El Salvador). And my Spanish is lousy (ok, maybe a little better than Cruz’s). So does all that make me a fake Hispanic?

I hope not, because in that case, I would have to change the name of this website.

 


Family Far and Wide

So I was at the ophthalmologist’s office, getting my yearly exam to make sure glaucoma hasn’t kicked in, or that my retina hasn’t detached (again).

In any case, the nurse looked at my chart and said, “Hey, we have the same last name.”

Now, the only people I’ve ever met with my last name are cousins or aunts or some other semi-immediate family member. So this was a little surprising.

The nurse made me go through my family history, and we discovered that we have the same great-grandfather (!). Yes, I too am impressed that I was able to remember the name of my great-grandfather. Try it sometime — it isn’t easy.

According to my subsequent Google research, the nurse and I are second cousins. She was California-born, which makes sense in that the largest population of Salvadorians (outsider of El Salvador, of course) is right here in Los Angeles. And she assumed, naturally, that I was also a SoCal native.

“No,” I said. “I’m from Wisconsin.”

Consider her mind blown.

Yes, the nurse was impressed that our family name had made it all the way to the American Midwest. But then she added that some of her cousins (my third cousins?) moved to Melbourne a decade ago.

“I talked to them on FaceTime a few weeks ago,” the nurse said. “They have these El Salvadorian kids who have thick Australian accents.”

Well… crikey.

nw-gal-aus-20140125214254582223-620x414

 

Later, I told my mom about running into my second cousin, the nurse. Mi madre really wasn’t that surprised.

“Your great-grandparents had eighteen children,” my mom said.

“I’m guessing they were very Catholic,” I said.

“Yes, so you were bound to run into a cousin someday.”

OK, that’s true. But I still thought it was kind of cool.

 


Straight Outta That One Place

I’m old enough to remember when hip-hop first broke through. I’m talking about artists like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Slick Rick, and Run DMC. And what about Kid Frost, arguably the first Latino rapper?

Of course, I definitely remember the first time I heard NWA. Those guys were fucking terrifying.

 

o-STRAIGHT-OUTTA-COMPTON-facebook

At the time, I had never been to Los Angeles. Now I live here — something I could not have predicted all those years ago. And yes, I have spent a little time in South Central.

Compton today is not the gangsta mecca that is was back in the day. The city still struggles with poverty and unemployment. But crime — especially homicide — has plummeted in recent years.

And for the place that symbolized African American disillusionment, there is some irony in the fact that Latinos now make up about two-thirds of the city.

Does this mean everything got better when Hispanics moved in? Well, that would be an interesting, even bigoted claim to make.

There are, of course, myriad reasons for Compton’s improvement over the decades, but it is undeniable that Hispanics have changed the city in many ways.

Naturally, culture clashes have occurred. It is human nature, unfortunately, for tribalism to kick in when “outsiders” show up. And that’s true whether it’s blacks moving in white neighborhoods, whites moving into Latino neighborhoods, Hispanics moving into black neighborhoods, and so on in every combination of cultural and ethnic diaspora possible.

But again, does the fact that this particular city is a lot more livable than it was thirty years ago mean that the album Straight Outta Compton is a period piece? Hardly — nor is the movie a look back at a distant past that is inconceivable to us.

Events in Ferguson and around the nation are enough to prove that.

The man himself, Ice Cube, says the only change in race relations is that cell phones now exist so that violent confrontations can be filmed.

Somehow, that doesn’t make us feel all warm and fuzzy.

 


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