Tag: ethnic identity

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over (Yeah, It’s Over)

This week, there were few images sadder or more pathetic than the sight of moderate Republicans desperately clinging to the hope that they could somehow, against all odds, stop Donald Trump and not have him be the GOP nominee.

Moderate Republicans refused to accept the reality that this is what happens when you associate yourself with bigots for decades on end. Yes, eventually the bigot becomes your flag bearer.

trump-supporters-guns-08

Of course, refusing to accept reality has been a hallmark of the GOP for a while now. In the conservative mind, Iraq did have WMDs, climate change is a hoax, and Obama was born in Kenya.

So Marco Rubio riding to the rescue and winning the nomination at the last second was another naive fantasy, the latest in a long line of truthiness. It was Republicans yet again insisting that reality would bend to their wishes, and the world would be the way they wanted it to be, rather than the way it actually is.

And this brings us to the biggest truthiness of them all, which is the Republican insistence that their party is not attractive to racists.

“No,” they shriek. “That is a liberal lie.”

Well, somebody better tell all those white supremacists and neo-Nazis who are celebrating Trump’s victory that they are mistaken. Clearly, the Democratic Party is the place for them.

Now, let’s be clear about this, because it always bears repeating. The vast majority of Republicans are not racists. In fact, the vast majority of Republicans want nothing to do with racists.

However, to deny that there is a virulent strain of bigotry in the GOP is to once again deny reality. And as Exhibit A, I give you their presidential nominee, a man so prejudiced that members of his own party regularly call him out on it.

And we’re not even getting into the infamous Southern Strategy and the dog-whistles that have helped the GOP build a base of white resentment, all while moderate conservatives held their noses and rationalized it.

Strangely, it is now — when all doubt has been removed about the bigotry in their ranks— that conservatives have indulged in the most far-fetched of all scenarios, which is that racism is not only nonexistent in their party, but in America as a whole.

Cops aren’t killing unarmed black men, and Latinos aren’t the targets of hate crimes, and Muslims are absolutely beloved, and on and on.

Hey, I’m trying to be sympathetic. It’s psychologically disturbing to say that America has a racism problem, and that if you’re conservative, you’re enabling it.

But let’s not kid ourselves. There is a very strong practical and political reason for this denial. Basically, if the Republican Party continues to insist racism is not a serious problem, then they don’t have to do anything about it. After all, why would you solve a problem that was already taken care back in 1968?

It is this mindset that has given us the modern Republican Party. I have to wonder if the GOP will do anything about it, or if conservatives will just insist that everything is fine.

Just fine.

 


Don’t Feed the Animals

As many of you know, I am the father of the most awesomeness, coolest, greatest multiethnic little boy ever (and no, I’m not biased in the least).

And as many of you parents out there also know, being a toddler’s dad means that you spend a lot of time at the zoo. I’m talking yearly membership and don’t make any other plans for Saturday mornings — that kind of thing.

Now, many people have issues with zoos, based on animal rights and other noble ideas that I really don’t want to debate right now. But suffice to say, I’ve encountered a few protesters on occasion when I’ve taken my son to the zoo. They have all been polite and reasonable, by the way.

So I was unsurprised when I approached the zoo gates this past weekend (chasing after my turbocharged kid, of course) and saw a man with a bullhorn.

bullhorn_full

 

I figured he was a PETA supporter or was angry about Billy the elephant or something like that. But no, he was yelling about racial discrimination and the evil bigotry that went on at the zoo.

This naturally got my attention.

He was a gangly white guy, clearly on his own, with no protest signs or marching compatriots or petitions to sign. He was just screaming about Mexicans (and by this, I assumed he meant Latinos in general) and their supposedly shoddy treatment at that most nefarious of places: the zoo gift shop.

Yes, he insisted that the zoo gift shop discriminated against Mexicans. To be honest, I’m not sure how they supposedly discriminated, because his ranting was a bit hard to follow. Apparently, the zoo gift shop was refusing to hire Mexicans, or refusing to sell items to them or exploiting their labor or some combination that I didn’t quite understand.

In any case, I was mildly impressed that this white guy would take time out of his day to stand up for his Hispanic brethren.

This era of good feelings lasted about twenty seconds.

Because then the guy shouted, “And do you know who the gift shop helps? All those filthy horrible Muslims!”

Yikes…

I’m still trying to figure out this man’s rather precise prejudice. After all, he apparently liked Hispanics. But in accordance with the new pyramid of bigotry prevalent in America, he despised Muslims — completely abhorred them, in fact, because he went on yelling some pretty grotesque things about Islam and Mohammed and sharia law and on and on and on.

Let’s be clear: this is the kind of support we Latinos most definitely don’t need.

My son did the wise thing and ignored the bigot at the front gate, and we went in to see the gorillas because they’re his favorite.

When we came out, the nutjob protester was gone. But I couldn’t help but think of him on the drive home.

More specifically, I couldn’t help but think of my favorite Lou Reed lyric: “Well I know one thing that really is true / This here’s a zoo / And the keeper ain’t you!”

Tell ‘em, Lou.

 


A Sort of Madness

You can imagine my alarm when I first heard the term “immigrant psychosis.”

Evidently, this was a very real issue back when Ellis Island was booming, and lots of Italians and Irish people were coming off the boats and making everything in America all weird and strange and different.

Psychologists of the time identified a malady common to the recent arrivals, and these professionals dubbed it “immigrant psychosis.”

Today, we know it by a more common name: Homesickness

Yes, most of the American doctors were generations removed from their immigrant roots, and they had no experience living someplace new and exotic. As such, the concept of homesickness was unknown to them.

headmirror

So when immigrants displayed odd behaviors such as depression and anxiety — combined with the bizarre new emotion of nostalgia — the psychologists gave it a name and insisted it was confined to the Irish and Italians (and maybe those Chinese people too).

Of course, we now recognize homesickness as a common complaint of everyone from college students to people on long overseas trips. It’s hardly a psychosis.

But unfortunately, today’s immigrants often have more to deal with than a bout of sad sentimentality. A recent study found that “the stress and hardship faced by immigrants setting up in a new country could be contributing to an increased risk of psychosis” among new arrivals.

Basically, more immigrants are having issues adjusting to their new lives. And when they do encounter these problems, they have more difficulty getting the mental health assistance that they require.

The study added that “racism and discrimination are certainly one of many things that are contributing” to the increasing mental distress of immigrants.

So this is fresh proof that the whole nativist attitude is psychotic (or at least contributes to it forming).

It’s almost enough to make one yearn for a simpler time… which is ironic because excessive yearning is a sign of homesickness, which is how all this started in the first place. Damn.

 


Look Back in Horror

I am the child of an immigrant. My mom is from El Salvador, so I grew up with the tastes and influences of a typical American teenager, all mixed with a strong awareness of Latino culture and history. I’m pretty grateful for the combo.

You know who else is the child of an immigrant? Omar Mateen, the psychopath who murdered 49 people in Orlando a few nights ago.

orlando-shooting-0612-large-169

Mateen and I clearly had different interpretations of the dichotomies that come with being members of the first generation to be born in America. For example, I blended a love of hamburgers with an appreciation for pupusas, and I gave the music of my mother’s homeland a fair listen before popping in a Soundgarden album. It was a bit of a mezcla.

But Omar Mateen wasn’t interested in mixing cultures. He found it easier to just embrace the problems, prejudices, and anger of his parents’ country. Mateen latched onto his father’s homophobia and the religious mania that is widespread in his family’s homeland. And in so doing, he set out to be more culturally authentic than his parents ever were.

This is not an issue of assimilation or integration, as so many people believe it to be. No, it is more of a cultural mindset.

It is a mindset that provokes young men, born and raised in America, to adopt the radical politics of their parents’ homelands. It is a mindset of fear and fury.

The massacre in Orlando — and the fact that so many of the victims were Latino — got me thinking about how this cultural perception forms one of the many roots of bigotry and violence.

Let’s ask, why are there no Latino terrorists, going on shooting sprees or strapping on bombs to avenge the pain and misery that the United States government has inflicted upon El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and other Latin American countries?

Indeed, there is ample reason for Hispanics to be more than a little pissed about our treatment and standing in the United States.

And yet, survey after survey shows that Latinos are more optimistic about the future and more positive about life in general than just about any other American demographic. We are pretty much the last people to use the injustices of the past to justify abhorrent behavior.

One reason for this is so obvious that it borders on the simplistic. But here it is: Latinos tend to look forward.

We pack up and move to new countries in search of better lives. We assume our kids will do better than us. We have faith that circumstances will improve.

And this forward-thinking mindset, this cultural tendency to dismiss the woes of the past, helps us to maintain optimism in the face of economic and political tribulations. It helps us to set aside our pain and disappointment, rather than hoist them upon our backs for all to see.

In contrast, angry and hate-filled people tend to look backward, toward some vague past, and then they threaten to make America, you know, “great again.”

And other people, like Omar Mateen, not only look backward — they glare at it with a white-hot obsession and rage. They believe that their culture’s best days are long behind them, that the present holds nothing more than humiliation and despair, and that someone — maybe American society or gays or left-handed dentists or whoever — is to blame.

Omar Mateen, in addition to being a pathetic and homicidal loser, was an unimaginative, scared person who had no faith in the future. And someone taught him that mindset, inculcating him with the belief that it was reality.

As for his victims — people with names like Almodovar and Guerrero and Rios and Flores — they most likely had great hopes for tomorrow and next year and the next decade. But that optimism and those dreams were cruelly taken from them by a furious man who could do nothing better with his life than stare backward into the distant past.

 


Quack Quack

Among the stranger aspects of this bizarre election season is the tendency of Donald Trump supporters to insist that their candidate is not racist. The hyper-defensiveness goes something like this:

When he referred to Mexicans as rapists, he didn’t specifically say, “all Mexicans,” so it’s ok. Right?

And building that wall isn’t xenophobic. It’s a practical way to keep out all those immigrants… I mean, illegal immigrants… wait, I mean, undocumented people… he’s got nothing against immigrants. And neither do I. Ha ha ha.

Banning Muslims would just be temporary. That’s key. And not bigoted at all. Nope.

OK, he wasn’t the quickest about disavowing the KKK, but we’ve all been there… I mean, he said they were bad guys… eventually… after being criticized for days… but yeah, he did it.

And all those unfortunate cracks about “the blacks”… well, he meant, um… Hey, you’re just being PC!

And so it goes. La la la la, not listening to you.

hands-on-ears

 

Oddly enough, liberals seem to have no problem identifying Trump’s many prejudiced remarks. And Latinos, Asians, and African Americans are pretty clear on the fact that the guy is a racist.

On the other end of the spectrum, white supremacists and neo-Nazis are lining up to endorse the GOP nominee. They also appear to have no illusions about where Trump stands on race relations.

Only two groups of people seem baffled about this issue. First, there are moderate conservatives who are struggling to maintain their fiction that racism is dead in America (and who are also striving to justify their votes for a blatant bigot). And there are stray ethnic minorities who explain away or ignore the obvious for reasons that I can’t quite comprehend (although I presume some self-loathing is involved).

Let’s be clear about this. The truth is that if you support Trump, you are aware on some level that the guy has tremendous hostility toward anyone who isn’t a white straight man. And as you stand in that voting booth, sweating through your rationalizations, you will be saying that you are fine with that.

Remember, if it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s probably a megalomaniacal billionaire pushing a racist agenda.

 


American Mystery

Is there another word that conjures such blood-pumping, swooning love and/or as much headache-inducing vitriol as “America”?

Excuse me — make that “America!!”

Regardless of your level of patriotism, you no doubt have some kind of strong association to that simple word. “America” is shorthand for freedom and power and excess and liberty and dozens of other intellectual, emotional, and political concepts.

And what is the source of this four-syllable monument to complexity? Well, as you learned in history class, our mighty nation was named after Italian explorer, navigator, and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci.

Or was it?

You see, what we have been taught for generations may not be, strictly speaking, the truth.

There is a theory that Amerigo Vespucci was an opportunist who changed his name after the New World was christened, thus earning him some level of fame and improving the hell out of his branding efforts.

This theory holds that the word “America” actually comes from the name of an Indian tribe and of a mountain range in Nicaragua called “Amerrique.”

 

amerrique-mountains

Well, consider my mind blown.

Of course, we will never know the real answer, as half a millennium has a way of distorting people’s memories. So the Vespucci angle will no doubt continue to be the dominant story that schoolchildren learn.

But we have to ask ourselves, does it matter that our nation may not have been named after a European male, but rather took its moniker from a bunch of indigenous natives (Latinos, no less)?

Is it true that “to question the origin of America’s name is to question the nature of not only our history lessons but our very identity as Americans”?

You tell me.

 


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.

 

 


Strike Two

So we’ve established that Republicans have trouble attracting younger voters, and as a highly related tangent, we’ve pointed out that a lot of those pesky Millennials are Latinos. Hence, young Hispanics are not exactly lining up to vote Republican.

But as is often the case for the GOP, things are never so bad that they cannot get worse.

You see, when Trump crowed about how much he loved the poorly educated, he was just speaking the truth. Less-educated people make up an important constituency for the Republican Party.

In fact, “highly educated adults — particularly those who have attended graduate school — are far more likely than those with less education to take predominantly liberal positions across a range of political values. And these differences have increased over the past two decades.”

Basically, the more fancy book learnin’ you get in ya, the more likely you are to start talking more of that lefty commie crap.

welleducated

And who are these well-educated liberals? Well, we all know about the education gap. White people are more likely to have advanced degrees and attend prestigious universities.

But Latinos are making tremendous progress. No doubt you know that Hispanics are the largest ethnic minority group on U.S. university campuses, and that by some measurements, Latinos are even more likely than whites to attend college.

Although this comes with the caveat that Hispanics are more likely to be attending community colleges or two-year institutions, it is undeniable that Latinos are making huge inroads in education. In fact, over the last twenty years, the number of Hispanics enrolled in some kind of college has surged more than 200 percent.

So we have yet another reason why Latinos are not feeling the love for the GOP. We are becoming better educated and more likely to align with liberal values.

Hispanics go off to college and discover that climate change isn’t a hoax and that the gay people in their dorm are actually pretty cool and that the wealth gap can be analyzed in Econ 101.

All that gives conservatives the heebie-jeebies. And once again, it is Latinos who are doing the heebie-jeebing.

But is there a final reason why young Hispanics are dismissing the Republican Party? Hey, it wouldn’t be much of a trilogy of posts if I didn’t have a concluding chapter.

That’s coming next week.


Make It Stop

A few months ago, I wrote a rebuttal to all those parenting writers and mommy bloggers who insist that Gen X had the most awesomest and totally radical upbringing ever.

My article did not exactly go viral. I think it didn’t catch on because I pointed out, via facts and statistics, that it really wasn’t that great to grow up in the 1980s.

 

1980sfashion

Apparently, this is not a popular position.

So you can imagine my annoyance when my social media feed was recently clogged with yet another trending article waxing nostalgic about those good old days.

You know the type of article I’m talking about. They are usually 10,000-word manifestos, written by Gen Xers, that hit the following points:

  1. Our parents ignored us or treated us like slave labor (and it was great!)
  2. We walked on freeways at midnight to go play in abandoned junkyards (and it was great!)
  3. We didn’t get coddled or get awards for participation (and it was great!)
  4. Kids today have it too soft (and that sucks!)

And so and so on, always without any data or links or any outside analysis that might support the writer’s viewpoint. These articles are huge hits on the internet, despite the fact (or perhaps because) they all pretty much read the same.

I won’t get into the myriad reasons why this overly sentimental mindset is flawed (after all, I wrote a whole article about that already).

I will just add something that I neglected to mention the first time through. All of these articles that get under my skin have the added benefit of coming from people who invariably grew up in white, middle-class suburbs. And now as adults, these writers just assume we all came from that same background and/or live under those circumstances today.

So whenever these writers gush about watching the Brady Bunch and then playing in their cul-de-sac until Dad came home from his office job, I zone out.

Let’s just say that lots of Hispanics, and presumably African Americans, didn’t have this experience. Hell, a lot of white rural and/or poor kids didn’t have this experience.

But the assumption holds that the baseline of normal is white, middle-class suburban. Yeah, that’s a bit irksome.

So do me a favor, and please stop forwarding these articles to me. I don’t buy their premise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to my old Journey and Def Leppard albums.

 


I Will Wrestle You for America

Here at Hispanic Fanatic world headquarters, we are always interested in what our fellow Latinos are thinking and doing.

This is true even when our fellow Latinos have completely lost their fucking minds.

I’m talking, of course, about those Hispanics who support a certain reality-TV host who has roiled the presidential race.

Recent polls show that 80 percent of Latinos have an unfavorable opinion of the GOP frontrunner, with 70 percent having a “very unfavorable impression of him, which is more than double the percentage of any other major candidate.”

Yikes, that’s pretty overwhelming.

Still, it’s not 100 percent, which means there are indeed some Hispanics who are walking around in “Make America Great Again” caps and thinking overt misogyny is a presidential quality.

A few articles have profiled these outliers. My favorite is the Harvard-educated Latina who states, “If you’re an intelligent person, you would be supporting Trump because it would mean you actually understand the nuances of foreign policy.” Yes, that comment isn’t snide and condescending at all. And it’s completely based in reality because if there is one thing Trump knows, it’s the nuances of foreign policy.

 

TrumpWorldx2

This triple threat of theoretical anti-Trump mania — female, Hispanic, and well-educated — then gets all angry white male on us with her statement that “there’s just too many damn people here, many of whom are illegal.”

OK, so she’s interesting.

But what about other Latino supporters of Trump?

Well, they include people who say things like “I don’t speak Spanish, and the Mexican culture doesn’t resonate with me.”

Clearly.

In addition, there are those who believe Trump is “like un viejo malcriado, like an uncle who misbehaves. He says really stupid things sometimes, but he meant them at that moment.”

So apparently it’s ok to spew racism, childish insults, and bald-faced lies… as long as you meant them at that moment.

Moving on, we see that many of Trump’s Hispanic supporters like him “because he is a strong man who says what he means,” and possesses an authoritarian demeanor.

Hopefully, some psychology student out there will study how Latin America’s history of dictators and brutal strongmen has affected the Hispanic mind. Because here is fresh proof that Trujillo, Somoza, etcetera have caused many Hispanics to yearn for a tough guy to tell them what to do. And that’s not unhealthy at all — nope.

Finally, there is the strangest aspect of Trump’s Latino support. Many of his fans say they admire his honesty and sincerity. Then they immediately add the following:

“I don’t see how the country as a whole is going to stomach mass deportation and a wall being built.”

“No one is going to make 12 million illegal immigrants leave our country.”

“I really don’t think he’s going to build a wall.”

“I don’t think he’s going to deport everyone.”

It doesn’t take a political scientist to see the inherent contradiction in their thinking. They are basically saying, “I love his honesty, even though he won’t actually do anything that he says.”

Yes, it’s all very illuminating.


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