Tag: gangs

Instant Karma

Although I was raised Catholic, I’m not a religious person. I’m more of a quasi-secular humanist, borderline atheist with Buddhist tendencies and Judeo-Christian influences (I mean, as long as we’re labeling here).

About the only supernatural concept I believe in is the idea of karma. Even that comes with a qualifier, because I think karma is more the result of our human decisions, good or bad, and less of a vague, mystical force.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about karma since reading Susanne Ramirez de Arellano’s article on the Murrieta protests. She covered the war in El Salvador in the 1980s, and she theorizes that the legacy of that war “is sitting on buses in Murrieta. The violent street gangs that now plague Central America, especially El Salvador, were conceived during this dark period.”

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Be on the Lookout

Here in Los Angeles, we’re relieved that police have arrested the thug who beat up a San Francisco Giants fan outside Dodger stadium (yes, I know the suspect is innocent until proven guilty, but let’s just say for the sake of this post that he did it).

As you may recall, on Opening Day in LA, a man dressed in Giants regalia, Bryan Stow, was jumped by a pair of angry Dodger fans, who beat him into a coma from which he may never wake up.

These boosters of the local team were supposedly pissed that a San Franciscan was on their turf. The real reason, of course, is that they were moronic hoodlums.

Because the main assailant was described as a Latino, Hispanics had time to brace ourselves for this latest ethnic embarrassment. Indeed, the suspect, Giovanni Ramirez, is described as “a stocky 31-year-old with a head shaved bald” who is a “documented member of [a] street gang,” and has “at least three prior felony convictions.”

In other words, he’s a cliché. But he’s a particularly lethal one.

I’ve written before about the frustration that Latinos feel whenever a Hispanic person commits a high-profile crime.

It’s an unpleasant sensation that doesn’t afflict members of the majority culture. For example, I doubt many white people cringed when Jared Loughner’s race was revealed (although we all winced upon discovering how easy it was for a psychotic to get a gun in this country).

Ramirez is just the latest living stereotype to make us all look bad. He’s one of the reasons why people frequently conjure up imaginary Latino assailants when they’re trying to conceal their own criminal behavior.

Recently, for example, a Canadian man named Robert Spearing lied to his wife about having tickets for Oprah Winfrey’s star-studded, mega-hyped, our-messiah-is-ascending final show.

Who knows why Spearing told this blatant fib to his spouse, but regardless, they drove all the way to Chicago before the guy realized, “Shit, I better make up some reason why I don’t have tickets.”

So “just before showtime, Spearing — bleeding from the forehead and his hands badly scraped — filed a report with cops claiming he had been mugged and the tickets stolen. He said two men — one African American, one Hispanic — had attacked him on the street.”

I suppose this can be viewed as an egalitarian approach to ethnic profiling. It wasn’t two black guys or two Latinos — it was one of each!

Of course, the cops quickly uncovered the fraud. Perhaps they realized that if anybody was going to be mugging people for Oprah tickets, it wasn’t going to be two guys (of any race). It was going to be distraught suburban women clutching copies of O and shrieking about Dr. Oz.

With hope, both Ramirez and Spearing will get their comeuppance. Their penalties will look very different, and their crimes don’t compare. But they share a mindset: They both believe that Latino men equal violence.

The fact that one of them is Hispanic just makes it all the more pathetic.


The Most Perverse kind of Pride

In a recent post, I talked about the insecurity that many Hispanics feel in relation to African Americans. As I’ve written before, we’re just not as cool.

Apparently, a few Latinos have taken this jealousy to a new low. According to this report, some Hispanic gang members in California “waged a racist campaign to eliminate the city’s black residents through attempted murders.” According to indictments, “Gang members take pride in their racism and… have expressed a desire to rid the city… of all African Americans and have engaged in a systematic effort to achieve that result by perpetrating crimes against African Americans.”

I’ve written before about the tenacity of Latino gangs. The usual factors of poverty, alienation from majority culture, and weak-willed groupthink help explain their popularity. If there is anything unique about Hispanic gangs – in contrast to black gangs – it is their appropriation of ethnicity as a motivating factor for lawlessness.

But I’m don’t know what to make of people who know claim the banner of ethnic pride, then proceed to reinforce every negative stereotype and fear-mongering accusation through sociopathic behavior. If I could excommunicate them from Hispanic culture, I would.

Now, I certainly don’t feel responsible for every idiotic move that a Latino makes. But this warrants a public display of disgust.

At the very least, I don’t want to fall into the trap that ensnared many Muslim Americans. A few years ago, they tried to object to their frequent demonization. But every point they made was effectively silenced with the rebuttal “You didn’t complain this much about Al-Qaeda. Denounce them if you’re so all-American.”

It should be obvious that every civilized person, regardless of race or creed, automatically rejects homicidal behavior. But just so everybody is clear: Let me be among the Hispanics who denounce these thugs.

And now we can return to our regularly scheduled rants.


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