Tag: Immigration

Don’t Ask Me Why

I haven’t shared my correspondence in a while, mostly because the hate mail has simmered down for some reason. I can only assume that my most virulent detractors have grown weary of repeatedly emailing me vague threats and hyperbolic insults.

I mean, really, there are only so many times that you can call someone a spic racist idiot communist before you move on to harassing women or trolling Muslims or screaming at gay people. Hey, I understand.

Instead of my usual hate email, I’ve been receiving questions more along the lines of “Hey, I thought this site was about Latino issues. Why the preoccupation with Trump?”

Well, it’s a fair question, although to be blunt, it’s also a bit of a naïve one.

You see, the focus of this site has shifted in the last year from chronicling the highs and lows of Hispanic culture to discussing the lows and lows (and lows and lows and lows) of the current occupant of the White House.

And this is because America has never had a president who hated Latinos more.

And yes, I’m including James K. Polk, who provoked the Mexican-American War solely so the United States could grab the West Coast (it’s true). And I’m also including Eisenhower, who instigated a massive deportation campaign called Operation Wetback (also true).

I’m sure those guys disliked Latinos, and some of our presidents were more racist — like Trump’s hero, Andrew Jackson, who wasn’t terribly fond of Native Americans, and just about every Founding Father who thought black people were good for nothing other than forced labor.

But none loathed Hispanics as much as Trump. Remember, the very first group he attacked, as he announced his candidacy, was Mexicans. And how much of his limited mental energy has been taken up with daydreams about massive walls and kicking out Latin Americans immigrants? The man really is obsessed with us.

Furthermore, no president has ever been as transparently bigoted as Trump, at least within the context of his culture. By that I mean we can all agree that Woodrow Wilson was a virulent racist, but a hundred years ago, when he lived, most white Americans were overtly prejudiced. Wilson was just worse.

Trump, in contrast, is living in enlightened time, when racism has been defeated, and people aren’t discriminated against, and… I’m sorry, I couldn’t finish typing that line without gagging.

The point is that our culture no longer defaults to bigotry, our government no longer enforces laws that are blatantly racist, and being a loudmouthed supremacist is frowned upon.

Within that context, Trump is egregiously racist.

Of course, you could argue that our culture does indeed default to bigotry, our government is once again enforcing laws that are racist, and being a loudmouthed supremacist is no longer frowned upon. But if that is true, we’ve regressed only since Trump was elected, which just reinforces the point that this guy has made racism acceptable again and moved our nation backward.

I mean, his prejudice is so well-known, so widely acknowledged, that even his supporters are acknowledging it now.

So when you’re dealing with the most anti-Latino president of all time, it’s difficult to focus on other topics. Believe me, I would love to get back to discussing the differences between Dia de Los Muertos and Halloween. And no doubt, I will soon.

But for now, it’s all I can do to keep up with this administration’s constant assaults on democracy, common sense, and basic decency.

And that’s why I keep writing about it.

 


Save Your Outrage

The government shutdown is over, amounting to little more than a long weekend for federal employees. It is now fashionable to insist that, on this issue, the Democrats caved or lost or ran away screaming into the night — whatever phrase suits you — as the GOP trounced them.

 

Indeed, I would have preferred if the Democrats had fought harder for Dreamers, or emerged with some kind of pledge for immigration reform. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, we have smug Republicans claiming they won, and pissed-off liberals shrieking that they will never donate another cent to Democrats unless the party runs a vegan socialist woman for president in 2020.

However, the truth is that Democrats were probably correct (at least on a political level) to compromise. It was becoming clear that the GOP’s idiotic assertion that “illegal immigrants” were getting preferential treatment over good, hard-working, red-blooded, god-fearin’ Americans was resonating, and the longer the shutdown went on, the more points the GOP would earn.

So the Democrats cut a deal and got CHIP refunded, which is hardly a minor thing. We’re talking about millions of poor children receiving health care (why exactly Republicans — the supposedly religious party — would be against this is a discussion for another time).

In addition, the Dreamers live to fight another day. Yes, we’ve been reduced to that vague concept of “hope” when it comes to DACA, but I remain optimistic that a program that has the support of the vast majority of Americans will eventually pave the pathway to citizenship that the Dreamers deserve.

And the further good news is that, as of right now, we’re not allocating any money to Trump’s damn wall, which remains the most simplistic solution to a complex issue in the history of American politics, as well as the biggest con on rural voters ever.

By the way, I’ll say it again: There will never be a wall — not a real one anyway. I can’t imagine the disappointment among white nationalists when, years from now, there is not even a brick on the Mexican border where there was supposed to be an impenetrable barrier.

Actually, their disappointment will be dwarfed with the realization that there are now more Latinos, Muslims, out gay people, and assertive women than ever before, and their emperor-god Trump did absolutely nothing to stem the tide,

But now I’m predicting what will happen years from now, which is always tricky business. So I’ll stick to prognosticating about the end of 2018, specifically the midterm elections in November.

No, I don’t know if Democrats will ride a fabled blue tsunami to victory, or if Republicans will once again find a way to cling to undeserved power. But I do know this: Months from now, nobody will even remember this shutdown, and whether the Democrats won or lost. This skirmish will not matter in the larger war.

And there are many more battles to come.

 


I Shouldn’t Have to Explain This

In case you’re confused, here’s a hint: When Nazis applaud you, it means you’ve probably said something racist.

Yes, our favorite demented, immoral leader slurred entire nations last week when he said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

Now, there’s been a lot of defensiveness over comments that are, prima facie, indefensible. Yes, some Republicans have criticized the president, including those who took personal offense. Of course, this is just further proof that many conservatives only care about an issue if it affects them personally, and seem to be incapable of basic empathy for others, but I digress.

However, most members of the GOP have embraced the same spineless cowering that has exemplified their party’s meek surrender to the mad emperor.

 

And a few have even tried to cover for him with excuses that range from the pathetic to the improbable.

In any case, all the outrage over one word — shithole — is understandable. But it’s not the main point. Because the thing that should really concern us is not the vulgarity or the specific linguistics, but the clear mindset and sentiment behind these words.

To show you what I mean, let’s look at some of the statements Trump could have made that would be merely reprehensible, unpresidential, and vile — but perhaps, maybe not full-blown racist, irredeemable, and grotesque. He could have said any of the following:

“Those countries are shitholes. I can see why people want to come to America.”

“Those countries are shitholes. I feel sorry for people stuck there.”

“Those countries are shitholes. We should try to improve those places.”

And so on.

But he didn’t say that. Again, he said the following:

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

In other words, those countries are shitholes and (more importantly) everyone who lives there, comes from there, or has ancestors from there are, by extension, useless pieces of shit themselves.

And of course, adding that you’re fine with immigrants from the whitest nations on Earth just reinforces the bigotry.

In essence, the president’s argument is indistinguishable from the rambling of some old racist drunk. Go ahead, make it a party game. See if you can identify the differences between Trump and your average bigot on a barstool. You cannot.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, my family is from El Salvador — or as it’s known in Trump’s world, Central Shitholeia. I’ve been very upfront about how troubled that country is.

But every nation, every group of people, has inherent dignity.

The ranting of a sad, old man who lucked into a position of power cannot change that.

 


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?

 


It’s the Economy, Estúpido

Of course, it’s still too early to know if Trump will destroy the American economy the way that he has destroyed the lives of thousands of immigrants, portions of the environment, and America’s image and reputation.

But certainly it is a bit disquieting that for the first time in seven years, the United States is losing jobs. To be fair, much of that has to do with the devastation that a cataclysmic (yet somewhat predictable) series of hurricanes has inflicted on the country.

In any case, if one is striving to boost economic growth, it is not a good idea to piss off Latinos. After all, the “U.S. Latino GDP is growing 70 percent faster that the country’s non-Latino GDP.” Furthermore, Hispanics have higher rates of entrepreneurship than other groups, and remain one of the fastest growing demographics in America.

So a sane leader would look at those facts and say, “Damn, these guys are the future, and our nation’s economic growth is intrinsically tied to their financial well-being.”

But come on, we’re talking about a small-fingered, narrow-minded, black-hearted demagogue who doesn’t even understand basic economics. Therefore, it’s little surprise that he has continued to focus his ire on Latinos, with devastating consequences.

For example, “retail sales to Hispanics are tumbling, as immigrants fearful after the election of President Donald Trump stay home and hoard their cash.”

In addition, many labor market measures show that Latinos “have not totally recovered from the Great Recession.”

And when it comes to confidence (consumer or otherwise), keep in mind that “67 percent of Latinos disapprove of the job Trump is doing. By comparison… 54 percent of all adults in the country disapprove of Trump’s job in office.”

Taken together, we see a president who is determined to alienate Latinos, who are of course, crucial to the economic functioning of this country. And we see Hispanics unable to fulfill their true potential because they are too busy fending off the political and cultural assaults of a man so unstable that even his fellow Republicans believe that he is “unraveling.”

All of this could help to sink the economy. And we’re not even talking about the price tag for his idiotic wall that will never happen.

But don’t get me started on that.

 


Stardust

Scientists, philosophers, and techno-electronica musicians agree on one thing: We are all made of stars.

You see, the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies, “as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago. Because humans and every other animal as well as most of the matter on Earth contain these elements, we are literally made of star stuff.”

It’s all very poetic, and either humbling or self-aggrandizing (depending on your point of view).

But a recent study has revealed that our origins are even more exotic than we thought. The research showed that “humans are formed from matter that flew billions of miles from another galaxy.”

Scientists now believe that “half of the atoms around us — including in the solar system, on Earth and in each one of us — come not from our own galaxy but from other galaxies, up to one million light years away.”

Basically, what happened a very long, long time ago is that supernova explosions threw out “huge amounts of matter from galaxies, spreading it throughout the universe … on powerful galactic winds.”

Seriously, how cool is that?

The scientists say that this new theory reveals the degree to which everything in the universe is connected. They add that because half of our atoms came from some distant supernova, “we could consider ourselves space travelers or extragalactic immigrants.”

Yes, you read that correctly.

On a cosmic level, at our most basic, we are all truly immigrants.

 


A Subtle Hint

Clearly, our flaming oil spill of a president can’t go a week without lashing out at Latinos. That’s no exaggeration.

We are still struggling to process the pardoning of Arpaio, and how it illustrates nothing less than pure contempt for Hispanics.

But now Trump has ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also called DACA — which puts “an expiration date on the legal protections granted to roughly 800,000 people known as DREAMers, who entered the country illegally as children.”

Of course, Trump’s defenders insist that he hasn’t killed DACA, because there is a six-month phasing out of the program, and Congress still has the option of addressing the issue, and blah blah blah.

Let’s stop the foolishness.

This was a cruel, wrong, and inhumane action that has no discernible benefit to America (unless you count “a potential $60 billion loss in tax revenue to the federal government and $280 billion hit to economic growth” as a good thing). Hell, even many Republicans support DACA.

Obviously, killing the program cheers up Trump’s base of racists and hard-right supporters. But more than anything, it is a petulant foot stomping by a bigot who just doesn’t like Hispanics terribly much. It is the shrieking of a black-hearted man who sincerely believes that “most people aren’t worthy of respect” and who suffers from a “profound fear of his fellow human beings — at least ones who don’t resemble him.”

And through all this, I have to wonder about those Latinos who still support Trump.

What additional evidence do they need to realize that this guy is not their buddy? What are they seeing in Trump that the rest of us are somehow missing?

Does Jeff Sessions have to show up at their front door, demanding that they pack up and get the hell out of the country, before they will acknowledge how much this administration loathes Hispanics?

Hey, don’t rule anything out.


Your Barrio Isn’t Worth Saving

Let’s say that you live in, once lived in, or otherwise have a fondness for a traditional Latino neighborhood in your city.

No doubt, you are aware that gentrification is a powerful force that is either the worst cataclysm in the history of urbanization, or a mighty godsend that will rescue every blighted neighborhood on the planet. Opinions vary.

But let’s sidestep that very real issue for now and address something we can all agree on: Many Hispanic neighborhoods have economic problems that need to be tackled, and improving the quality of life in Latino areas should be a top priority.

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not going to happen. Because your neighborhood, your barrio, is not going to improve.

You see, we have only so many resources — and more importantly, only so much empathy — in this country. And currently, both are being used up in the effort to rescue small-town America and the white working class.

Now, you might ask, “Hey, isn’t the white working class synonymous with ‘Trump voter’? And isn’t there lots of proof that many of them are racists who have sold out our country because of their fear, hatred, and ignorance?”

Ha, no. I have it on good authority (i.e., the mainstream media) that the WWC are actually the salt of the earth, and they have been cruelly left behind by economic elites, and they have suffered greatly due to myriad other injustices that curiously never get mentioned whenever we talk about ethnic minorities (but that’s a mere coincidence).

In essence, we have unlimited sympathy for poor whites, and vast reservoirs of excuses for why they are free of responsibility for their problems and/or questionable decisions. For those Latinos who live in struggling urban neighborhoods, however, the message is clear: This is all your fault, so quit your whining.

For example, that opioid epidemic devastating rural America? It’s a full-blown crisis. But drug problems in the inner city? Just the moral failures of black and brown people.

Aren’t you glad that I cleared that up?

Oh sure, you might point out that based upon every statistical fact, lower-class white people actually have many advantages over Hispanics, and in some cases even over those Latinos who don’t live in poverty.

It doesn’t matter, because the image of the proud but destitute coal miner — the embodiment of the white working class — is stronger than any silly little facts or figures you could throw around.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


Rave Reviews

So two months into America’s slow-motion collapse, it’s time to ask, what do Latino leaders think of our sociopathic, incompetent lunatic of a president?

Well, 403 Hispanic opinion leaders recently took part in what the National Institute for Latino Policy (NILP) calls, “the closest thing to an ongoing survey of national Latino leadership in existence today.”

Now, the NILP takes the rather odd position of breaking down survey results by Latino subsets (e.g., Puerto Rican, Mexican, Other Latino), so overall numbers are difficult to ascertain.

Still, the range of responses is pretty consistent across demographics. For example, the percentage of Hispanic leaders who think Trump will create “the wrong kind of change” in America ranges from 84% to 93%. That’s a pretty tight grouping.

So we can safely say that, for example, Latino leaders believe Trump is a menace on immigration, because anywhere from 93% to 98% of them think that.

As you can imagine, the survey’s results are fairly grim for the Orange Menace. We see that 93% to 99% of Latino leaders believe that Trump will divide the nation. And it’s clear that Trump’s Muslim travel ban isn’t exactly popular with Hispanic leaders, in that 87% to 96% of them disapprove of it.

So is there any good news for Trump in this survey?

Well, this is as close as it gets to positivity for the president:

Latino leaders are divided over whether Trump should be impeached for his business conflicts of interest, or for his shady dealings with Russia — with some even saying he should be impeached for his refusal to disclose his tax returns.

That’s right. Latino leaders aren’t split over whether Trump should be removed from office. About 65% to 73% of them want that.

The only bickering is over the precise way to do it.

For Trump, this constitutes a victory lap.


So Far, So Horrific

We are now approximately 1% of the way through the Trump presidency. That means, mathematically, it will only get 100 times worse.

To be fair, things are actually going great… for white nationalists and people who think immigrants are plotting to kill them in their sleep.

For the rest of us, not so much.

You see, the start of the Trump era is, by many accounts, “the most alarming in the history of the American presidency.”

 

The rate of Trump’s grotesque actions outpaces our ability to react to them. Are we really supposed to call our congressional representatives and organize protest marches and boycott companies and sign petitions every single day?

Hell, we barely have time to unboggle our eyes and force our slackened jaws shut before another monstrous executive order comes washing over the American landscape. The best we can manage most days is to force down our vomit.

But here’s one thought that will keep us focused. One inescapable truism that we should keep in mind at all times.

And it is simply this: Trump means everything he says.

All the talk about whether we should take him literally but not seriously, or vice versa, was overcomplicated nonsense from the start. It should have been apparent long ago that when a wannabe dictator says he’s going to do something, he fully intends to do it.

Trump is not capable of metaphor. I doubt the man even knows that word means. I’m serious — the guy boasts about never reading books.

You see, our tiny-fingered, small-minded president does not engage in subtlety, and the only time that he backs off on some of his more egregious pronouncements is when he no longer has any interest in them and/or because they no longer serve a purpose (e.g., prosecuting Hillary Clinton).

Otherwise, he is remarkably consistent.

This does not mean that he will succeed in his endeavors. For example, that fabled wall with Mexico is never going to be built. But this is only because reality will intrude. This barrier might take the form of logistical issues or— it’s possible — political resistance.

But he will not stop of his own free will. He will not moderate his views. He will not listen to reason or decency.

I have never understood why any sane person would think otherwise.

For example, some conservative Latinos voted for Trump under the bizarre assumption that he would be more respectful to Hispanics or even compromise on immigration. That idea doesn’t look so bright now.

Of course, that’s not as bizarre as Middle Eastern immigrants who just assumed his talk of banning them was, I don’t know, some oddball banter from a kooky billionaire.

Heed their regret. And please remember this for the next four years. He means everything that he says.

That makes it even scarier, doesn’t it?

 


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