Tag: jingoistic

Flags of Our Fathers and Mothers

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ethnic authenticity and the struggle for self-identity in a post-multicultural world.

Actually, that not’s true. In reality, I’m more apt to be thinking about taking my car in for a tune-up, or the odds of the Packers winning their division, or what Kate Winslet is doing right now (probably something sexy).

But when stray thoughts about ethnic authenticity and… well, the rest of it, actually do enter my mind, I think about a recent news story that caught my eye.

Here in California, we had a brouhaha, an imbroglio if you will, when a woman posted a video of herself berating people for flying a Mexican flag in their front yard. The woman, who was running for political office, ultimately lost her day job when the video went viral.

The family with the Mexican flag explained that they were simply expressing ethnic pride and meant no disrespect to America.

amer flag

There are several things going on here. First is the fact that a jingoistic bigot thought she would impress people by posting a video of herself being a bully, and maybe win the xenophobic vote in the process. It’s a sign of progress that this backfired horribly.

Second, the incident shows that for many Latinos, maintaining ties to one’s homeland is crucial to the concept of self-identity. And this drive for ethnic authenticity can span generations.

You see, Hispanics aren’t cowering under the boot of assimilation, like they did so often in the past. Back in the day, Latinos hid evidence of their roots, or they outright disowned their ethnicity, or they did anything they could to try to bluff people into thinking they were descended from the swarthier pilgrims on the Mayflower.

But contemporary Latinos are less likely to be ashamed of who they are, and displays of ethnicity are assumed — correctly — to be a right that can’t be subjugated.

Basically, if some nut comes onto your private property and starts lecturing you on how to be a real American, you are well within your rights to tell them to fuck off.

Now that this is settled, let me get back to those thoughts of Kate Winslet…

 


Wild-Eyed Zealots on the Loose … Or Not

I may owe the Pope an apology.

I’ve been critical of the Catholic Church and its stranglehold on Hispanic culture. It seems to me that religious dogma is a big reason why Latin America can’t dig out of its poverty-lined hole and, furthermore, why U.S. Hispanics are constantly scraping by for political, economic, and sociological power.

Well, I’m not rescinding any of that. But I am wondering if there is a bright side to overreliance on the Vatican.

You see, I recently wrote about the U.S. government’s fear that al-Qaida is trying to recruit American Latinos to its sick cause. The terrorist group supposedly thinks Hispanics can “move in and around the United States without arousing suspicion,” making it easier to execute crazy shit like setting off bombs.

However, there is no hard proof that this strategy is underway. As such, I have to wonder if al-Qaida has found it difficult to shake the Catholicism out of Hispanics.

I’ve written before about the powerful bonds between Latino culture and the Catholic Church. The Hispanic predilection to believe in a big guy in the sky is well-documented.

U.S. government officials are worried that it is at the “intersection with prison radicalization, gang culture, religious zealotry that you have a potential problem.”

This seems like quite a jump in logic. Yes, Latinos are overrepresented in American prisons, and gang imagery is unfortunately as big an albatross in Hispanic culture as it is in African American society.

But is religious zealotry more potent in Latinos than it is among, say, white evangelicals or African American Baptists? Why would believing in the Catholic doctrine make Hispanics more likely to convert to radical Islam?

And while we’re at it, why haven’t we seen terrorists from Latin America like we have from the Middle East? Indeed, residents of Latin America have more reason than most of the world to hate the United States. Our support for the region’s brutal dictatorships and/or drug-running rebels (whichever is convenient) has been so blatant that even jingoists don’t bother to lie about it.

And yet, citizens of Latin America don’t talk about exacting revenge on the United States or waging war. Far from it — they love the opportunities that the United States offers so much that many of them are willing to risk their lives to start over here.

Certainly the commonality, proximity, and shared history of the cultures have something to do with it. To people in Latin America, the United States isn’t some exotic, evil land over the ocean. They probably have family members who live here.

And similarly, it’s difficult to fire up a religious war when most residents in this hemisphere are some form of Christian. So again, is one factor for the absence of Latin American terrorists the prevalence of Catholicism in the culture? And might this strong faith be a hindrance to recruiting American Latinos for jihad?

Of course, I have no evidence for this thesis. I’m like the U.S. government that way. Still, I’m willing to give the Pope the benefit of the doubt and say that Latinos’ obsession with Jesus is one reason there aren’t a lot of Jose Padillas out there.

So score one for the Catholic Church. Now, if they would just listen to some modern ideas about birth control…


The Flip Side

I want to thank Chris, Rose, and Ankhesen Mie for their recent comments, as well as everyone who responded to my most recent article for the Huffington Post. The 160 or so comments I got on HuffPo are the most I’ve received for one article. And only a few people there were nuts and/or unruly.

That post, of course, was about the shooting death of a teenager, which clearly is a depressing topic. So these days, I’m looking for a sliver of optimism out there. I may have found it.

Now, I’ve written before that I’m a fan of PostSecret. This is despite the fact that too many of the secrets are actually just sappy affirmations. And I also think it’s odd that the creator of the site includes at least one image of a female breast in every week’s batch (that’s not a criticism; just an observation).

In any case, PostSecret may have achieved a goal that all we bloggers have, which is to save a life. This accomplishment has, for some reason, eluded me on this site.

But PostSecret may have done it. A few weeks ago, the site ran the following:

Yes, for some inexplicable reason, the illegal immigrant who made this card feels that Americans would be happier if he just dropped dead. I don’t know where he got that idea… unless it was the nonstop barrage of right-wing media outlets blaming the undocumented for everything from the economic collapse to imaginary crime waves, with rage-filled commentary that implied individuals without papers are less than human.

But really, I’m sure that had nothing to do with it.

So did the illegal immigrant jump to his or her death? No one knows.

With hope, however, this person saw the response that the secret provoked, and maybe this changed his or her mind.

“Time” magazine reports that, because of the postcard, “within 24 hours, nearly 20,000 people had signed up for a Facebook group titled ‘Please don’t jump,’ which was … linking in thousands of supportive comments.”

PostSecret adds that in the week since the secret was posted, “over 50,000 of you joined an online community offering encouragement and help” and that earlier this week, “hundreds are meeting on the Golden Gate Bridge to take a stand against suicide.”

I have to admit that this is quite a showing of support for one scared illegal immigrant. The outcome serves as a much-needed antidote to the hateful comments about the shooting death of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca (again, see my previous post).

Does this mean that there is still a kernel of compassion left in the increasingly jingoistic American soul? Is it possible that many people see the undocumented as fully human rather than as pests to be exterminated?

Well, that would be nice, wouldn’t it?


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