Tag: tribalism

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?


The Militant

Like many ethnic minorities, I have been accused more than once of hating white people.

But for someone who despises the white race, I am seriously guilty of fraternizing with the enemy. I don’t want to get into the whole “some of my best friends” are this or that, but I’ll just mention that my wife (of German ancestry) would be a little peeved to find out about my deep-seeded hatred of white people.

I guess I’m also wracked with self-loathing, because (as I’ve pointed out many times) I’m half-white myself (on my father’s side).

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Fantasy Land

I once hurt someone’s feelings, and not via my usual method of making an ill-timed, biting joke. No, I disappointed my friend because I said that eradicating racism is impossible.

She is a hippie type who inexplicably thinks that someday humanity will get its act together and take a break from the self-slaughtering. But that will never happen — at least not completely, everywhere on the globe.

Well, there is one solution…

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Fan Mail

It’s been a while since I shared the contents of my reader correspondence with you. I’m not talking about the comments that my posts receive. You can see those for yourself on this site, on the Huffington Post, at Being Latino magazine, or at whichever outlet is running my rant.

No, I’m talking about the emails that I get from readers who simply don’t want to be confined to the comments section. These emails usually offer praise, issue constructive criticism, or request help with some Latino-centric cause. All of those are legitimate reasons to reach out to a blogger.

But some of my readers’ emails get my attention for very different reasons. They are so colorful that it makes me wish I could be on their holiday card mailing list.

For example, there was the person who insisted that, because I was not an illegal immigrant, I had no right to blog about illegal immigration. The writer then went on to slam undocumented individuals as parasites on society and subhuman scum. The writer added, almost as an postscript, “By the way, I’m illegal myself.”

I set aside the Freudian implications of his self-loathing and moved on to read missives from right-wingers who insisted that I was a delusional idiot. One angry man disputed my conclusion that Latinos were poised to become a political force. The writer said, “Hispanics just aren’t smart enough to get organized.”

Well then, I guess the Republican Party has nothing to worry about.

But lest you think it is only social conservatives who hate me, let me point out that one furious leftist accused me of painting the Hispanic community in a bad light. The writer said that he was “going to do some digging” and expose me as a fraud. I’m indeed curious what his digging will uncover (maybe I’m secretly Italian!).

But my favorite email is one that I received in response to my piece about tribalism. The writer began her email with the ultimate rhetorical question:

“Are you retarded?”

Without waiting for my response, the writer pointed out that “White people took over this country fair and square. It’s not our fault we had the will, adventurous spirit, and superior weaponry to expand our territories.”

Clearly, this was a fresh perspective on history, as was the writer’s insistence that slavery was “a small price to pay for blacks getting to live around whites.”

However, the writer added that white people are not perfect. Apparently, they made a mistake putting Native Americans on reservations instead of “killing or deporting all the Indians after we kicked their asses.” The writer then asked, “Why do whites suffer the curse of compassion?”

That is indeed a stumper. But the writer apparently isn’t letting the mistakes of the past hunt her. She advised me that I “better shut the hell up and listen with respect when you are in a nation that was created by whites.”

She summed up her correspondence with the assertion that “this entire goddamn country is ours from sea to shining sea” before signing off with the identifier “White Woman.”

Although I thank everyone for taking the time to write in with his or her thoughts, I have to admit that White Woman made the most vivid impression.

Yes, it looks like I have a new pen pal.

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