Heritage of Hate
Donald Trump? FTP!!!
Recently, it was Donald Trump’s turn to go on the annual right-wing presidential nut circuit and make racist anti-Mexican statements that were eventually reported by most media outlets. Trump had this to say:
“When Mexico sends its people,” Trump said during his presidential announcement, “they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.”
The specter of Mexican “rapists” encroaching at the gates of “civilization” is an historical fabrication and manifestation of the Euroamerican racist state of mind since the days of the Alamo when the settler-colonizers introduced the idea that Mexicans were sexual threats to White women.
John W. Hall, for instance, pleaded with Euroamerican settler-colonizers to imagine their wives, daughters, mothers, sisters and children being given up to “dire pollution” (rape) if they did not take up arms against the Mexican nation. Inside the Alamo, William B. Travis also wrote of “the pollution of the Texans’ wives and daughters” by Mexicans.
This is a documented historical fact that has been ignored in academic circles, mainstream media outlets, and social media platforms.
What Fundamental Values?
Sally Kohn, writing for CNN, stated that Trump “bashed the fundamental values on which our own nation is founded.” But seriously lets ask the question: what are those “fundamental values” that time and time again pundits always seem so desperate to defend and uphold?
To most Euroamericans, the core democratic principles and fundamental values of the United States are apparently found in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, which supposedly rest on the ideals of ”life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Yet for the Chicana/o-Mexicana/o people, America’s “fundamental values” are not “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but rather it is war, conquest, occupation, and exploitation at the hands of American Exceptionalism. Kohn’s America is great analysis is ahistorical and an outright lie.
In reality, Trump did not bash the “fundamental values” of the United States. On the contrary, Trump affirmed the racist anti-Mexican attitudes held by most Euroamericans since the earliest encounters with Mexicans in the 1820s in what is today the state of Texas.
Texas was/is not alone in its anti-Mexican hatred. To be sure, anti-Mexican racism could be found in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and the other areas that were once part of the Mexican nation.
Did Donald Trump push the racist rhetoric to its extreme? Not really! It just so happened to be documented in the age of social media where information moves at lightning speed. In fact to say otherwise, is to ignore the history of American slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow laws, and other American atrocities. Trump spoke from an entitled position rooted in the psyche of institutionalized Anglo-American racism.
In “Scarce More Than Apes”: Historical Roots of Anglo American Stereotypes in the Border Region (1988), David J. Weber describes how Anglo-American “pioneers” in the Southwestern region depicted Mexicans in unfavorable terms: lazy, ignorant, cheating, gambling, thieving, sinister, cruel, subhuman, and cowardly half-breed mongrels. Indeed, Noah Smithwick viewed “Mexicans as scarce more than apes.”
David J. Weber goes on to state how one Santa Fe trader preferred not to consider Mexicans as part of humanity and instead chose to classified them separately as “Mexicanity.”
Charles Bent who was “appointed” the first Governor of the New Mexico Territory after the U.S War on Mexico wrote that “the Mexican character is made up of stupidity, obstinacy, ignorance, duplicity, and vanity.” Ironically, Bent had no problem marrying into a prominent family with political ties in New Mexico. Bent married María Ignacia Jaramillo, a Mexicana. Apparently, money is never backward no matter where it comes from.
After visiting Mexico City in 1822-1823, the so-called “Father of Texas” Stephen F. Austin, as revealed in his private correspondence to James Brown Austin, showed his contemptuous view of Mexicans: “The people are bigoted and superstitious to an extreem [sic], and indolence appears to be the general order of the day.” “To be candid the majority of the people of the whole nation as far as I have seen them want nothing but tails to be more brutes than the apes.”
In a speech to Anglo settlers, the so-called hero of the “Texas War for Independence,” Sam Houston declared that “the vigor of the descendants of the sturdy north will never mix with the phlegm of the indolent Mexicans no matter how long we live with them.”
Arnoldo de León in They Called Them Greasers: Anglo Attitudes Toward Mexicans in Texas, 1821-1900 begins his study by asking: “What caused pioneers to feel this way? Why were their attitudes bigoted instead of neutral? What did they find in Mexicans that aroused xenophobic behavior, or what was it within themselves that generated that response?”
These are great questions to ask of Donald Trump, the hosts of Fox “News” and, to be honest, the right wing elements of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Arnoldo de León goes on to debunk the claims advanced by several Anglo historians of Texas who argue that during the period of 1821-1845, Anglo attitudes towards Mexicans were “very complex, at times contradictory, and constantly in flux.”
There was nothing complex, contradictory or in flux about Anglo attitudes towards Mexicans. Anglo social development reflected a genuine racial thought process from which they could talk and act freely without any political, economic or legal sanctions to worry about. Basically, racism was the law, and the law was on the side of racism.
As cultural heirs to Puritan ideas, these early Euroamerican settler-colonizers believed it was their “duty to make order of what they perceived as chaos” and as Stephen F. Austin would make abundantly clear, it was his intent to “redeem” Texas from “the Wilderness, to settle it with an intelligent honorable and interprising [sic] people.”
In other words, redemption meant “Whitening” Texas to be an exact racial (European) copy of the United States. In reality, there was really only one way to accomplish this and that was to wage war against Mexicans. No doubt it was low-intensity genocide.
In order to succeed, however, Anglo settler-colonizers needed to win the cultural war of position. Racial hegemony was helped along the way by national newspapers and journals, such as the Harper’s Weekly which characterized Mexicans in the most negative of terms.
As Chicana/o historians have demonstrated, these racist and stereotypical depictions eventually legitimized the violence that would be unleashed against Mexicans in the name of Manifest Destiny. It was this racist discourse that War Hawks used to wage war in Texas in 1835 and later against the entire Mexican nation in 1846.
Through American jurisprudence, vigilantism, scientific “objectivity,” historical amnesia, and political, economic, social, linguistic, and cultural repression, the United States has not ceased waging war against the Mexican people on both sides of the border.
Donald Trump is just another in a long line of racist, anti-Mexican voices in the history of Anglo and Mexican relations.
Enduring Anti-Mexican Narratives
To be sure, in the 20th century and continuing to the present, these racist anti-Mexican narratives would be central in racializing the public health, educational, employment, and “immigration” discourse that has negatively portrayed Mexicans as “disease carriers,” “illiterate,” perfect for “stoop labor” and part of an “foreign invasion.”
Truth be told, Donald Trump’s racist anti-Mexican statements were not an anomaly nor were his hateful words and violent language some random rant that could be easily dismissed. As history has shown, the abuse of linguistic and military power, for instance, has had violent consequences for those on the receiving end of such hatred.
It is no coincidence, then, that one day after Trump’s Hate Speech, the Charleston Shooting occurred. Without a doubt, White Supremacists have a platform to articulate their hate through acts of violence knowing full well they will be defended by the legal system and the mainstream media with their violent acts sanitized for public consumption.
Fox News went on the offensive to defend Donald Trump, even using one of our own (Ruben Navarrette) to downplay the racist statements as clownish: “As a Mexican-American, it’s easy to take offense at Trump’s comments on Mexico. What’s difficult is taking them seriously.”
The problem is that this isn’t a joke and both the racist right wing elements of the GOP and the Democratic Party actually believe in Whitening the United States. GOP policy is no joke and must be taken seriously. Although Navarrette goes on to list some of the other potential presidential candidates who harbor anti-immigrant (re: anti-Mexican) sentiments, downplaying Trump’s statements as clownish do not empower the Mexican community to defend itself by all means necessary.
There have been very few Chicanas/os who have spoken up, and even fewer “allies” who have stood in solidarity with the Chicana/o-Mexicana/o people (not surprising if you follow social media).
It should come as no surprise that the usual corporate appointed voices took the mantle to “speak up,” such as Jorge Ramos who mostly couched his response in old, tired economic cliches that Mexicans are: 1) immigrants; and 2) obedient hard workers. After all, the so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” debate is usually centered on the economic benefits that Mexicans and Central Americans bring, while erasing any discussion of human rights.
Time and time again, through Ramos’ Eurocentric lens, he erases our historical claims to the land and our identity.
Add to the fact that Ramos probably only spoke up because his daughter, Paola, will have a role in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. In the eyes of a Chicana/o-Mexicana/o voting public, it is important to make Hillary Clinton the opposite of Trump. Hillary’s views on “immigration,” however, aren’t any different than those on the far right.
Of course, Jorge Ramos stands to profit from all the hoopla as he is the top anchor for both Univisión and Fusion. In early January 2015, Univisión was shut out from the Republican 2016 debates. Although the Washington Post says Univisión didn’t apply to host an event. So let the GOP v Univisión “controversy” put into perspective that whole Trump v Univisión tug-of-war.
Univisión as Gatekeeper
Univisión has been on the spotlight of late for canceling the Miss Universe pageant from their airwaves. From an ethical and moral standpoint, Univisión did the right thing and should be commended for taking action, especially considering that their platform does not include playing oppositional politics.
Let’s just say for a moment that Ruben Navarrette is right in his assessment that we shouldn’t take Trump seriously.
So what I don’t understand is this: Why doesn’t Univisión and for that matter those so-called Mexican American civil rights organizations ever speak up forcefully and defiantly when actual laws and policies are legislated and enforced by the President and Congress?
How does Univisión find Trump’s rhetoric more threatening than the actual punitive laws designed specifically to target Mexicans and Central Americans?
Why has Univisión never dared to boycott the Deporter-in-Chief Obama? The Obama Administration is personally responsible for an increased enforcement of immigration laws resulting in not only the most deportations than any of the previous presidents, but in the separation of families.
How can Univisión stand in solidarity with The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), yet never stand in solidarity with true grass roots efforts to end the deportations, to end the separation of families, to call for the full legalization of Mexican and Central American people, and for genuine self-determination?
Univisión, as a gatekeeper for Hispanic and Latino interests, have had their own share of racist incidents in the last couple of years, but it is mostly through its programing that they have been involved in erasing Indigenous identity and culture.
Univisión’s whiter than white programming is not one to be proud of. The tragic irony that even Charlestown murderer Dylann Storm Roof had this to say about “Hispanic” television, according to the New York Times: “I remember while watching Hispanic television stations, the shows were more white than our own. They have respect for white beauty, and a good portion of Hispanics are white.”
Seems like Univisión’s racial and cultural imagery is properly working in erasing the Indigenous people of both the United States and Mexico.
A closer look at the NHLA press release is a “Who’s Who of LATISM.” If history is any indication, these Hispanic and Latino organizations will “publicly demand” from Donald Trump and whatever corporate entities are affiliated with Trump certain employment and monetary concessions, such as opening up a slot or two in a corporate administrative position to some non-Chicana/o-Mexicana/o.
Indeed, Univisión will exploit this issue on the backs of Chicanas/os-Mexicanas/os and in return give nothing back to the community. As it is, Univisión is already backpedalling on comments/posts made on Instagram by Alberto Ciurana, Univision’s president of programming and content, who likened Donald Trump to Dylann Storm Roof.
It is matter of time before Univisión backpedals with their tail between their legs and quietly apologizes to Donald Trump, well, after they monetize this whole incident.
De Tal Palo, Tal Astilla (roughly translated as a chip off the old block or like father, like son) are the ties that bind Donald Trump and Univisión together in the larger scheme of things. Donald Trump and Univisión have worked together knowing full well where each stands in terms of their contemptuous views of the Chicana/o-Mexicana/o people.
As in the case of the Arizona Boycott, when all the Hispanic and Latino organizations stood in “solidarity” with Chicanas/os-Mexicanas/os, once the smoke clears, Trump and Univisión will be marketing some joint venture in the future. Money somehow always finds a way to win. Just wait and see.
There is a history of anti-Mexican rhetoric and laws since the first encounters in the early 1820s. Donald Trump is just the latest to spew such hatred. His comments should be taken seriously as history has shown that these type of anti-Mexican statements are not “clownish” and in fact have led to acts of violence against Mexicans.
Acts of violence against Mexicans is not a relic of the past but have continued to the present, which was highlighted by the murders of Raul Flores and his daughter, Briseñia, age 9 in 2009. How many Mexican deaths will Donald Trump be responsible for?