Thursday, July 12, 2007

A voice from Aztlan

Among anti-immigrationists, there is much gnashing of teeth about the so-called “Reconquista” – a movement among radical Hispanics to reclaim the U.S. Southwest as some sort of mestizo homeland.

Aside from one extremist website – which looks to be virtually a one-man operation – I’ve not seen or heard any Latinos advance this agenda publicly.

Well, thank the gods for right-wing talk radio.

My favorite L.A. radio station is KFI 640, home to some very entertaining local conservative yakkers, particularly the evening guy, John Ziegler.

Tuesday night, Ziegler discussed a news report forecasting that California’s population will swell to 60 million (from 36 million currently) by 2050. A majority of that 60 million will be Hispanic.

Ziegler said many whites will flee California as it becomes increasingly Hispanic, and that those whites would be justified in doing so.

Then he got a call from what I’ll describe as a self-hating assimilated Mexican-American. (The guy said that his “Irish first name” – Ryan – is “disgusting.” He feels robbed of his culture.)

For most of this 5-minute call, Ryan and Ziegler have a polite back-and-forth on racism and assimilation. Near the end, though, Ryan cuts loose and tells John Ziegler and all other white people not to wait for 2050 – leave now! “And don’t stop at the next state over,” he said. “Keep going. Get out of the entire Southwest. ... Get out of this land right here that we call Aztlan, ’cause we want Aztlan back!”

Ziegler laughed at him. Ryan had just proven Zig’s point. “That’s exactly why it is rational and not racist for white people to fear living here in the long run,” said Zig.

Good radio.

I’m streaming that call on my Vox audio stash. Click here to hear it.

27 comments:

Dan Coyle said...

My only knowledge of Ziegler comes from the Atlantic cover story where he fantasized about murdering OJ Simpson on the golf course. What a fun guy!

(cough)

Undercover Black Man said...

I'm not saying he doesn't have problems... ;^)

But he puts on a good show. And he gives voice to something real.

Dan Coyle said...

Oh yeah, I have to admit, after reading that story, I almost wanted to listen to his show.

SJ said...

Where will white people run to when Hispanics take over the whole of America by 2100? To Canada?

I don't really get the right-wingers...they resisted the blacks, the Irish, the Jews, the Hispanics, the Asians, the Muslims/Arabs, the gays....they should just realize that eventually they will lose no matter what.

"Reality has a liberal bias."
-Stephen Colbert.

Rottin' in Denmark said...

Can we give them the midwest, too?

Undercover Black Man said...

What's not to get, SJ? Some whites have been stressing over their global minority status for nearly a century. (See Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard.)

If they were serious about doing something about it, they'd urge white couples to have, like, seven or eight kids. That's the only way you're gonna fight the tide...

Big question is... how will America change culturally as the white majority shrinks? I want to get into some frank discussion of this at some point...

dez said...

Some of my best friends are whiteys. :-D

Undercover Black Man said...

Don't get too attached to 'em. They may break East at any moment...

SJ said...

Big question is... how will America change culturally as the white majority shrinks?

Imo, not much to be honest...most people who grow up here follow the pattern of what white America dictates. As long as you fit in with white America everything is fine.

But I think that there will definitely be a certain..."lowering of standards" I guess because it is the lower-class Hispanics who have a higher birth-rate and bring mostly labor skills. Now if there was a big influx of Asian immigrants the story would be different, considering how on average we are better-educated.

In any case I think there won't be that much of a difference since anyone born here generally integrates well into the larger society and in a generation or two they forget their older customs/culture rather quickly.

VictorK said...

David: you pose an important question, since America's fate in the next 50-100 years will have implications for the entire planet.

If we face up to some hard realities, then it seems to me obvious that the quality of US society will become worse as whites move towards minority status.

Too many liberals think of America as an abstraction, the first 'proposition nation' according to those inveterate lunatics, the neocons. The truth is that America is the product of a particular history as lived by a particular people. Throughout its history that people have been, not exclusively, but overwhelmingly, white (esp. northern European), and Christian (esp. Protestant). Whatever is good and bad about America and Americans (and there is far, far more good than bad) is directly related to these facts and the culture, customs, values, standards and social habits that derive from them.

The current demographic transformation of the US can only mean the dilution and eventual collapse of the traditions and practices that we regard as characteristically American, and their replacement by the standards that we associate with the less successful civilisations of Latin America and Mexico in particular. A case in point would be to compare America's attempt to achieve racial justice over the past 40 years with what obtains in Central and South America (i.e. close to nothing).

This seems to me, taken as a whole, pretty obviously to be a change for the worse. While many America-haters will regard the progressive eclipse of the white majority as grounds for celebration, I can't imagine why. A balkanised, Hispanicised America will be a political and social nightmare and will only facilitate the rise to global dominance of China, a country whose rulers are as inhumane as they come (while Americans protest genocide in the Sudan, Chinese turn a blind eye to mass murder while profiting from that country's oil: who'd you prefer as the world's superpower?).

I think that a predominantly white America is good for all minorities in the US, however averse some of those minorities may be to admit it.

SJ said...

The current demographic transformation of the US can only mean the dilution and eventual collapse of the traditions and practices that we regard as characteristically American

Honest question: What are some of the American "traditions and practices"? I probably haven't realized them yet since I have been living here for ~3 years, but I don't see any traditions the way you see them in other cultures. People here have no idea about their European heritage (whether Italian/Irish/whatever).

To me it seems like the American culture is best represented by the cheeseburger, the different forms of music (which don't really mesh with conservatives) and earning money, though I don't know if that's a bad thing. Also, there is a significant difference between the baby boomers and the younger generation.

kevjohn said...

What are some of the American "traditions and practices"? I probably haven't realized them yet since I have been living here for ~3 years, but I don't see any traditions the way you see them in other cultures.

Hey sj, don't worry too much about recognizing our Great Culture and Traditions. I've been living here for 35 years (that'd be all my life) and I haven't seen them either. heh

Random InterGhost said...

[Big question is... how will America change culturally as the white majority shrinks? I want to get into some frank discussion of this at some point...]

We will enter a new age of magic and childlike wonderment in which vibrantly, diversely multicultural People of Color lead us benighted (and mean, boring) People of Pallor into the new utopia. All will skip hand-in-hand through the fields and meadows together in brotherhood and friendship. Diversity will triumph and, for the first time in human history, all different groups will live side-by-side in glassy-eyed harmony, caring and sharing and embracing each other's diversity.

Roberto Rivera said...

As David Neiwert, whose blog "Orcinus" is devoted to covering hate groups and other extremists, has pointed out, if you Google "reconquista" nearly all the references will be to right-wing groups. You really have to go under the rock and around the bend to find a Latino group that advocates such a thing and then you have a teensy-weensy minor detail: Mexico doesn't think about it at all.

If people like Ziegler can make the occasional brown lunatic talking about "reconquista" representative of Latinos feelings about America, then I can do the same thing, based on even more evidence, and make the nutjobs in Idaho typical "white Americans."

A case in point would be to compare America's attempt to achieve racial justice over the past 40 years with what obtains in Central and South America (i.e. close to nothing).

So, am I to understand that as America becomes "less white," we will reverse the gains of the Civil Rights movement? The relative handful of European-Americans will become oligarchs over the mestizo masses?

how will America change culturally as the white majority shrinks?

UBM, part of the problem is that you're viewing race and ethnicity in too static a fashion: nearly half of all Latinos and Asian-Americans marry someone outside their group. (Three of the five kids in my family did.) My son, on his mom's side, is eligible for membership in both the DAR (if he were a girl, that is) and the Sons of the Confederacy. His mom's family came to America in 1697 and his dad's in 1950.

What is he? More to the point: which "culture" does he represent. His cousins are similarly situated.

Unless we're arguing that "American culture" is inexorably tied to skin hue, we're getting ahead of ourselves. And if we are, we're just plain stupid: some of the best and most distinctive things about "American culture" are the product of where whites and blacks interacted and fused, however fitfully.

I can tell you as a first-generation American that people like me wanted nothing to do with our parents' native culture and many of our parents didn't, either. Univision and Telemundo are for mami and abuelita: no self-respecting native born Latino would be caught dead watching "Sabado Gigante."

Sorry for going on like this but these kind of discussions often takes place in a perfect informational vacuum where the object of all that fear and loathing is an abstract and imaginary beaner instead of the flesh-and-blood kind. It's assumed that they will behave in a manner that is 180 degrees different from every immigrant group that came before them, even though things like exogamy rates and language adoption suggest the opposite.

VictorK said...

@ SJ - I think you have an overly traditional view of tradition, e.g. folk dancing, colourful costumes, quaint and amusing rituals to mark the new year, first cousin marriage, etc.

Traditions can be as 'traditional' as that, but they also include any established practice, not just those of the folksy, arts 'n' crafts variety. Superb institutions of higher education, excellent private schools, great cultural establishments such as museums, charitable foundations, galleries and orchestras, a flourishing civil society, a free press, individual liberty, a political heritage of limited and representative government, the rule of law, freedom of speech, security of property...these are all American traditions, and make for the distinctiveness and greatness of the country.

It is in fact most other countries of the world that lack deep rooted traditions of this kind, and the US which is particularly rich in them (which is why it is an advanced and sophisticated society, not a primitive and developing one). Demographic transformation, in the absence of full assimilation, will weaken, not strengthen many of these traditions.

@ Roberto Rivera: no, that's not how you are to understand what I wrote about the achievements of the civil rights movement. The contrast is between, on the one hand, a country whose values and political traditions made those achievements possible in the first place, and on the other the rest of Latin America where, given the presence of minorities, little is done to address issues of racial injustice because no political or moral tradition exists that could underpin such a movement. Take Brazil, with its European elite and African and part-African populace. For decades all it could show by way of addressing the glaring divide of dark folk largely living in favellas and fair ones in decent to luxurious housing was external propaganda claiming Brazil was a colour-blind racial paradise, and a black population who mainly denied being black at all. Or take Argentina, which I understand had a small black population in the Nineteenth century, but mysteriously doesn't have one at all today: there's something sinister and typically Latin American about that. America is different and its difference is, in most areas, preferable to the alternatives to be found in other countries. It represents a better and higher way of life (and I'm not just referring to its standard of living) than all but a handful of countries in the world, courtesy of its wealth of beneficent social and political traditions.

Roberto Rivera said...

Or take Argentina, which I understand had a small black population in the Nineteenth century, but mysteriously doesn't have one at all today: there's something sinister and typically Latin American about that.

I take your point and agree with much of it but this statement, forgive me for saying so, just shows how little most Americans know their own history. What is true about Argentina is just as, if not more, true of literally hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans towns and counties.

The racial cleansing that took place in communities throughout the US between 1890 and about 1930 is amply documented in books like "Sundown Towns" and "Buried Beneath the Bitter Waters." If anything, what you called "typically Latin American" is far more typically North American (by which I mean the US).

This is not to deny that the U.S. is a far better place to live and the cultural patrimony we inherited from the original immigrants (calling them "settlers" implies that the land was empty) was priceless. But, as per my earlier comment, so much of this debate postulates an idealized North American self-image and history against an imagined and dystopic portrait of Latin Americans.

SJ said...

quaint and amusing rituals to mark the new year

You mean like the falling of the ball in Times Square?

I understand what you are saying, but the thing is that people come to this country because of those reasons. I came here for the education (will be starting grad school in a month here), the civil liberties, the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, etc. The illegal immigrants come here because they want this for themselves and their children...they don't want to bring oppressive aspects of their culture to the America, they want to integrate here. But it's not the "liberals" or the illegal immigrants who are threatening these American "traditions", it's mostly the right-wing.

Perhaps you have already heard of the protesters at the Senate who interrupted a Hindu prayer...no doubt they were spurred on by associations like the American Family Association, who vehemently opposed this. I guess it's freedom of religion as long as it is Christianity or Judaism.

Also, with regards to your comment about the black population in Argentina, I wonder what happened to the native American population in this country...

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't care whether Mexifornia is part of Mexico, Aztlan, or America. It's going to suck, no matter what you call it.

c23

odocoileus said...

Although I can agree w/ some of victork's positions, I have to point out that the disappearance of blacks in Argentina isn't sinister at all.

Argentina has very few visible black people, but lots of people with small amounts of African DNA. Visibly black people there disappeared as a result of assimilation.

Not that Argentineans are keen on admitting this. They'd probably be happier to encourage the idea that they sent all the black folks to Brazil. No such thing happened.

Like the pharmacist's wife in an early post, a lot of Argentineans ran off with giant mulattoes.

dez said...

But I think that there will definitely be a certain..."lowering of standards" I guess because it is the lower-class Hispanics who have a higher birth-rate and bring mostly labor skills. Now if there was a big influx of Asian immigrants the story would be different, considering how on average we are better-educated.

There's been a big influx of Asians in many of the towns around where I live and in some cases, there has been a "lowering of standards," as you put it. I guess we got lucky and got all the below-average ones :-P

Seriously, though, what you said about Hispanics is really offensive, more offensive than that "Mexifornia" idiot, to me.

Undercover Black Man said...

Some might say the cross-ethnic bickering going on in this thread is proof that multiculturalism doesn't work... that omni-racial integration will only lead to conflict.

I look back a hundred years (it's always helpful to look back a hundred years, regardless of topic), and I see a time when polymorphous conflicts between the Irish, Jews, Italians, Slavs and established WASPSs were an open feature of American urban life.

That didn't mean the Irish, the Jews, etc., wouldn't be assimilated, did it?

But here's where the Left has a problem: On one hand, the pro-immigration Left says, "How dare you presume that Mexican immigrants can't assimilate?" On the other hand, the Left encourages the celebration of ethnic particularities (bilingual education)... and the pursuit of ethnic grievances (Black Panther Party, MEChA) which work against the assimilationist imperative.

dez said...

Some might say the cross-ethnic bickering going on in this thread is proof that multiculturalism doesn't work... that omni-racial integration will only lead to conflict.

Has Ozomatli taught us nothing?

I think it's dangerous for people on all sides of the argument to assume that an influx of pick-your-ethnicity will lead to a certain dire consequence. Not everyone who immigrates lives down to a stereotype.

SJ said...

@dez,

Sorry I didn't mean to offend anyone. What I meant was, Mexicans don't usually bring skills to this country which are generally openly accepted by the larger community. They usually have to work their way up from the lower-class...and no matter how you look at it this leads to less education and generally more crime in that neighborhood, though it is definitely overstated in my opinion...I live in an area which has a healthy dose of Blacks, Mexicans and Asians (mostly students) and I don't have any problems with it.

I wrote an essay last spring for a class I was taking (Spanish 101) detailing some of the issues facing the Hispanic community and after some research one of the conclusions was that education is definitely a big issue...a rather significant percentage of Hispanics don't even graduate high school, which is a direct correlation with them being part of lower-class communities (same goes for Blacks).

Of course, I don't mean that to say that Asians are "better" or anything. Your area may also have noticed a significant influx of lower-class Asians, and hence the increase in crime or other "lowering of standards" I assume you are alluding to.

I pose this question...what if tomorrow 20 million illegal immigrants (of Hispanic descent) suddenly entered America? Would America be better off? With time things will definitely get better (after all, people come here to work hard and hope that their children do well). Hispanics have an estimated spending power of ~$700 billion, exhibiting some phenomenal growth.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: (sorry for the long rant) It's more of a class issue rather than a race issue.

Thordaddy said...

The first thing that needs recognized when we talk about "reconquista," MECHa or la Raza is Mexico's unspoken imperialist foreign policy. This imperialist foreign policy dictates that vast swaths of the Mexican population be encouraged to head North to do the "jobs Americans won't do" and then beckoned to send back the loot.

Let no one be fooled that in the issue of mass immigration, both legal and illegal, a large swath of the American people are the real and only losers.

The Mexican imperialist foreign policy of sending their excess supply of unemployable labor due to an insular and xenophobic economy has many national and international benefits.

First, it helps quell domestic unrest caused by high employment due to a retrograde economy. If America really needs all these Mexican immigrant workers then how can Mexico afford to let all of them go North?

Second, an estimated 23 billion dollars gets sent back to Mexico and taken out of the America economy. This is a nice chunk of change for those Spanish descendants that run the show down there.

Third, militant Hispanic groups are undoubtedly encouraged, motivated and taught something very subtle in all this. Namely, we can take what we want from America and Americans.

There is no doubt that the Mexican government has a hand in propogating the idea that the American Southwest is up for grabs and their foreign policy is every bit in line with that thinking. This is the real argument behind the immigration debate.

One further note... Someone wondered what America would look like if it became more Mexican/Hispanic. I don't think there is any doubt that America will be a lot dirtier, aesthetically speaking.

Random InterGhost said...

Hmm, I find conspiracy theories relating to the Mexican government deeply unconvincing. It seems clear that the Mexican upper class is happy to see millions of campesinos depart, but the idea that this is all a carefully orchestrated plot to take back the Southwest seems utterly fanciful - these guys can barely hold together Mexico as it is (as ex-foreign minister Castaneda has said, the US shutting the border would lead to a social explosion in Mexico).

[I look back a hundred years (it's always helpful to look back a hundred years, regardless of topic), and I see a time when polymorphous conflicts between the Irish, Jews, Italians, Slavs and established WASPSs were an open feature of American urban life.

That didn't mean the Irish, the Jews, etc., wouldn't be assimilated, did it?]

Well, it's not like the different groups of European immigrants did not have different histories in America, no? Compare the Jewish and Italian contributions to American science, for instance.

When it comes to these issues, liberalism is trapped on the horns of the unresolvable tension between equality and diversity; i.e. arguments that Mexicans are vibrantly enriching America with their magical diversity while somehow being in no way different from previous groups (and shame on you for thinking so). If the Mexican is the same as everyone else, why is their difference so worth celebrating?

It seems to be the vogue for liberal types to say "well, people said mean things about the Irish and the Jews, so everything is going to be absolutely fine with the Mexicans!" It's a non-sequitur; the America of a hundred years ago was almost a different planet from the one of today. Anyways, many of the criticisms of immigrant groups in the past were warranted, if you go back and read actual history, and not the Hallmarkian horseshit that colors our public dialogue. The Irish really did commit a lot of crime and drink a lot, the Germans (my particular group) really were insular and resistant to assimilation (until they got hammered during WWI), etc and so on.

To be honest, the better guide to how Mexicans will do in the future is to look at how Mexicans and other Latinos already have done in America. I'm from New York City, and the Puerto Ricans have been around NYC for about 40-50 years now; amazingly enough, they haven't turned into Jews yet. Given that they are still on average quite poor and on a collective level under-achieving educationally, what actual grounds are there to assume that they will rise en masse into the American middle class?

I've seen the stats for second and third generation Mexican-Americans, and they are doing moderately better, but not much. Why am I supposed to have blind faith that everything will turn out wonderfully, and everyone will skip off into the sunset holding hands, when actual reality is showing that this is not the case?

dez said...

Comparing Mexicans and Puerto Ricans is an apples/oranges thing. Latinos are not all alike.

Random InterGhost said...

It makes more sense than comparing Mexicans to early 20th century Italian or Polish immigrants, which is standard liberal fare.