More Popular Than Ever

Latinos are still coming down off our post-election high. After all, the mainstream media anointed us a crucial voting block in President-elect Obama’s victory.

Well, the good news keeps flooding in. As evidence of our newfound clout, we can now say that we’re number one in a very important sociological category:

Hispanics are officially the top victims of hate crimes that are “motivated by ethnicity or national origin,” as the FBI puts it.

Thank you. We couldn’t have done it without you… well, not you, per se. But we couldn’t have done it without that small percentage of racial supremacists out there (which is most certainly not you, otherwise you would not be reading this).

Just how overwhelming is the Latino presence on the hate-crime index? According to the FBI, Hispanics made up almost two-thirds (61.6 percent) of victims in this category – so in your face, Asian Americans!

Now the first disclaimer to this enlightening statistic is that blacks are still number one in the racial category – remember, race and ethnicity are often two different things. Also, the statistics only cover through 2007, so it’s possible that some other ethnic group has surpassed us as objections of scorn in the last year.

But I doubt it.

Recently, we heard about a group of teenage boys in upstate New York who, according to police, wanted “to find Latinos and to assault them. They were actively seeking victims.” The guys succeeded, killing an Ecuadorian immigrant who made the mistake of walking down their side of the street. At a court hearing for the lynch mob, a prosecutor quoted the leader of the thugs as saying, “Let’s go find some Mexicans to fuck up.”

This apparently is a worthwhile goal in some parts of America.

One might ask why there is so much hatred of Hispanics. I don’t know… maybe it has something to do with the psychotic level of rage focused on Latino immigrants, most of which has a basis in xenophobic fears that have been jacked up by demagogues looking to score cheap political points.

Actually, I’m sure that’s all just a coincidence.

Regardless, I’m surprised that we’re still the favorites. In this post-9/11 world, I thought Middle Easterners were the primary objects of fear and loathing. But it wasn’t a very long ride at the top for the Abduls and Muhammads of America.

Irrational fears that every Muslim is a terrorist have been supplanted in these tough economic times. Now we’re back to the irrational fear that a Latino is going to steal your job.

It proves that in dark days, some Americans find comfort in returning to the classics.



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December 2008
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