Archive for the 'War' Category


A Grimace and a Quick Changing of the Subject

Let me thank Ashley and ColdSpaghetti for their comments on some of my recent posts.

Otherwise, it’s been kind of a glum week here at Hispanic Fanatic worldwide headquarters. Besides the stress of selling my house (see my earlier post), I was brought low when I foolishly read a newspaper.

I was checking out how the latest version of the war on terror is going when I noticed that we captured an American who fought with Al Qaeda. It isn’t too often that a real-life traitor is apprehended, so the story got my attention.

But I got queasy reading the article. Because just when I thought we had gotten over Jose Padilla, here comes Bryant Neal Vinas.

He is a Latino born in New York who, according to the L.A. Times, grew up in “working-class suburbs, where Elks Lodges mixed with taquerias.”

Perhaps that mixture didn’t work out so well, because Vinas has “admitted to meeting Al Qaeda chiefs and giving them information for a potential attack on New York” and has “fired rockets during a militant attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.” Vinas has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and to providing material support to a terrorist organization.

Now, as I’ve written before, Hispanics sometimes feel an irrational shame whenever a fellow Latino does something criminal, stupid, or vile. Reading about Vinas, I had to sigh and say, “Where’s John Walker Lindh when you need him?”

It’s not all bad news, however. A U.S. government official said that, when it comes to Al Qaeda, “Vinas’ background is clearly unusual. He stands out. A Latino American is an unusual profile.”

Well, at least it’s not common.

That’s something, isn’t it?


The Most Perverse kind of Pride

In a recent post, I talked about the insecurity that many Hispanics feel in relation to African Americans. As I’ve written before, we’re just not as cool.

Apparently, a few Latinos have taken this jealousy to a new low. According to this report, some Hispanic gang members in California “waged a racist campaign to eliminate the city’s black residents through attempted murders.” According to indictments, “Gang members take pride in their racism and… have expressed a desire to rid the city… of all African Americans and have engaged in a systematic effort to achieve that result by perpetrating crimes against African Americans.”

I’ve written before about the tenacity of Latino gangs. The usual factors of poverty, alienation from majority culture, and weak-willed groupthink help explain their popularity. If there is anything unique about Hispanic gangs – in contrast to black gangs – it is their appropriation of ethnicity as a motivating factor for lawlessness.

But I’m don’t know what to make of people who know claim the banner of ethnic pride, then proceed to reinforce every negative stereotype and fear-mongering accusation through sociopathic behavior. If I could excommunicate them from Hispanic culture, I would.

Now, I certainly don’t feel responsible for every idiotic move that a Latino makes. But this warrants a public display of disgust.

At the very least, I don’t want to fall into the trap that ensnared many Muslim Americans. A few years ago, they tried to object to their frequent demonization. But every point they made was effectively silenced with the rebuttal “You didn’t complain this much about Al-Qaeda. Denounce them if you’re so all-American.”

It should be obvious that every civilized person, regardless of race or creed, automatically rejects homicidal behavior. But just so everybody is clear: Let me be among the Hispanics who denounce these thugs.

And now we can return to our regularly scheduled rants.


Starting on a Upbeat Note

In honor of the new year – and the beginning of what so many people are convinced is a modern Era of Good Feelings – I’m going to unleash a positive story on you. It strays a bit from my focus on the Hispanic experience in America, but Mexicans are involved and it’s uplifting and everything, so I thought we could afford it.

Here’s the story.

It was the early days of World War II (for readers of the Millenial generation, that was the one with the Germans). A Mexican diplomat named Gilberto Bosques Saldívar was stationed in France.

In his position, Bosques Saldívar issued visas to refugees to help them escape persecution. He did more than this, however, and at great personal risk. He also provided the refugees with housing and chartered ships that would take them to Latin America.

Bosques Saldívar saved an estimated 40,000 Jews and other refugees from the concentration camps. There is some speculation that his efforts lead to the establishment of whole Jewish communities that endure to this day in parts of Latin America.

For his trouble, the Nazis arrested Bosques Saldívar and his family, holding them for about a year. The Mexican government won his release, and he returned to his country to continue a long diplomatic career.

His efforts earned him recognition as “the Mexican Schindler,” which sounds like the punchline to a joke about Hispanics and/or Jews but is actually quite the compliment. The guy lived to be 103 (!). But unfortunately, his work has only been recognized posthumously.

Recently, the Anti-Defamation League presented his heirs with an award on his behalf. The organization said Bosques Saldívar was “a shining example of human decency, moral courage and conviction, and his actions highlight the less well-known initiatives of Latin Americans who helped to save Jews during the Holocaust.”

It goes to show that, regardless of where you live and what your background is and what others may think of you, a Latino just may be your best bet for help.

Happy New Year.


John Wayne Was Not Latino

Today is Memorial Day, when we put flowers on the graves of dead soldiers, Marines, airmen, and Navy members, proclaiming them all to be a credit to America. This is true, for once, even of those who weren’t citizens.

As I’ve pointed out earlier, the first U.S. service member killed in the current Iraq debacle was an immigrant from Guatemala. And Hispanics have sacrificed by the thousands in U.S. wars.

Yet the contributions of Latinos to America’s military have been so overlooked that Ken Burns had to be culturally bitch-slapped to include a few minutes of extra footage of Latinos for his World War II documentary.

For this reason, “The Borinqueneers,” a PBS documentary, may be the only way for Hispanic members of the theoretical Greatest Generation to get their due. I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can’t vouch for its quality. But it’s about time that filmmakers acknowledge that those fresh-faced corporals weren’t all redheaded kids from the Nebraska cornfields. Some of them went by Ramirez and Hernandez and Sanchez – you know, American names.


Are They American Enough?

As pointed out here, the first U.S. service member killed in the Iraq War was an immigrant from Guatemala.

The Marine profiled in this news story is from my mother’s home country of El Salvador, and he is not a U.S. citizen.

There are more than 20,000 “green-card warriors” in the U.S. military, and many of them are getting shot at in the Middle East. They fight under the U.S. flag, even as millions of citizens back home debate the best way to kick them out of the country.

It may surprise some people that non-citizens are allowed to fight in the U.S. military. But we have always embraced immigrants when they are convenient – when they can mow the lawn or take care of the babies or step up to be cannon fodder. After they have served their purpose, we give long speeches about how the sanctity of the nation demands that they be banished, and quickly before they take over.

Now, should a non-citizen die in combat, he or she receives automatic (albeit posthumous) citizenship. This has happened several times during this war. Nobody has protested this policy, because of course, a deceased Mexican-American will never move in next door to citizens and make them nervous. It seems to be our country’s way of saying, “Some of you have to die before we’ll agree that you’re fit to live among us. Ironic, isn’t it?”

Personally, I think anybody willing to face death in the service of America should get immediate citizenship upon induction, no paperwork needed. I have other ideas about the citizenship process, but that will have to wait for a future post.

Also, at some point I will go into detail about my personal stake in this story: My cousin was on his second deployment to Iraq before his citizenship papers came through. Again, I’ll talk more about him and his adventures in a future post.

August 2020

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