Thursday, November 12, 2015

Chicanonautica: The Brown Menace is Alive and Well . . .

Then he said that Trump was the second coming of Quetzalcoatl! He claimed that all the talk about building a security fence along the border and other kinds of anti-Hispanic paranoia were just his way of winning the Anglo vote. Being president of the US won't be good enough for him – his long-range plans include reviving the Aztec Empire and becoming Emperor of the entire continent of North America.

The above is slightly altered excerpt from a story I wrote back in the 1990s. I just changed a name and it became up-to-date. Of course, “Burrito Meltdown” wasn't published until 2002, and in a British anthology because no American market would touch it.

Maybe Saturday Night Live could use it. The dirtiest trick we could do would be to say that Trump was one of us. Besides, his fans believe all that far-out fiction about Obama.

In some ways, times change fast. Old satire tends to become dated and has to be explained to the younger generation, except when it comes to racism. Stories, cartoons, and gags that I thought would be old and incomprehensible work just as well today as they did decades ago. The more things change the more they stay the same. It's déjà vu all over again.

What ever happened to progress?

It follows a trend I've noticed in American presidential elections over the decades. When they get started, the Republicans dust off the Brown Menace – y'known illegal aliens, that savage horde sneaking across the border to rape, pillage, and sell drugs. Then there are rumors of cannibalism and human sacrifice, severed heads being found in the desert, and to quote another “Burrito Meltdown” character:

I'm not prejudiced, but if it were up to me, it would be illegal to speak anything but English in public.

Okay, I stole that line. It was blurted by a young woman I used to work with, but we still see those sentiments being expressed. Maybe she's gone into politics.

Brown Menace fever burns bright during the early days of the campaign. Why not? It's a handy package of clichés that elects hacks in Arizona all the time.

Usually, as we get closer to Election Day, a need to reach out to Latino voters arises. All the nasty hate-speech is forgotten, surviving candidates don sombreros, and protected by the secret service, they visit their local barrios to demonstrate how they don't know how to eat tacos and tamales – sometimes they even try to speak Spanish – while mariachis play in the background. It's usually funnier than Saturday Night Live.

Though this time, I must admit it's looking different. What's with the socialist? And Cruz? Rubio? Are the people who thought they had bought and paid for the country really getting nervous? That could get interesting and scary.

Meanwhile, I'll dust off some old stories, cartoons, and gags, like this “Burrito Meltdown” paragraph:

Brown-skinned nanorevolutionaries holding surgical lasers in their teeth crawled up American DNA strands, then started slashing like mad, scrambling genetic information and letting loose millions of free radicals, which soon developed cancerous tumors, until there was nothing left but huge blobs of undifferentiated tissue that quivered mindlessly to a frantic Latin beat.

From Elizabeth Hand's review of Stories for Chip in Fantasy & Science Fiction: 'Ernest Hogan's reprint, the mindbending psychedelic fantasia "Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song," explores the Delanyesque theme of artist and muse in a tale that itself could be classified as a psychotropic drug.' 


Frank S Lechuga said...

You're a prophet in your own land, Ernest...true, but this time around I don't think the anti-Mexican rhetoric will let up. We'll see.


The pattern seems to be broken this time. All bets are off. Like I said, it's scary.