Thursday, May 11, 2023

Can a U.S. Born Mexican be a White Supremacist?

Excerpted from a longer version.   

By Daniel Cano                                                                              

War is a Racket

     As I read Gangsters of Capitalism, the story of two-time medal of honor winner Marine general, Smedley Butler, I thought about white supremacy and Latinos, like Afro-Cuban Proud Boy leader, Enrique Tarrio, who began appearing in the news regularly after the January 6th attack on the Capital. Nobody questioned his ethnicity or his alliance with a white supremacist group. Yes, I know. Some Proud Boys reject their militia as racist, but that’s just politics. Consider their ranks.

     When Nick Fuentes, a half-Mexican, white supremacist adherent railed against immigrants and dangerous liberals (historically a code word for Jews), no one questioned how a person with a name like Fuentes could be associated with white supremacy. Maybe because he was from Florida, and he looked Anglo, that confused people, especially the great “unwoke” many who know little to nothing about American ethnic history.

     In the old South, because of the “one drop rule,” Fuentes would have been straight-up Mexican, and we know what happened to Mexicans when Southern ex-slave owners began to populate the Southwest. The strange fruit hanging from trees turned from black to brown.

     Yet, when a second-generation immigrant, a Texas Mexican named Maricio Garcia, a self-described Neo-Nazi, white supremacist shoots up a mall in Allen, Texas, tragically killing nine people, the radical right denounces him. They proclaim a Latino can’t be a white supremacist; therefore, racism or white supremacy can’t be the cause of the shooting. They say Garcia has to be a gang member and his slaughter the result of out-of-control immigration and narco- trafficking.

     Come to think of it, when Donald Trump came down that elevator and announced to the world that Mexicans immigrants are rapists and drug dealers, he did more psychic damage to the U.S. than any of us will ever know. Many Americans heard, only, the word “Mexicans.” Ironically, Trump probably hires more Latinos to work his properties than any other ethnicity.

     The thing is – Tarrio, Fuentes, and other white supremacists, including many right-wing television personalities, created an atmosphere of racial hatred that led to the radicalization of Americans, men and women, who might not have given race a second thought. Often, violence follows such hateful rhetoric. Yet, the question that’s been consuming my thoughts: can American Latinos be white supremacists?

     Not according to Marjorie Taylor Green. She immediately commented, after the Allen shooting, “Only dumb white people would believe that a Mexican gang member is killing people for white supremacy.” Her boyfriend, Brian Green told Steve Bannon, “Garcia couldn’t be a white supremacist because he’s Latino, and his parents spoke Spanish.” Then there was Ann Coulter who said, the “Texas shooter Mauricio Garcia, a second-generation immigrant…and white supremacist. So, we could have been spared this horror if only someone had told the shooter, ‘Mauricio, you’re not white.’”

     Is that true? Mexicans can’t be white; therefore, they can’t be white supremacists? Ignorance or manipulation?

     First of all, white supremacy is a belief that the dominant "white" culture, and its people (whatever that means), are superior to people of any other race or ethnicity, its roots embedded deep in 18th century European racist narrative to justify slavery, where even poor, illiterate whites saw themselves superior to cultured, educated Africans, Chinese, and Indians. However, we now know, because of DNA, humans, biologically, are 99.9% the same. Race is fake news.

     Some historians hold that Emancipation and today’s “wokeness” is more threatening to poor whites than anybody else. Mainly because, historically, educated, cultured, wealthy whites treated poor whites nearly as badly as they treated blacks and other ethnic groups. During the period before America's revolutionary war, many English colonists didn’t want the "dirty Germanic race" muddying their towns or gene pools. We know what early America thought of Italians, Poles, Greeks, and Russians who arrived at Ellis Island.  At the time, they certainly weren’t considered white. They were considered "dumb, dirty immigrants," ripe for white supremacists to insult and exploit.

     So, I say, yes, for sure, Mexicans can be white supremacists and racists. Is it any secret that in Mexico and Latin America, light-skinned Mexicans and Latin Americans, just like cream, rise to the top. According to Gangsters of Capitalism, U.S. policy helped place them there -- puppets to keep the darker skin people in line. Still today, in Latin Americ, those with darker skin face discrimination in many forms, from education, housing, and employment, just like those in the U.S.

     Mexicans from the central and northern states of Jalisco, Zacatecas, parts of Michoacan, right down to the U.S. border, celebrate their light skin, and, often, see themselves superior to the Mexicans from the states south of Mexico City, states like Oaxaca, Chiapas, and the Yucatan, where mostly Maya and other indigenous groups face harsh discrimination that gives rise to movements like the Zapatistas. That racism is baked in, going back to 1519, the Conquest, and the caste system created by the Spanish.

     It’s the same in the Caribbean, where Afro-Latinos are often the target of white colonial supremacy. In fact, when the U.S. Marines, between 1895 and 1915, invaded and attacked nearly every major country in Latin America, killing the indigenous people came easy. In the book Gangsters of Capitalism, the writer, Jonathan Katz, points out how most of the U.S. military, and its leaders, back then, were Southerners and ex-confederate soldiers. Killing and terrorizing darker skin people had been bred into them since the beginning of slavery. In his letters, General Butler describes the savagery the U.S. Marines wrought on foreigners, from Cuba to the Philippians, and from China to Latin America. In Veracruz, he won his first Medal of Honor, he admits, for terrorizing and killing mostly innocent Mexican civilians.

     This began to bother General Butler, when heavily armed and better equipped U.S. Marines were not really fighting and slaughtering evenly matched armies. They were often killing, and executing, in the most heinous ways, meagerly armed rebels, or citizens protecting their homes from outside invaders.

     When he wrote his treatise, War is a Racket, Butler described how major American corporations not only encouraged U.S. intervention in foreign affairs but often funded it, confiscated land, and built business empires on the backs of the darker skin native people. The highest decorated Marine general, Butler’s profile sank after his admission to being nothing more than government sanctioned "gangster" who could teach Al Capone a lesson or two. Today, few Americans have even heard his name, no Pershing Squares for General Butler. Had he remained silent, his name would ring loudly along with other American war heroes.

     So, what about the U.S., can Latinos be white supremacists here? They can be racists, for sure, but white supremacy is a little trickier since Latinos don't dominate anything in the U.S., which means they are not "supreme," in any segment of society. However, if they could, what do they benefit from white supremacy? Will Latinos get promotions to executive positions over white Americans? Will they suddenly get large bank loans as easily as a white American? Will Latinos land better jobs if they’re competing with whites? Will they, even with stellar grades, get accepted into Harvard, Princeton, and Yale in the same numbers as white Americans? White supremacy for light-skinned Latinos, and even poor Whites, isn’t a panacea to equality.

     For American workers, it isn't about race but about wealth, inheritance, and legacy. Who will get into Harvard easier, the sons or daughters of wealthy Harvard alums who donate thousands of dollars each year to the university or poor White kids from Kentucky whose fathers work in the coal mines? Whose kids will get elected to congress and gain positions of power and influence?

     It seems that white supremacy is an ideology that divides people who have more in common than what separates them, and it plays right into the hands of their oppressors. This was evident in an Amazon strike in New York in 2022, when workers, of all colors, united to fight for the right to unionize, and won. Do white supremacists really believe the conservative right, or the neo-liberal left, has their back? What has either party done for them in the past fifty years, when both parties have been in power? The jobs are still leaving the country.

     Isn’t it time to unite to address the problems that hurt all people, here at home, rather than pretend if a particular color people control the government, they will solve the country’s systemic problems? That’s kind of what brought us to the place we are today, thinking the past, when Prohibition and gang wars, the Great Depression and two world wars killing millions, was better than the present, when it’s really the future that is in question, and dividing still leads to  conquering.

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