I come not to praise Lou, but to ...
When I wrote about the presence of Spanish and Spanish-speakers in American history
, I had not intention of dogpiling on Lou Dobbs, but he deserves it. He has misinformed the public about Latinos/as and their part in American history, and there is some evidence that his ideas of immigration and border security are driven by racist attitudes
towards them. Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez really nailed him
(Lou Dobbs, Chief CNN DUMBASS)
Open letter to CNN and other mainstream US media outlets:
1. The vast majority of Hispanics/Latinos in the U.S. (75 percent of us) were born and raised here, including many of us who have roots here that predate the arrival of the pilgrims.
2. "Immigrant" is not synonymous with "Latino" and the media should stop pretending they mean the same thing.
3. The CNN analyst who said today "Keep in mind, Latino voters are LEGAL immigrants, not illegal immigrants" should be FIRED for sloppy thinking. MOST LATINOS ARE NOT IMMIGRANTS AT ALL, PINCHE CABRON.
to read more.
4. Immigrants to contemporary USA come from EVERYWHERE. There are, for instance, 100,000 Nigerians in Houston, and tens of thousands of ILLEGAL Irish in Boston and other parts of the nation. If this debate is truly about immigration, as opposed to racist portrayals of Latinos, please curb your coverage to be more responsible.
5. Just because someone waves a Mexican or Colombian flag at a peaceful demonstration does not mean the demonstration is a "riot" or the people unAmerican. Lou Dobbs should get his panties out of a knot and realize it is no different than someone waving an Irish flag in Southie or an Italian flag on Columbus Day. These flags are not waved as proof of national allegiance; they are waved in solidarity with a person's cultural heritage.
6. You can be a Mexican American and never have had an ancestor come over the US border; vast portions of the United States of today USED TO BE MEXICO or SPAIN. If you failed to learn this in high school, your teachers should be fired.
7. The vast majority of Hispanics/Latinos in the US speak English as a first language. The Pew Center for Hispanic research shows that by the third generation, all Latin American immigrant descendents - 100 percent of them - are English-first, English dominant. Zero percent speak Spanish as a first or primary language by the third generation.
8. The US has TWO international borders, not ONE. To date, not a single terrorist has gotten to the US through Mexico; to date, at least two suspected terrorists have arrived here through Canada. In fact, I would not be surprised if, while the media and xenophobes are focused on the Mexican border, terrorists figure out that it might be a good idea to walk over from Vancouver to Seattle for a latte. Oh, and all international anti-American terrorists who have come to the U.S. so far have been *smart* enough to come with passports and other documents supplied to them by the deep pockets of their organizations. Do you really think a terrorist from Saudi Arabia is going to think it's a good idea to swim over the border to Texas or Arizona with a bunch of Mexicans? How stupid is that?!?
9. Not all Hispanics/Latinos are Mexican or of Mexican origin in the U.S., and most people of Mexican extraction in the US were born in the UNITED STATES.
10. Please check for plans to give Haliburton the contract to build a wall along the Mexican border before caving in to the right-wing propaganda about a "crisis" in immigration from Mexico.
11. Please be careful when you discuss these issues not to stereotype or overgeneralize. The anti-Latino frenzy you're creating is leading to a racist backlash against tens of millions of native-born Americans who happen to have Spanish names.
12. The following are also Spanish names: California, Arizona, Florida, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, Las Vegas. Why does CNN allow states, cities and rivers with Spanish names to be American, while disallowing American people with Spanish names the same right...? Mister Dobbs, you may no longer say the names of most states in the United States, because only SEVEN U.S. states have English names; the rest are Spanish or Native American. English-only, sir. Make up new names, change your rhetoric, or stop talking about Los Angeles altogether.
13. Please tell us what the problems are that are caused by illegal immigrants. Don't just say there is a "debate". Tell us in concrete terms what the risks and dangers are being brought to the US by "illegal" immigrants. Now tell us how these problems, if any, differ from the problems caused by U.S. citizens of all other backgrounds. Be precise. Can't find any? Thought so.
14. Please remember that the least legal and least assimilable of American immigrants were...the English. And the only people who can claim to be true "Americans" are Native Americans.
15. Most Mexicans are Native Americans.
16. Shut up about this non-issue and get back to BEING JOURNALISTS, covering the REAL issues, like the illegal war in Iraq and the lies that got us there; the record-setting trade deficit; Bush's bankrupting of America; NSA's illegal wiretapping of American citizens; the fact that our public schools are MORE segregated than they were before Brown vs. the Board of Education; the fact that we as a nation have now slipped to having only the 27th freest press in the world; the Plame leak and the consequences of it being that Americans are much less safe than we were before Cheney and his friends played "revenge"; the disappearance of the American middle class and unions; the sorry state of the FAA; the rapid devaluation of the American dollar on the world market thanks to idiot leaders; the dismantling of the endangered species act by our administration; the rapid and unprecedented rise of a white underclass (the fastest rise in poor whites in American history has occurred under Bush); the enormous and growing gap between rich and poor in America.
Where's Tom Joad?
Amidst all the immigration reform/restriction/whatever you want to call it, I keep wondering: where is the American worker? One of the supposed victims of illegal immigration is completely invisible--physically--from the debate. And this is strange for a society that relies on visual media.
The easy solution is to point out that this matter is simply politicized. The jobs that illegal immigrants take are not jobs that American citizens want. Certainly, if Americans wanted the types of jobs that immigrants took, they would be physically present in the places where day laborers are hired. The preference of the illegal immigrant versus both citizen and resident would be obvious.
There are, however, no Tom Joads. During the Great Depression, the Okies* who packed up and moved out West also confronted migrant workers, both legal and illegal, and work became an arena of social and racial tension.
The invisibility of American workers (as workers
) will be a problem for future historians. Should they discount work as a real battleground? Or perhaps the citizen-worker has become a consumer of politics, and the immigrant, illegal or not, must produce his or her own politics. Any other ideas?
* I must always mention that, growing up in LA in the 70s and 80s, we still referred to the people who settled in the central valleys in a derogatory manner.
A Grand Day for a Coalition
State elections in Germany reinforced the Merkel's Grand Coalition: CDU won an absolute majority in Baden-Württemberg
, the SPD won an absolute majority in Rhineland-Palatinate
, and a CDU-SPD coalition will be necessary in Saxony-Anhalt
(especially to keep out with the post-Communist Left Party.) The good news is that the Neo-Nazi parties did quite poorly.
Multilingual by our own Choice
"So one day I said to myself: So I'm a Mexican—so what? What's wrong with that? Nothing, I discovered. I relearned Spanish, I went back to my old name and found out that I could still be a good American and have my Mexican cake, too . . . . Being bicultural can be an advantage in this complicated new world, you know?"Ruben Salazar, "Mexican-Americans have Culture Protected" (1963).
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo clearly shows why the Mexican-American minority is "unique" and why Mexican-Americans can not be thought of as "foreign." *
Mexicans, with the exception of the American Indians, are the only minority in the United States who were annexed by conquest. The rights of Mexicans, again with the exception of the Indians, are specifically safeguarded.
The fact that Mexicans lost the Mexican-American War—a war, incidentally, called "unjust" by generals from U.S. Grant to Atty. Gen. Robert F. Kennedy—does not change the fact that Mexicans are very much of the Southwest. They are no more foreigners to the Southwest than the cactus that grows there.
* Note: Salazar unfortunately omitted mention of Puerto Ricans and Hawai'ians as other annexed minorities.
All the stupidity concerning the anti-immigration legislation has really angered me. The rhetoric verges on the illogical, illegal, and ahistorical. Particularly with regard to language, I have flipped my lid. Not to mention that Spanish is an American language (by the diplomatic choices made by Americans and by treaty), multilingualism is not a weakness. I've already said quite a bit in my post over at Cliopatria
Attempting to frame immigration issues, CNN's Lou Dobbs pulled out a quote from Theodore Roosevelt on the unity of American identity and culture and the obligation of immigrants to assimilate.
In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.
The backdrop for thus quote was the tens of thousands who protested new immigration legislation in the streets of Phoenix.
This Dobbs moment was too cute: a quote from a beloved president on an issue of urgency. I wish that Dobbs had first reflected on the fallacy of what Roosevelt said before using it. This is the worst of 'bad history': choosing a quote that itself warped the reality of its time. Addressing immigrants, Roosevelt lumped together all those who came from a non-European, non-English speaking culture into the same category. Yet many Californios, Nuevo Mexicanos, and Tejanos were not immigrants. They had been in their territories for a long time, becoming Americans by annexation and purchase. Until late in the nineteenth century, these territories were better reached from northern Mexican states than eastern and mid-western American states. The experiences of Mexicans in America up to Roosevelt's presidency were exclusionary, not integrative. New Mexico, the most developed part of the Mexican Borderlands, languished as statehood was withheld--despite the eagerness of the Hispanos to prove their loyalty. Moreover, there is something ironic that Roosevelt, hero of the Spanish-American War, would take this attitude since his actions in war brought about the annexation of so much Spanish-speaking territory; the people whom he conquered would be denied membership in the nation.
Anti-immigrant discourse focuses on the introduction of foreign elements that will corrode American culture. Language is but one of these elements that, in their opinion, is in danger. Not that Americans own English ... even Britains no longer own a language that has been appropriated by many as a medium of globalized intercourse; the purity of English is elusive. But proponents of harsh immigration laws should realize the truth. Spanish has always been spoken here. It is not foreign; it was not imported covertly for subversive purposes. (Indeed, it was a language used to dominate Native Americans as much as English.) Moreover, the ability to speak Spanish was preserved in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (along with all cultural traits.) Calling people who speak Spanish immigrants won't make America a country that speaks only English.
Some thoughts on inequality in France: One in three Frenchmen describe themselves to be a little racist or more
, an increase from 24% the previous year. It shows the problems facing immigrants and people of non-European descent who wish to integrate. The large increase in one year reveals, however, a growing discourse around issues related to race, discrimination, and integration
, and also a growing debate about whether integration is only a question of the right policy, or if grander reform (political and cultural) is necessary. The debate is not dividing between left and right, rather within them: factions within both the conservative and socialist parties think that the institutions of the republic are contributing to the problem. Other questions being raised: can public order be dealt with separately from integration? is adequate attention being given to the failures of past policies and their results?
Another dimension: is it just a matter of race, or of milieu as well? The riots turned the banlieux into center stage of French social problems, creating the sense of strips of hopelessness and claustrophobia surrounding major cities. This type of spatial stratification may be the most important dimension of inequality in France. "Territorial inequality is no longer mostly an interregional problem; it is unfortunately a major urban and local problem."
Those are the results of fifty years
ofaménagement du territoire
(spatial planning, roughly translated) in France. Laurent Davezies and Pierre Veltz reported
on social and demographic patterns in contemporary France. Regional diversity has declined. Cities have "metropolanized" their surrounds (spread out to overtake neighboring communities.) Inequality is present more within regions than between them. Mobility has increased dramatically, particularly within the intra-urban setting. Most important, la multi-appartenance territoriale
(multiple-territorial belonging): because of increased mobility, individuals have fewer connections to the communities where they live or work. These multiple, overlapping memberships weaken urban democracy. Voting, based on place of domocile, has no impact on places of work or places of diversion. The price for high mobility (whether by choice or necessity) is a partial disenfranchisement.
A Place in the Republic
My conference paper is still an editing nightmare. Oh, it's getting written, but I think it has a 'mind of its own' rather than 'writes itself.' I'm trying hard to keep it under the time limit, but I resent losing the color that is present in the corresponding chapters. I'm might lop off a lot of "pre-history" (the other two papers are on Alsace pre-1918) and discussion about Reichsreform
(reform of the German territories and redrawing of boundaries.) I also need to fit in some discussion about the necessity of regional history as histoire croisée
. Anyway, here's the intro so far:An article written by Vermeil in 1926 may have confirmed the worst fears of the French government: the Rhenish separatists, expelled from Germany and finding exile in France, were attempting to make common cause with autonomists in Alsace. French propangandists (like Maurice Barrès) had depicted both as victims of Prussian hegemony. Now the separatists, to whom France gave support, became rabble rousers who would radicalize the autonomists, encouraging them to support a project for a trans-Rhenish, Catholic federation that would stand between France and Germany. The fears were exaggerated. Despite the irony that the former agents of French occupation in the Rhineland would ‘come home to roost,’ Alsatian autonomists (as well as the population) sympathized with, but did not join, their former co-nationals. The scare reflected the tendency to analyze problems in Alsace in the light of conditions in Rhineland, and vice-versa. Nonetheless, there was something uncanny about the similar political climates of these border regions. Both hosted movements that aggressively advocated autonomy either within or from the nation. In the broader sense, Rhinelanders and Alsatians found themselves in the same situation: the transition from empire to republic raised questions about the nature of regions–their independent existence, their relationship with the nation, and transnationalism. Although Alsatians and Rhinelanders were uncertain how the coming of the republic would affect them, it was also an opportunity to think of new possibilities: to balance the nation and its parts and allow diversity to flower. Rhenish regionalism and Alsatian regionalism appeared to be ascending at a time in which "minority" movements grasped at internationalism to balance their relationships with national governments. Despite common ideas and the simultaneity of regionalisms, the two movements experienced radically different fortunes. German governments came to see regionalism as a tool to strengthen Germany unity, in spite of its critique of national unity. The cultural politics of the provincial self-government encouraged a sophisticated understanding of the Rhineland's organic unity, its relationship with Western Europe, and its membership in the German nation. Consequently, separatism gave way to a subtler advocacy for territorial rights and regional interests. French government seemed always at war with regionalism in Alsace, no matter how moderate, temporary or practical it was. Exploration of regionalism was itself regarded as a foreign import. Moderate regionalism struggled to maintain a clear message while attacked by integrationists and radical autonomists. Ironically, Alsatian regionalism, stronger and more cohesive in 1914, became ineffective while Rhenish regionalism, almost non-existent before 1918, succeeded at pushing a for regional interests. In the Rhineland, regionalism shed the reputation of separatism. Contrarily, regionalism in Alsace was overshadowed by autonomism.
- It's the best of Coca-Colonization: watching foreigners playing (and perfecting) our game.
- Asian defense is amazing: the Korean infield was the best ballet I've seen.
- Some of these players might end up in the Bigs (ETA: or a raft in the Caribbean Sea.)
- Ichiro talked trash, but is on the verge of proving himself right about Japanese domination of the sport.
- So that I can start up a category of posts called "Not Cricket" (in honor of Sepoy.)
- You've been editing that chapter/thesis/conference paper for the last week, and you need to relax with a beer. (Although would Rum or Saki be appropriate?)
- Cuba is good, but they have their vulnerabilities (namely defense.)
- Big American stadiums frustrate Japanese sluggers.
- Games are fast-paced and the commercial breaks are short, unlike MLB games.
- You might see greatness: the future president/dictator of Cuba might hit a home run.
How Phony the Francophonie
Congolese poet Alain Mabanckou (who blogs on literature
) complains about the ghettoization Francophonic literature
and the artificial division between French and African publications. "... Francophonic literature is perceived only as a literature on the margins that twirls around French literature, its origin. ... These [African] authors are thus cloistered, balkanized, isolated, irremediably condemned to wear the veil of an ideology incompatable with the independence of creation."
Why Fenway Will Never be Replaced
by Drake Bennett tackles the public funding of stadiums and how politicians have become wise to its pitfalls.
... For a decade and a half, the belief that sports teams were economic drivers helped persuade cities and states to shower billions of dollars on major league sports teams, most of it to build state-of-the-art stadiums l.... ''Build the Stadium," went a 1997 slogan for a new San Francisco football stadium, ''Create the Jobs!"
to read more
But Menino isn't the only one to have had second thoughts in recent years about the wisdom of such largesse. Bitter public disputes have broken out in a few other sports cities over whether to give public funds to the local team ...
This new skepticism of public sports team funding is thanks in part to a small community of economists who have taken up and methodically rejected many of the claims made about the economic benefits of major league sports teams: that they create jobs or bring money to local businesses or otherwise spur economic growth. ''Generally speaking," says Andrew Zimbalist, a professor at Smith College and a leading sports economist, ''the independent research suggests that we can't anticipate any economic impact" from sports teams and stadiums ...
... a few people in a sports organization are handsomely compensated [by public spending]: the owners and players, who receive the bulk of a team's earnings. This tends to do the local economy little good, however. Many owners and players don't even live in their team's home city . and even when they do, they tend, like most wealthy people, to save or invest most of their earnings rather than spread them around to local businesses.
... of course, there's another, more familiar factor that can skew the models of economists and planners alike. Many people, [Mark] Rosentraub points out, just really like sports, and in a way that falls outside traditional measures of cost and benefit. Upon hearing the news last April that Washington, D.C., was, at long last, going to again have a baseball team, one Washington-area fan put it this way to a USA Today reporter, ''We don't know them yet, but we love them. We will cradle them to our breast." In deciding how much it's worth to have a sports team in town, as Rosentraub more drily puts it, ''Intangible benefits are a real value."
''Few people get real excited about a new plant (and they should)," he wrote in an e-mail, ''but we have to recognize [that] for several thousand years sports has occupied a unique place in virtually every society."
Aram, Gummer, Huang
Yesterday my wife and I took our season trip out to MASS MoCA
to see the new exhibits. Unfortunately, there was little that was new: the Leipzig School paintings were still up, and the staff was in the process of installing the Huang Yong Ping exhibit (which looked incredible.)
to see more pictures.
Persian artist Kamrooz Aram
Huang Yong Ping
John Quiggin has been beaten up pretty roundly for his post "The Traditionality of Modernity
." Such posts often incite vigorous debate about which practices could rightly be called traditional. In the past, I have been critical of scholars who feel the need to adjudicate the authenticity of any given traditions; I think that rather than creating more understanding about the dynamism of culture, they confer genuineness on certain traditions while denying it to others.
One large problem with the whole debate is that tradition and culture are being used synonymously. Sharon points out
that even though the nineteenth century may have been an era of the invention of traditions, the people of the era nonetheless felt a connection to the past based on their beliefs, customs and practices. Yes, they
But the problem of the nineteenth century was not that it invented traditions, either ex nihilo or on remnants of the past, but that it invented the category of tradition
: the culture that was the spontaneous expression of the people/nation (often rooted in or preserved by its peasantry) and that was endangered by the transformations set forth by modernity.
Perhaps to focus an inquiry, we should ask, "how did ethnologists invent tradition?
" Yes, the precursors of anthropology, who scoured the valleys and hills of Europe in search of continuity with the past. Describing and cataloging practices and material culture, ethnologists authenticated tradition. They identified practices that revealed the greatest purity (either being unchanged by modernity or that seemed to reflect a consensus of numerous practices.) Their criteria could be simple: because they could not identify an author, they assumed that the authorship of practices belonged to the people in general. From their work, standards evolved that were used to homogenize all cultural practices and preserve them. In this way, things like dress (Tracht), Passion Plays, and Carnival celebrations, which were initially quite diverse, converged towards one another. The fact that the ethnologists' quest was framed by modernity (in museums, exhibitions, national celebrations, consumer products, recreational travel) contributed to the notion that the practices that were being presented were the authentic culture of the nation.
There may have been slivers of continuity in invented traditions: one community's practices were adopted as the standard for all; or the practices of many communities were similar enough that a general ritual could be drawn up. Many could not offer the same sense of durability of practices without constructing it out of nothing. Regardless of whether or not the molecules of the pre-modern helped to make the modern, the category of tradition created false impressions what culture should be: collective; anonymous; popular rather than intellectual; resistant to change; enduring; patriotic.
(I recommend Regina Bendix's In Search of Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore Culture
, which discusses the ethnological project both in Germany and the United States.)
A Prefect Sorts His Files
Driving home from the market Wednesday. I heard over NPR that the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the government, claiming that the FBI spied on the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice "simply because it opposed the Iraq war
." Citing a memo obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU says that the investigation into the group was purely political in motivation.
Honestly, I wasn't concerned--not because I felt that concerns for security justified spying on domestic groups. Historical research has dulled me alarm that a country would make such detailed notes on the political activities of its citizens. Indeed, as I was driving, I wondered what parts of the US government
would note what went on an meetings and rallies in the manner of French and German policemen.
My notebooks from the archives are filled with the reports given to government administrators by policemen who attended political gatherings. More often than not, the meeting organizers were well aware that, by law, a policeman must attend in order to make notes (Polish organizations in Germany were even required to conduct their business in German even if their business was cultural.) Often the policemen noticed the rowdiness and drunkenness of the crowd more than the nuances of the ideas. This information was compiled by prefects and subprefects (along with pamphlets and newspaper clippings) into reports on the political sentiment of the territories. Nowadays, these are valuable sources for writing about social and political history.
The only thing that disappointed me about Team USA's early exit from the World Baseball Classic
is the lack of disappointment shown by American baseball players in general over the poor showing. It was a wasted opportunity to create created national excitement about the globalization of the sport.
Are We Over Race?
I am dismayed to learn, via Caleb
, of Annie Proulx's reaction to Brokeback Mountain'
s loss to Crash
as Best Picture of the Year at the Academy Awards (she wrote the story from which the former was made.) She seems to think that racism is a rather quaint subject (presumably in comparison to homosexuality among white cowboys.)
Caleb is right: confining social problems (or the discussion thereof) to the past is a dangerous game in which certain causes are elevated above others, or entirely dismissed.
And yet race (and ethnicity) has returned in such a big way. The sudden death of Milosevic has delayed reckoning with genocide and the global community's role in preventing it. At least seventy thousand people (probably many more) have died in Darfur. The ethnic troubles in France have shown that societies discrimination can persist in societies that claim racial toleration.
The current issue of Nouvelles Questions Feministes
shows the extent to which race has reasserted itself: the issue is dedicated to discussing the compatibility of anti-racism and anti-sexism. Christine Delphy discusses how feminist critiques were hijacked by policy makers to create discriminatory policies (related to the headscarf matter.)
I'll admit that I have no interest in seeing Brokeback Mountain
: the problems of Marlboro Men don't intrigue me, and I think that there are already great films that deal with, even normalize, homosexuality (where the Oscar for Hedwig and the Angry Inch
?.) Perhaps people should ask whether homosexuality made Academy voters uncomfortable. Dismissing racism, however, creates its own problems, especially when race and sexuality ought to be analyzed in terms of one another rather than in isolation.
Mad as a March Hare
It's rutting season, and Milli has been giving everyone longing looks. Too bad he won't survive the month without getting fixed--we can't take much more of his overexcitement.
Posting has been light for some simple reasons. First, I am sick of staring at my computer. Preparing for the baby has required a lot of extra time on the internet, comparing prices of products and examining safety records. It doesn't take long before I crave fresh air and human contact. Luckily my wife has a good humor about things: she even hums the theme to Alfred Hitchcock Presents
along with me.
Second, I am preparing a paper for the SFHS
next month. Of course, it deals with regionalism in Alsace and Rhineland as a strategy for integration into the republic. Comparing the two, I hope to show that Germany's tolerance of regional studies in Rhineland moderated regionalism, allowing it strengthen national sentiment, whereas French intolerance created mistrust that fragmented regionalism, creating weak moderate movements and strong radical autonomy. They'll be other stuff too, about the nature of regionalism in the 1920s and 30s. The good news: all the stuff is coming from what I have already written. The bad news: it's three chapters of material I must condense into a twenty minute talk. I can complain about giving myself too much work, but eventually I would have to give a talk of this scope anyone, so...
History Carnival 26
The new History Carnival
has arrived--still not as irreverent as real life carnivals, although just as enlightening as they are entertaining. Head Heeb compares the progress of two island societies
, Iceland and Newfoundland, upholding the former as a model for development (although I would think it would be more appropriate to compare Newfoundland with Cuba or Puerto Rico rather than Iceland.) The Roman Catholic aspect of the Japanese experience of WWII (and its commemoration) has grown in popularity: this post looks at one Catholic woman's interpretation of the fire-bombing of Tokyo
in 1945. One of my favorites: this unusual use of orality to determine the borders of farmlands in medieval Sweden
, as represented in provincial law codes.