The obvious and intelligent course regarding immigration from the south is to stop further influx and assimilate those who are not going away and, being citizens, cannot be deported. Mr. Trump’s placing of troops along the border, if carried out, can quickly and practically accomplish the first of these, as his silly wall would not. This accomplished, the chief obstacle to assimilation, crucial to the well-being of the United States, will be something called the Alt-Right.
When I write about Latin America, response falls largely into two classes. First, those who are civil, interested, thoughtfully express various points of view or ask questions, all in a manner suggesting sanity. The second are those who say I am a race traitor and hate America, sometimes adding sexual insults directed at my wife, who is Mexican. These latter often identify themselves as being of the Alt-Right. The two groups are clearly different sorts of people.
If the Alt-Right wanted only to stop immigration, deport criminals, end affirmative action and so on, it would do no harm. Unfortunately it inveighs against all people of Latin-American descent, whose presence it regards as portending every kind of disaster known to man and perhaps some not yet discovered. Sites like Vdare.com and Breitbart News endlessly paint Latins as stupid, filthy, socially irresponsible, and unable to learn English. This does not bode will for the future of a country in which Latin and Anglo will have to live together.
In fact, the Alt-Right’s desired social catastrophes seem not to be materializing, which must be a cause for sorrow. For example California, with a very large Latin population, does not produce the required Anglo-Latin race riots, burning cities, or elections made interesting by racial vituperation. Brown and white appear to get along in disturbing peace. I guess you can’t have everything.
The problem with this apparently exhilarating hostility is there are in the US an absolute minimum of forty-five million legal Latins, mostly citizens, who show no signs of leaving and cannot be deported. Some policy more practical than fuming, hissing, and name-calling might be in order.
A characteristic of the Alt-Righters is a robust disregard for truth. Of course, this is equally true of their enemies on the Left, ideologues being identical psychological vessels into which may be poured any desired content. An ideology is just a systematic way of misunderstanding the world. Since the ideology is more important than correspondence with reality, truth is an ideal to be genuflected to while picking its pocket.
For example, I have read in Alt-Right sites like Vdare and Breitbart News for years that Mexicans in particular are filthy, throw trash everywhere, and leave their children in dirty diapers. They do not. Neither do Argentines, Peruvians, or Chileans, or any Latin-Americans I have seen. These stories are usually anonymous or vague enough to make verification difficult, at times clearly fraudulent, and those posting them seldom seem to have bothered with fact-checking. After all, it’s the spirit of the thing that counts.
Another common story is of Latin kids in American schools turning over desks, threatening teachers, and the like. These may be true–I have no way of checking individual schools, often not named–but they bear no resemblance to school children here in Mexico. Among other things I have followed my step-daughter Natalia from age eleven through various public schools urban and otherwise through high school and then through the Universidad Marista in Guadalajara. Nothing fits the Alt-Right’s description. I do know a Mexican woman who runs food-services at a school in LA. The kids, she says, are “no saints”–how many teenagers are?–but do not come close the the Alt-Right’s hopes.
The writers of this sort of thing could easily determine the truth of many their assertions by spending a few minutes with Google Images. Just put in Guadalajara or Chapala (where I live) or an agricultural town like Jocotepec or a mountain pueblo like Mazamitla and scroll in search of street scenes. (Here, Chapala plus neighboring Ajijic.) Look for the thick layer of garbage, dirty diapers, and used condoms. Similarly with the implications of stupidity. The CIA Factbook put literacy at ninety-five percent. A brief Google check for bookstores (“librerias”) would provide a list of thirty in Guadalajara, mostly very good. This does not absolutely prove anything, but might make one think.
In fairness to Breitbart, it may be that New York does not yet have internet service. Otherwise, one might ask why people vilifying Mexico and Mexicans have not done the easy research that would be done by an eighth-grader for a term paper. The two obvious explanations are lying, and gross intellectual incompetence. Since the owners of these sites are highly intelligent, out of respect I assume that they are lying.
It is interesting to see what the Alt-Right really is when its members are not disguising their sentiments. A while back I wrote a column suggesting that we should perhaps have a reasoned policy toward our permanent Latins, to include assimilation. Such columns invariably arouse fury. This one ran in the Unz Review, which allows commenting, and has drawn 447 comments to date when 80 is a more usual number. They represent the attitudes of the Alt-Rightists when they are protected by pseudonyms.
Note that the first comment seriously advocates killing the Latins. Not all the commenters are of this stripe, or belong to the Alt-Right, but…read a few and draw your own conclusions.
(The commenters express their own views only. The Unz Review, one of my favorite sites, is not of the Alt-Right. The owner, Ron Unz, lives in a heavily Mexican neighborhood of Silicon Valley and has repeatedly said that he finds them good people.)
Much of the vituperation of the Alt-Right against legal Latins seems the sullen hostility of gas-station louts who in some cases may have discovered clean shirts. There is an air of unreality in it, a truculence devoid of any practical program. They are positively unworldly regarding the illegals. Whatever the desirability of expelling these, practicality is lacking and the idea borders on lunacy from the far side. Do the enraged have any idea of the magnitude of the ejection of even twelve million people, or even eight hundred thousand Dreamers? Executing them would seem a difficult Congressional sell. America is not going to build a Pedroschwitz despite the panting political onanism of its advocates. Meanwhile, Congress appears wildly uninterested even in The Wall, which looks like theater to keep the Base voting as desired.
The chief reason why the Alt-Right’s dreams of extermination or mass deportation are pointless is that not enough people are in favor of either. Whether a thing is a good idea doesn’t matter if it isn’t going to happen. Perhaps it would be a good idea to build a chain of catfish houses on Mars. Perhaps it would not be a good idea. Since it isn’t going to happen, the wisdom doesn’t matter.
Breitbart seems at times to rely on the innumeracy of its readers, whom it presumably knows well. Breitbart News writes that “over 800,000” Dreamers have committed 2,139 crimes running from alien smuggling (probably their parents) and DUI to serious offenses. These criminals equal .267% of 800,000 or about a quarter of one percent of “more than 800,000” claimed by Breitbart. That is, one crime per about four hundred Dreamers. This is a crime wave?
Rather it suggests that Latins treated as legal and having jobs commit very little crime, hardly surprising to anyone with opposable thumbs. The Dreamers also speak English and pay taxes. They are not illegal, though ever-honest Breitbart describes them so, since the DACA program gave them legal status. Many entered the US as very small children, apparently establishing the curious doctrine that a two-year-old can commit a federal crime. So why is the Alt-Right so focused on them instead of illegals? Because it knows where to find them.
A measure of Breitbart’s contempt for its readers is that when one of twelve million illegals commits murder, the mother of the victim becomes an “Angel Mom.” Goebbels would gag.
Perhaps the nuttiest notion of the Alt-Right about Mexico is that it is somehow Indian. Indians in the Alt-Right mind, or approximation of one, apparently are squatty little brown creatures with sloping foreheads and loincloths, doubtless engaging in human sacrifice. Mexico is in fact chiefly European. It has a European language, a European religion, a European legal system (based on the Napoleonic code), and a government, well, OK, more American than European but certainly not Indian (elected president and legislature, courts, and intractable bureaucracy). Its music while distinctive is not at all Indian and is closest to Mediterranean. Its cathedrals would be instantly recognized by any Catholic. There is a small amount of religious syncretism: The Virgin of Guadeloupe is not mentioned in the Bible.
Again, the majority of Latins are not going to go away. Might it make sense to look at them as they are, at their many defects and many virtues, at what they are and are not, at their present and their potential, instead of growling in limbic hostility over what cannot be changed? guess not.