Recently, Donald Trump insulted Mexico, Mexican people, and immigrants. He particularly railed against the “type” of Mexican crossing the border.
Not only are his accusations based on one article he now knows he misread (but refuses to admit it), they clearly show that his obvious lack of prudence disqualifies him from being a world-class leader.
Unfortunately, U.S. politicians and TV commentators, in both words and deeds, have long taken cheap shots toward Mexico and Mexican-descent people at will. The question is why? How did we get to this point?
My theory is that ever since 1848, abhorrent treatment of Mexico and Mexican people sprouts every so often from Texas to California, as it did in the early 1900s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. It continues to this day, as evidenced by conservative-backed hostile initiatives, such as redistricting, Voter ID, and racial profiling. (No doubt, present-day persecution is motivated by the growing Spanish-surnamed population in the U.S.)
On a more positive note, we the people of Mexican-descent must be encouraged to know that we have loyal allies who immediately took Trump to task for his discordant ranting. Fittingly so, Univisión, Macy’s, NBC, NASCAR, PGA, several companies, and individual celebrities quickly trounced Trump’s bombastic bullying. The fallout continues.
Before we go any further, Rio Grande Guardian readers take heart and take pride. First, being descended from Mexican immigrants is a blessing tested in the fire of adversity. Although initially shunned and systematically ostracized by Texas mainstream society for generations, the fact is that the vast majority of Mexican-descent immigrants are part of its fabric. We occupy respectable positions in both economic and social ladders in U.S. culture. We have jobs in education, law, science, medical, first responders, defense, industry, and public administration.
Make no mistake! In reaching heights of success, our group mirrors the accomplishments of others that have immigrated to the U.S. since its founding. In short, the proven record of Mexican-descent immigrants disproves Donald Trump ill-advised rhetoric. We must just learn to communicate it better.
Second, please understand that our primary adversary isn’t Donald Trump. Rather, our enemy is the negative perception itself. To help us begin to defend ourselves against verbal attacks, the following history facts thoroughly thump Mr. Trump’s allegations. Lamentably, they are rarely discussed in U.S. history books or classroom instruction.
1. In the 1930s, about one hundred years after taking over half of Mexico’s land, the U.S. added insult to injury by rounding up thousands of Mexican and Native American people and deporting them to Mexico. (Many were native-born U.S. citizens.) Such discrimination against Mexican-descent citizens (especially here in Texas) continued to be harshly unreal, unconcealed, and unrestrained.
Suddenly, all that changed on December 7, 1941, as the U.S. entered WWII. As it proudly sent its men to the war front, the U.S. realized that it was drastically short of civilian workers in the home front.
Abandoning its previous anti-Mexican policies, the U.S. asked Mexico to provide badly needed workers. At the urgent behest of U.S. leaders in 1942, noble Mexico came to the rescue, providing the necessary manpower to fill the vacancies left by U.S. citizens drafted into the military.
Mexico’s response was quick and admirable, sending a steady stream of ready, willing, and able workers. Included were many Mexican women who amply filled “Rosita the Riveter” roles in the war effort and U.S. industry. Most important, it would have been impossible for the U.S. to lay down railroad tracks in many parts of the country had it not been for the hard work of Mexican workers.
2. A few short years before, the U.S. had publicly humiliated, harassed, and hounded its Mexican-descent citizens (shipping them to Mexico per the Mexican Repatriation Act). Yet, like a good neighbor, Mexico was there; admirably responding with dignity, stretching its hand of alliance to lift the U.S. out of its worker-shortage dilemma.
3. Mexican-descent U.S. (and Mexican) citizens in the military undeniably left their high mark of excellence in the history of gallantry in battle. Giving testimonials on the proven record of Hispanics’ bravery were notable military heroes like General Douglas MacArthur, Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, and General George Patton. Sufficient to say that the selfless performance of Mexican-descent troops resulted in an extremely high number of medals being awarded, including several Medals of Honor.
In brief, the type of Mexicans that have crossed the border are not only highly motivated, work-ethic inspired, and altruistic but solid friends that the U.S. has heavily leaned on during its time of need. Oddly, the U.S. has never formally recognized Mexico’s vital help, especially during WW11.
Yes, the border area has many serious problems. However, they are not only Mexico’s fault. Some of the most serious problems (drugs and guns trafficking) are joint-custody issues that must be mutually resolved.
A reminder that personal involvement is crucial if we’re to change the wrong attitude many in the U.S. population have about us. Please join me in respectfully sharing our heritage with anyone, any place, and any time. (As already proven by our many non-Mexican-descent supporters, you don’t have to be of Mexican heritage to do so.)
Lastly, we must freely share our history with the rest of the U.S. general public in order to destroy the wrong perception. If we the people of Mexican-descent don’t do it ourselves, no one else is going to do it for us. Education is the key, for in the end, ignorance breeds intolerance, while knowledge feeds understanding.
Editor’s Note: In the main photo accompanying this guest column U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mexican President Manuel Ávila Camacho, are pictured in Monterrey, Mexico, in 1942. FDR visited the Mexican President to request workers to fill jobs in factories, plants, agriculture, and railroads as a result of the U.S. entering World War II.