The Clare Spark Blog

June 21, 2012

The “Hispanic vote”

On June 15, 2012, the President presented his “Dream Act Lite” (as some journalists dubbed it):”To qualify for prosecutorial discretion pursuant to the new policy, illegal immigrants must have entered before the age of 16, resided in the United States at least five years, are now attending or graduated from high school or served honorably in the military, are now 30 or under, and have never been convicted of a serious crime. Having received prosecutorial discretion, they can apply for work authorization.” [Jan Ting: http://www.dailyworld.com/article/20120620/ENTERTAINMENT/206200307.]

As covered virtually everywhere, this ostensibly “right thing to do” was seen as either pandering to “the Hispanic vote” or as too little too late to satisfy the same constituency, one that wants complete amnesty, and in many cases American jobs. See https://clarespark.com/2012/02/09/glee-goes-la-raza/.

This blog is about the lingering ambiguity attached to the term “Hispanic.” Put briefly, this blood and soil term not only ignores class and gender divisions within the “Hispanic” population, even as racist rhetoric, the term “Hispanic” fails to distinguish between (pure blooded) Spaniards (themselves “pure” only in the imagination of those unschooled in the migrations of peoples), Spaniards who have intermarried with other European persons, and the much despised “mestizo”—a mixture of Spanish and indigenous Central or South American natives, with the latter’s history of slavery and continued poverty. For that reason, ersatz “leftists” have insisted that “Hispanic” be retained for those who conquered parts of the Western hemisphere in the late 15 century onward, while describing their prey as “Latinos.”

First, the Hispanics. Some of the most glamorous and “hot” movie stars in earlier Hollywood were seen as nobly Spanish. For instance, Ramon Navarro, whose ancestry was mixed Spanish and Aztec [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramon_Novarro]. Or Rita Hayworth, whose father was Spanish, but whose mother was of Irish descent [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_Hayworth].

Ramon Navarro

Ernest Hemingway, even before his conversion to Catholicism, found young matadors to be ideal males who could fight ferocious bulls and face death with equanimity. Later EH found the earthy Spanish peasants irresistible, unless they were anarchists, enemies to the Soviet Communists who were fighting Franco. And EH’s later approval of Fidel Castro was well known.

The President, however, was surely not appealing to anti-Castro Cubans, refugees from Communist Cuba, but to the imagined community of Latinos, who presumably want more from the government, whether it be amnesty (i.e., escape from underdevelopment and other troubles in Mexico and Central America), the renewed control of California and the Southwest (La Raza), or a larger Catholic electorate.

Who among the punditry is asking 1. Are persons of Spanish or mixed descent uniform in their class interests? 2. Are the legal “Latinos” in California sometimes exploiting the cheaper labor of illegals? Are we all living off the labor of exploited workers, of whatever “ethnicity” or “race”? 3. What about displaced black domestics and construction workers? Are the rival black and brown gangs in Los Angeles and elsewhere fighting only over drug turf? 4. Does anyone care whether or not the multicultural curriculum is perpetuating the discredited notion of “race” or “racial character.”  In a society where “races” are mixing at an increasing rate, why are outdated bureaucratic labels still seen as relevant? [For a related article tracing the origins of the racialist discourse see https://clarespark.com/2010/04/08/racism-modernity-modernism/.]

Image (308)

February 9, 2012

“Glee” goes La Raza or “Duende”

 

Ricky Martin

(For  related blogs see https://clarespark.com/2012/06/21/the-hispanic-vote/and https://clarespark.com/2009/07/04/unfinished-revolutions-and-contested-notions-of-identity/.)

On February 7, 2012, the hit show Glee buttressed the cultural nationalist view of those Latino irredentists who want to take back the Southwest, overwhelm Anglo-American culture, and generally advance what could be described as “brown supremacy” as opposed to competing ideologies in America. Somehow the episode titled “The Spanish Teacher” with guest star Ricky Martin slipped into some heavy propaganda without being noticed by the Wikipedia detailed account of the episode. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spanish_Teacher.) This blog fills in what the Wiki summary glaringly omitted.

The hunky pop star Ricky Martin (whose guerro appearance bears no resemblance to, say the mestizo construction workers in my neighborhood) predicts that in a few decades, Spanish will be the dominant language in America. [Add to the language factor, the conception of “duende” that Lorca defined as essential to Spanish culture: “According to Christopher Maurer, editor of “In Search of Duende”, at least four elements can be isolated in Lorca’s vision of duende: irrationality, earthiness, a heightened awareness of death, and a dash of the diabolical. The duende is a demonic earth spirit who helps the artist see the limitations of intelligence, reminding him that “ants could eat him or that a great arsenic lobster could fall suddenly on his head”; who brings the artist face-to-face with death, and who helps him create and communicate memorable, spine-chilling art. The duende is seen, in Lorca’s lecture, as an alternative to style, to mere virtuosity….” From Wikipedia definition of “duende.” The word is repeated many times during the first dance and song number as the quality that non-Hispanics lack. I have a new insight into Ernest Hemingway: thank you Wikipedia.]

Moreover, by the end of the episode, duende-deprived Will Schuester (played by Broadway star Matthew Morrison), formerly the school’s Spanish teacher, hands over his job to the Ricky Martin character (formerly a teacher in night school), for [gringo] Will not only is less competent to teach Spanish, he lacks “authenticity.” The glowering Latina student “Santana” upbraids the abashed and guilty Will for pretending to participate in the culture of a [race] for which he lacks [roots]. This sacrifice perfectly reflects what black nationalists demand for their group: only someone with “African American” blood can transmit their cultural heritage and relate an accurate history to students in high schools and colleges. Such is the legacy of multiculturalism, embraced by the Democratic Party, and though devastating to the conception of the melting pot (see https://clarespark.com/2011/06/16/the-antiquated-melting-pot/), does appeal to the most authoritarian, racialist, and backward tendencies in post-1960s social movements. [Added later: I had forgotten a detail: the Ricky Martin character states that his grandparents(?) were illegal immigrants! This would not be an issue for irredentists, for were not great gobs of the USA stolen from Mexico? Maybe not Ohio, the locale of “Glee,” but you get the point.]

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