Back to Index

Minorities: La Raza

     My major concern is that the United States might break up. I have devoted my life to studying Latin America, and have a special interest in Mexico. These postings have frequently referred to Mexican political instability and the danger this represents for the United States, which might become directly involved because of the Mexican-American population, which is pushing for dual citizenship.
     Of special concern is the organization called La Raza (The Race) which is constantly complaining that Americans are racists! La Raza is collecting funds from U.S. foundations and other groups to finance education for Mexican Americans, which in itself is a worthy object. However, my understanding is that it is illegal to restrict financial aid to any specific "race." Any clarification of this would be helpful.

Ronald Hilton - 07/30/99

More on Minorities: La Raza

     Many WAISers share my concern about La Raza. John Wonder calls ii subversive. Diana Hull, an authority on population anf migration problems, writes:
     Please read three articles of mine on this subject in The Social Contract. The titles are "La Raza," "Rudolpho Acuna: A Chicano Warhorse Goes to Court," and Ethnonationalism, Aztlan and Official Spanish."
     Following the announcement that the 187 "case" had been settled between the ACLU and MALDEF on one side, and the Pacific Legal Foundation on the other, the TV program "Life and Times" on LA Public Television presented what was purported to be a balanced discussion of this event. After Ira Melman, spoke for FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), a Hispanic State legislator, Cil Cedillo, said glibly, "we were here first and now we're back." Even though the above two speakers had equal time on the program, the visual clips showed a nice looking illegal working hard on a beautiful lawn--not shots of the EME gang, or the school crowding or the blighted neighborhoods, or the 300,000 person exodus of established residents from California, or the 25% percent of the California prison population that is comprised of illegal aliens. Sometimes there is a spoken message and sometimes it is implied, that without Mexican immigrants, we would not have our vegetables picked, our children cared for, our lawns cut and so on. Yet thousands of American communities have managed to get all these jobs done without mass immigration. TV and other media want us to believe that legal and illegal immigration is unstoppable, so resisting it is futile besides being "mean-spiritied" and "racist." It is hard to understand why so many otherwise courageous people allow themselves to be silenced on this subject.
     With regard to Cedillo's remarks, I am believe there were about 40,000 Mexican nationals in Texas before it became independent. The best figure I have about Mexicans in California (who called themselves "Californio's") is that there were about 60,000 before our state became part of the union. If these figures are approximately accurate, the present "invasion" is not a "reconquista" after all, but a conquest.
     Are we really going to accept California doubling in size in the next 40 years?
     More Comments:
     I have been pretty adept at guessing the responses of WAISers to our postings. Here is Linda Nyquist's response to Diana Hull:
     California, as well as every other reasonably desirable place in the USA, is growing. Many of us have immigrant parents or grandparents. Are we now saying, "hey, folks. I'm here, batten down the hatches?" This is what it sounds like. Sure, there are some liabilities (fiscal) to a large, undocumented population, but the U.S. benefits from Mexico in many ways, the maquiladoras notwithstanding.
     I grew up on an apple ranch 60 miles north of San Francisco (Sebastopol/Occidental). In those days there were "Mexican Nationals" who enjoyed a legal status to bring in the crops. They were treated abominably. Chicken houses during the winter were converted to dormitories during the summer. We used Mexican labor on our ranch, as well; however, to the great credit of my father, a couple of seasons into this he, along with my mother, concluded that conditions constituted a terrible social evil, and that, by participating in them, we were somehow "evil" as well. He protested and tried to make things better (salary, etc.). We had already provided decent housing. My dad's trucks were set afire, and we were threatened in writing and by phone.
     He promptly got out of the apple business and leased our orchards. We continued to live in Sebastopol until the mid-60s, but not as active ranchers.
     Is there a moral to this story? Probably. But there is one point that is certain--without Mexican help, we could not have gotten the crops in. Don't tell us about how communities have help without using this source of labor. Maybe so, but I didn't work in our town. No Mexicans, no work crew. Pure and simple.
     Isn't there enough room for all of us?
     My comment: Other WAISers, including John Wonder, applauded Diana Hull's piece. I agree with Linda about the exploitation of Mexican farm workers, and at Stanford I persuaded the university to donate surplus mobile homes to a farm on university land where the migrant workers were badly housed.
     On the other hand, Linda's call is unrealistic in terms of human nature. If all were as reasonable as Linda, you and me, there would be no problem. However, the world is full of places--Yugoslavia, Cyprus, the Middle East, Northern Ireland, the Basque provinces--where people of different cultures simply refuse to get along. I am constantly and vainly asking ¨Why can't these people get along together?" They just won't.
     In the case of the Mexican Americans, there is the special complication of their attachment to a neighboring country which may be headed for a revolution.
     More Comments:
     As I expected, Linda Nyquist's posting has evinced some sharp retorts, including this one from Diana Hull:
     Of course foreign nationals are not only picking produce, but it is important to note that the labor costs in agriculture are a tiny portion of the price to consumers. Agricultural economist Philip Martin of UC Santa Cruz has documented this repeatedly. In California, the building trades , for example, are now dominated by Mexican labor. What is wrong with that? Well two things, one it depresses wages and two, it dampens labor- saving innovation. Remember that plantation owners claimed that the South could never produce cotton without slaves! Americans will do any job, no matter how onerous, for appropriate wages and benefits.
     High paying unionized slaughterhouse jobs in the midwest are an excellent example of an entire industry lost to foreign contract workers. Whole towns in Iowa used to be supported by high paid union workers who had health insurance and retirement benefits. This is hard, dirty and dangerous work that Americans used to do. The same problem exists in other formerly high paid, yet difficult occupations like the chicken processing industry, and in clothing and other types of manufacturing right here in California. There is too little discussion of the reason for the flat incomes of US skilled workers who have not seen a rise in their standard of living since 1970. Note that the price of clothes and the cost of building houses has not gone down as the result of "cheap labor."
     Also cheap labor is not cheap. The profit gleaned goes to a few and the cost of cheap labor is passed on to US taxpayers in the form of increased education, health, crime and welfare outlays. But the immigration apologists need to ask themselves the key question: Is there any number of immigrants that they would agree is too many? And while you ponder that, remember that of the 6 billion people in the world 4.7 billion live in countries poorer than Mexico and all these folks could improve their lives by moving to the United States. The message about how easy it is to stay, once you get in, is known today throughout the world and supports an army of immigration lawyers in the United States.
     I have not even gotten into the questions raised by Ronald Hilton about the conflicts that have already been caused by an indigestible cultural mix, evident now with much more serious effects still to come. Our real arrogance is in believing that somehow people who live in the United States are more generous and tolerant than all our contemporaries and forebearers. Do immigration enthusiasts really believe we are so superior to the Hutsu and the Tutsi? We will eventually, and I hope not violently, sucumb to very natural territorial feelings about the geographical place we consider our home.
     My comment: My wife's comes from Iowa, and I can confirm the statement about the impact of immigration there. In the past, Iowa has had the highest literacy rate in the country. That is changing. My sister-in-law is as a volunteer teaching English to the flood of immigrants from South-East Asia.
     We are not xenophobes. I judge all people on the basis of responsible citizenship. We have a couple from Tonga taking care of us. We pay them decently, and they are kind, devout people. That is not the case of Mexico. I do not witness a flood of Tongalese immigrants or fear the impact of a revolution in Tonga, which in any case is just over the international date line. Incidentally, that curious line has a curious history. Please remind me to send out a posting about it on December 31.
     Some WAISer should send this exchange to Pat Buchanan.

Ronald Hilton - 08/02/99