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La Reconquista - the politics of ethnic conflict

Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 10, 2013 at 03:57 PM

Many Mexican immigrants, legal or otherwise, see themselves as part of a process of retaking the United States that once was a part of Mexico. Recent Mexican law permits dual citizenship which tacitly supports this notion.

This objective is aptly described by Jose Ramos, anchorman since 1986 on Noticieros, a Miami news program on Univision cable network, also seen in Mexico and 13 other Latin-American countries.

This guy is the real deal, having the stature of Walter Cronkite, although not a U.S. citizen and one of the 10 most admired Latinos in the U.S. - a graduate of the University of Miami - my alma mater. Ramos accurately observes, "Latinos have achieved the feat of integration economically to the U.S. without losing their culture."

While all other immigrants have assimilated, he says, "The idea of a melting pot is a myth." He makes no bones about supporting La Reconquista, saying ... "the United States is undergoing a true demographic revolution. Some call it La Reconquista. The same territories that Mexico lost to the United States in 1848 - Arizona, Texas, California ... others ... such as Florida and Illinois - are experiencing a genuine cultural invasion ..."

"Reconquista" means the reconquest and refers to the centuries-long struggle by Spaniards to reclaim Spain from Moorish Muslims. But now it refers to the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. The irony is many of today's overseas Muslims believe that because of their fertility, Europe will also undergo a slow but steady demographic Islamic revolution.

And then there's "La Raza Unida," meaning literally, "The United Race," which, like so many radical movements, started in the '60s with activist Chicanos who believed they were victimized by a racist power structure that has oppressed Mexican-Americans since the Mexican-American War.

This is now a moribund third-party movement subsumed by the Democrats who tap into ethnic passion with identity politics. Yet it remains a strong social protest movement. Its founder, Jose Angel Gutierrez, University of Texas professor, supports open borders, amnesty; and in the late '60s said, "We have got to eliminate the gringo ... if worst comes to worst, we have got to kill him." On a lighter note, in 1999, he observed less stridently, "We have the critical mass ... We have the means now to take government and to lead."

Raza studies are not uncommon in southwest high schools in Democratic strongholds. Ever mindful of the Mexican vote, the Obama Administration appointed Cecilia Munoz, an open-borders advocate, who was a senior vice president for the National Council of La Raza to the executive office of the president; and nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a member of La Raza, to the Supreme Court. Cruz Bustamante, 45th Lt. Governor of California and Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles, were both Mechistas - under the Raza umbrella - an anti-American separatist group. Ethnic or racial politics can be a divisive and ugly strategy, yet it is the strategy of choice for the Democratic Party's Mexican electorate.

The significance of ethnicity in politics is in direct proportion to the size of your group. My immigrant father was Dutch. Does any politician court the Dutch-American vote? Yeah. Sure.

I am also a Swedish-Finn on my mother's side - another exciting ethnic group on every American politician's radar. That's why it is said that the Democratic Party has co-opted every large minority group. Republicans, moderates, and conservatives are everybody else who doesn't matter that's left over.

This is not an American phenomenon. Getting back to my father's ethnicity, there are separatist sentiments in Belgium - which always seems to be on the verge of collapse - between the Dutch-speaking Flemish majority and the French-speaking Walloons. (Belgium declared its independence from the Netherlands in 1830.) The probability is that Belgium will survive as a balkanized country. In spite of a large ethnic division, the hate level on either side doesn't match that of Mexican separatists.

In the U.S., politicians could care less about the Dutch; but in Belgium they are the majority in well-off Flanders in the north. To keep this in perspective: We've got more illegal Mexicans in the U.S. then there are people in all of Belgium and Greece.

On my Swedish-Finn side, it's a little different. Finland was a province of Sweden for 700 years. After the Finnish war, it was lost to Russia in 1808. Finland then seized upon a window of opportunity during World War I to declare its independence from Russia.

There is a linguistic minority today on the border between Finland and Sweden which is known as a separate ethnic group, but so small - only about 5 percent and diminishing through intermarriage - that there is no separatist movement.

Swedish was the language of the educated class and nobility; and they are, unlike Mexicans in the U.S., considered upper class. Finland sees itself as a pluralistic state like Switzerland - unlike the "assimilated" U.S. - with Swedish and Finnish given equal standing as languages. Remarkable; but like Switzerland, it works.

Of all the political strategies, promoting ethnic conflict or the politics of hate should be morally unacceptable. Unfortunately, it has been a consistent feature of every despot, communist, or socialist leader. Surely, in a first world Democratic republic like the U.S., there is a more constructive way to bring people together, rather than fanning the flames of hate for votes. Belgium, at worst, is confused politically because of their complicated history - not hateful. And the Swedes and the Finns have cut a deal and worked things out.

Where is our leadership? Democrats are divided on the immigration issue; but they own the Mexican vote, illegal and legal, so they'll keep demagoguing the ugly white American to win votes for the midterm election.

It's pitiful to hear our president condemn Arizona, a state with a porous border and 500,000 illegal Mexicans, and then inviting the president of Mexico to also criticize an American state before a joint session of Congress!

This has never happened in American history. What could be more divisive? After all, we are a republic. And then to add insult to injury, watching Democratic legislators give Mexican President Felipe Calderon a standing ovation, much like they did for President Obama when he attacked our Supreme Court, in spite of the fact that a solid majority of Americans support Arizona's attempt to secure its border with Mexico.

Much of the leadership in the Democratic administration hasn't even read the new Arizona immigration law which is only 10 pages long; yet their criticism of it will fill volumes, if it ever stops.

This brings to mind a quip by Will Rogers: "Congress is going to start tinkering with the Ten Commandments just as soon as they can find someone in Washington who has read them."


John Reiniers, a regular columnist for Hernando Today, lives in Spring Hill.

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