Opinion: Trump, Sanders and Clinton treat Mexican-Americans the same, at their own peril

Donald Trump hires Mexicans to cut grass at his Los Angeles golf course. He hires them to make beds in his Las Vegas hotel. He mocks them on May 5 when he has his picture taken eating an American “Taco Bowl” to “commemorate the Mexican Cinco de Mayo victory over the invading French Army in 1862. He calls all but “some” of them “criminals” and “rapists.” 

He says he “loves” Hispanics; he says they will vote for him in November.

Partisanship aside, one can basically say the same about Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Certainly they have hired a sprinkling of Mexican-Americans in their campaigns – which, by the way, Trump has not done – but because neither Sanders nor Clinton are entrepreneurial persons, they haven’t even hired any to mow the grass on golf courses.

Trump, Sanders and Clinton deal with the country’s second largest ethnic group, those of Mexican origin, in the same way; they come from an Anglo-Protestant world and the Mexicans do not.

Nobel Prize-winning Mexican writer, Octavio Paz, wrote in "The Labyrinth of Solitude" (1950), “Some people claim that the only differences between the North American and ourselves are economic – that is, they are rich, and we are poor, and while their legacy is Democracy, Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution, ours is the Counter-Reformation, Monopoly and Feudalism. But however influential the systems of production may be in the shaping of a culture, I refuse to believe that as soon as we have heavy industry and are free of all economic imperialism, the differences will vanish.”

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Paz wrote about Americans and Mexicans. He did not know the Mexican-American. Trump and his followers don’t know the difference between Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

For example, when Mexican-Americans show up at Trump rallies bearing Mexican flags or carrying signs in Spanish and sometimes attack police cars, the Trump people seethe with anger. Trump calls them “criminals.” 

On the other hand, Trump followers idolize the “Americans” who dressed as Indians, forcefully took British merchant ships in Boston Harbor and destroyed a fortune in privately-owned British tea. “No taxation without representation.”

They idolize the Americans that gathered at Lexington and Concord in violation of British laws to fire “the Shot Heard 'Round the World.” Freedom.

A Border Patrol agent in Arizona shoots in the back an unarmed Mexican crossing the border illegally, kills him, covers up the murder and drinks beer after his shift. When turned in by his partner he is charged, tried and acquitted because a jury believes he “feared for his life.” When the federal authorities charged the agent, he admitted to the killing to a second jury, and they cut him loose – not guilty because he “feared for his life.”

Both juries, neither one with a Mexican-American member, ignored the murder of a Mexican and chose to believe the badge-wearing, gun-toting Anglo border agent. They took a distinct Anglo-Protestant view of killing a lawbreaker.

The agent would eventually go to jail – not for the 5 kilos of cocaine he stole and shoved up his and his wife’s noses – but for the attempted murder of 30 men and women crossing the border illegally whom he shot at with his Border Patrol-issued M16 rifle. He had his defenders.

California and Arizona have bred a unique modern American “patriot” – the “Minutemen” – a decade ago while the Border Patrol agent was skidding free.

They come in all shapes and sizes, but they are mostly white, mostly with less-than-high-school educations. The founder is the opposite – in terms of education at least – a former Vietnam War fighting Marine, University of Rhode Island-educated Jim Gilchrist. The Southern California certified public accountant allied himself with a former prostitute, Shawna Forde, in Arizona.

When she and two of her Minutemen followers murdered a Mexican-American 9-year-old girl and her father while trying to rob the father of illegal drugs they thought he had (which he didn’t) Gilchrist defended her. Didn’t matter: For once an Arizona jury was not blinded by white skin, and it found Forde guilty.  She is on death row, and Gilchrist and his Minutemen have faded into a black hole of historical inconsequentiality.

They have been replaced by a candidate for president who has targeted the Mexican, and the Mexican in America. Unfortunately for that candidate and his followers that have rebirthed the anti-Catholic Know-Nothings of 165 years ago, the Mexican-American is no longer a meek farm worker.

He has become as American as those who filled Boston harbor with British tea and those that gathered at Lexington and Concord to fire “the Shot Heard 'Round the World.”

Some 70,000 of them demonstrated in 1994 in Los Angeles against an illegal racist Proposition 187 without violence. A million demonstrated across the country for immigration reform in 2006-2007 without violence. 

More than ten million will vote in November; they will bludgeon with ballots those who target them.

Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant. He was formerly with the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate. Contreras's books are available at Amazon.com

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