The Anglo-Latino divide is one of the most contrived bum fights of modern times. There would naturally be a cultural divide between, for example, the United States and Mexico, but it wouldn’t be nearly as fractious as it is today without the very calculating agitprop of elected officials, business leaders, useful idiots in academia, and affluent cultural trendsetters. The United States has managed to be held together as a unified polity for all but half a decade or so of its history (the Civil War and a few months or years before and after), and the chasm that had emerged between North and South before the Revolutionary War was far more gaping and destructive than the minor rifts between Mexicans and Americans today. You know, a house divided, etc., except that in the latter case there are two separate houses. And as relations between poor and rich neighbors go, the clash between two moderately right-of-center, majority-Christian countries is nothing like the clash between wealthy, postmodern, post-Christian, left-of-center Europe and the poor, backwards, brutally misgoverned, right-of-center, majority-Muslim Arab world.
Relations between Anglo America and Latin America should go pretty damn well, and absent interference by malign elements in positions of power, they do. That said, just leaving the two peoples to coexist as neighbors and develop (probably cordial) people-to-people relations through commerce, intermarriage, or whatever would be a real buzzkill when there’s the alternative of stoking communal tensions for the socioeconomic profit of the elite and the haute bourgeoisie on both sides of the river that wets all backs.
This is why we have Latinos. The very concept of a pan-Latin identity for all Spanish speakers the world over, plus non-Spanish-speaking indigenous citizens of various former Spanish colonies, would have been thought ridiculous in any Spanish-administered sphere. Americans don’t even think of nonwhite Commonwealth countries as having a pan-Anglo identity, even though these are English-speaking countries governed by variants of the British Parliament and judges that adhere to close variants of the Common Law, Mugabe-style strongman takeovers notwithstanding, and despite their formal political ties to the UK and the Crown. Shit, most of their judges still wear those stupid wigs. The thing is, Whitey doesn’t want to think of these countries as having the linguistic, political, and cultural ties to Great Britain that they actually have because that would get in the way of (usually) tacit white supremacy. It’s extremely convenient, however, for Whitey to classify as Latinos (and, to clarify things for Kirk Siegler, as Hispanics) everyone from ADA Barba to the illiterate Michoacano blowing the leaves off your lawn. Allowing a few Spanish high whiteys through the cracks into this cryptoracial special status for the poor and swarthy is well worth the immense benefits of cultivating a festering wetback underclass within and adjacent to the United States.
What do Mariano Rajoy and Philip VI have in common with some Oaxacan strawberry picker? Not a hell of a lot. What do any of these guys have in common with Patrick Madrid? What would happen if Agent Lisbon hired Patrick Madrid? It was really, seriously wrong of me to ask, but I couldn’t help it. Madrid already lives in Sacramento County, so his joining the CBI makes more sense than having a twee Australian savant with a bottomless drawer of sweater vests investigate Monterey homicides out of a Sacramento office. Can agent Lisbon claim to be a Latina, or is she too Portuguese? The Vatican had to divide the New World and its emergent populations of chattel slaves between the Spanish and Portuguese crowns back in the day, so it’s hard to say. There are Argentine gauchos named Evans who are whiter than I am and who speak English about as well as I speak Arabic. Can they, too, be Latinos? Agent Cho is dark-skinned enough to be a Latino, but his accent is blindingly white, just like Patrick Madrid’s. What’s up with that? If he renames himself Quimbello Cho, can he claim affirmative action points? It worked for Alberto Fujimori, right? And how sad is it that I can name all these fictional Sacramentans from memory?
These questions inevitably emerge in any half-cocked, politically motivated ethnic classification scheme. Well, not all of them; I’ve been waiting for months for a barely plausible excuse to make that stupid quip about Agents Lisbon and Madrid, so there’s that. But no less absurd, ethnically condescending nonsense arises all the time thanks to the weirdness of the modern US ethnic and racial classification scheme and its arbitrary socioeconomic effects, for good and for ill. High yellow is passé, so Shaun King proves his black street cred by eating fried chicken with his brothers and sisters. Seriously, this is one of the hot scandals on Twitter.
African slaves were imported to the American colonies for the same reason that indigenous and mestizo Latin American peasants are imported today: to provide cheap labor for Massa. When the Community allied with Poor Whitey the first time, in Bacon’s Rebellion, Rich Whitey split the poories along racial lines, so viciously that we’re still dealing with the blowback over three centuries later. More recently, as the Community has gotten less and less amenable to workplace conditions resembling slavery (and quite reasonably so; Mrs. O’Hara never cared to be treated that way, either), Massa has started using a new cohort of dirt-poor economic migrants from the most dysfunctional parts of Latin America: rural Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala. Costa Rica and the wealthier parts of Mexico are too prosperous and well-governed to spew surplus menial labor forces into the United States. The cross-border economic gradient is dependent on truly abject poverty in the migrants’ countries of origin.
Here’s how absurd this mealymouthed equation of Latino identity with beleaguered poverty can get. The most impoverished country in the Caribbean, and one of the most prolific sources of menial farm labor in Florida, is Haiti. Haiti is a French- and French Creole-speaking country bordering a much wealthier, better governed Spanish-speaking country, the Dominican Republic, whose citizenry and government revile Haiti and Haitians for their poverty, dysfunction, and criminality. Haiti is a civic and environmental disaster, but Haitians don’t get affirmative action points from Yanqui for being Po’ Frenchies. For political reasons, they also don’t get the one-toe-on-dry-land asylum automatically granted to Cubans fleeing what are usually much less ruinous civic and socioeconomic conditions. In terms of civic responsibility, the Haitian government makes the Castro brothers look like Kevin Faulconer. Despite the stunningly nightmarish conditions they’d love an opportunity to flee, Haitians are widely regarded as somehow more privileged than various Latin Americans from much safer, better-governed countries. I’m sure this is because their old colonial masters were involved with Versailles and all the ornate artistic wankery of Paris je t’aime. Seriously. When Haitians emigrate to the United States, they’re merely black, not doubly black and Latino.
By the way, have you noticed yet that many of the countries I’ve discussed here have been either overt or tacit banana republic colonies of the United States or its clandestine services? Ever since Toussaint L’Ouverture, Haiti has been a popular country for Western governments to kick while it’s down. Mexican police gave the head-in-a-bag cartels the vacuum they needed to take power by disrupting much more peaceable established drug syndicates, largely at the behest of US officials, and then abjectly failing to establish state sovereignty over these regions where they had uprooted the closest thing to functioning civil society. (American officials are champs at this sort of dereliction of duty, too: witness Iraq.) The US military and clandestine services have a lengthy history of interfering in the domestic politics of Central American countries, having overthrown an elected Honduran president, kidnapped a Panamanian president, and, to Ronald Reagan’s eventual senile embarrassment, provided arms to the right-wing faction of a civil war in Nicaragua.
These countries are dysfunctional, and they might be still be dysfunctional if left to their own devices, but they have an 800-pound gorilla of a neighbor that won’t allow them to attend to their own affairs. Wow Much doctrinal Very monroe. The US government’s position towards Latin America and the Caribbean is that all of your base is belong to us, because Jimmy M. said so. Our government won’t give their governments a chance. Our police are afraid to arrest psychopathic Arab princes who commit aggravated battery on their maids within arm’s reach of American sheriff’s deputies while on US soil, but we’ll send the Marines to forcibly extradite Manuel Noriega by means of military invasion because the Attorney General is all butthurt about his side gig selling hard drugs to Whitey.
But look on the bright side: these horrifically fucked up parts of Latin America produce such hard workers. Yanqui don’t like to do the manual labor jobs no more, white boy. We need the Mexicans for this. Once other variables are controlled for (like crapified pay and work conditions), this is largely bullshit, but it’s fashionable bullshit. It’s a good way for self-abasing bougie whites to justify, or at least rationalize, their own laziness and poor employment prospects, and it’s a good way for right-leaning bougies with an unabashed love of tyrannical caste systems to justify their refusal to hire Americans.
Everyone involved in this arrangement as a customer is benefiting from the gross dysfunction, chaos, and misrule of the most ruined parts of Mexico and Central America. The destructive backwardness of these places benefits affluent Americans who would never do anything so backwards. The class hiring these people as day laborers and nannies doesn’t get pregnant at thirteen or tolerate gang rapes by hoodlums in its streets. Nor does it encourage, at least for its own families, the sort of wretched sexual ignorance and superstition encouraged by obscurantist elements of the Catholic Church. Ireland was stuck in a similar state of chaos and poverty, but with a heavier overlay of theocratic tyranny, until its citizens and government effectively rose up against the Church and banished it from temporal power. A similar quiet revolt against Catholic clerical busybodies is underway in Latin America, but in this case led by nondenominational evangelical Christians, not secularists.
The sexual and demographic aspects of the Anglo-Latino clash are disgusting when they aren’t simply hilarious. Hardline natalist elements want to replace the barren Anglos with fecund Latinos, as a sort of punishment for decadence, just as they want to replace the Anglo workforce (both white and black) with Latino immigrants. They want to panda-bear the shit out of Yanqui. Then there’s this trope on the alt-right that American spinsters want to maintain open immigration as a way of securing an ongoing supply of sexy Latino bachelors who might marry their aging asses. This trope is meant to be offensive and provocative, as its implication is that good white boys are being cuckolded by beaners. The thing is, this implied cuckoldry isn’t actually happening. It’s another fantasy on the part of picky spinsters. The spinsters may be boning up on their 100-level Spanish, but the joke is on them, not on the gringo betas they’re spurning in favor of illegals. Campesino ain’t interested. He’s just not that into you. These women probably think they’re getting Fabio-grade soccer players, never mind that two thirds of their dating pool might be workaday dorks. They should see some of the guys I worked with in the slave-driving gourd field in Woodburn. These fellows were definitely Latin, and they may have been lovers, but I can assure everyone that they were not Latin lovers.
Of course, these foreign peasants were always harbored primarily as a source of beta bucks, not alpha fucks. They’re here to work. If some gringo ends up boning the nanny, or some cougar ends up putting out for the gardener, these are just fringe benefits. The Mexicans are here to do the real, honest work so that Rattlife can run Escalade game on club skanks while his parents pay day laborers under the table, e-Verify be damned. A few cougars and dorky bachelors may think otherwise when they get drunk and try to run smooth Spanish moves on the staff of some all-night taqueria, but they’re bit players in this game.
Yes, Mr. Siegler, do tell us whether they should be called Latinos or Hispanics. Whitey would hate to use racist language to betray his racist deeds.