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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca's response to Ruben Navarrette's "Why Are We Still Naming Things for Cesar Chavez?"

Nota: This is Dr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca's response to the earlier posted article by Ruben Navarrette, Jr., Why Are We Still Naming Things for Cesar Chavez? CNN Contributor, June 3, 2011, posted to this lista. Excellent response. - Roberto R. Calderon, Historia Chicana [Historia]

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Historia Chicana
15 June 2011

Naming Things for Cesar Chavez

By Felipe de Ortego y Gasca

13 June 201
1

We are still naming things for Cesar Chavez because this is still the same country it used to be. We may be 50.5 million strong as Latinos, but we are still being treating as interlopers. 32 million of the total Latino population are Mexican Americans, 9 million are Puerto Ricans (including Puerto Rico). That's 41 million Latinos whose history in the United States is historically different from the other 9.5 million Latinos (including the 1.9 million Cuban Americans). Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans are "territorial minorities"--the other Latinos are Americans by ingress.

In Spanish there’s an expression: “buscando moros con tranchetes,” loosely meaning “looking for Moors carrying spears” or “looking for shadows armed with spears.” In other words, “on guard for trouble because there’s always trouble everywhere.” This is the posture of the dominant American mainstream: Where there are Latinos there’s going to be trouble. So, let’s get them before they get us. In Brick, New Jersey, on October 20, 1010, Vincent Johnson sent a series of threatening emails to employees of five civil right organizations that challenge discrimination against Latinos in the United States and work to improve opportunities for them. At his sentencing, Johnson admitted that his threats were motivated by race and national origin, with language like: “I’m giving you fair warning, if you don’t desist in your help to Latinos you are dead meat.” And “there can be absolutely no argument against the fact that Mexicans are scum as all they know is how to [expletive] and kill.” Johnson was sentenced to 50 months in prison and 3 years supervised release, tantamount to a slap on the wrist, at best, despite Johnson’s acts being described by the U.S. Attorney General’s office as a “hate-fueled campaign of fear to intimidate and terrorize the victims.”

In Arizona, the hullabaloo over Senate Bill 1070 (immigration control) has spilled over into efforts to curtail instruction of Mexican American history and literature by eliminating the Mexican American Studies Program at the Tucson Unified School District on grounds that the program is subversive and teaches hatred of the United States. At a meeting of the school board at the Tucson Unified School District on May 4, 2011, the conference room walls were lined with Tucson police, armed and with riot gear, and a wall of police (5 deep) between the audience and the board members. Police were in the lobby and outside barricading the building. To get inside the conference room, entrants had to go through a full pat down and metal detectors. From the sky, helicopters patrolled the grounds of the building. In his report of the event, Rudy Acuña concluded that the police were not there to protect the Mexican American community but to arrest the Mexican American community. In fact, John Pedicone, Superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District ordered the arrest of Lupe Castillo, an elderly and disabled woman on two crutches, for reading a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. She was wrestled to the ground by police. In the heat of anti-Mexican sentiment in Arizona, Pedicone, Vice President of the Southern Arizona Leadership Conference, a right-wing organization, won the superintendence of the Tucson Unified School District with the help of the Southern Arizona Leadership Conference and Raytheon money.
According to Acuña, Pedicone considered the Mexican Americans attending the school board meeting as “a bunch of thugs that need a hundred cops with guns and riot gear because there is nothing more dangerous than educating Latinos to the current power structure, which includes the conservative and rich businessmen of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.” Moreover, Mark Stegeman, a University of Arizona Economics Professor and TUSD board president has proposed a resolution to strip Mexican-American History courses of their graduation credit because it does not fulfill an American history credit whereas a European History course does. Protesting Dr. Stegeman’s proposal in solidarity with the TUSD Mexican American high school students, a group of University of Arizona Mexican American students staged a walkout of Stegeman’s Economics lecture class at the U of A. Mexican American educators think that though wrong in defying federal law, Stegeman is stubborn in his opposition to Mexican American Studies at TUSD, characteristic that will bring him down. This stubborn characteristic is the hallmark of rightwing antagonism toward American Latinos especially Mexican Americans.

In Arizona we see the legacy of the Black Legend at its most virulent. Latino students fill nearly half the classroom seats in Arizona's public schools, but HB 2281 signed by Governor Jan Brewer makes it illegal for these students to learn about their Mexican American heritage in the schools. HB 2281 prohibits “schools from offering courses at any grade level that advocate ethnic solidarity, promote overthrow of the US government, or cater to specific ethnic groups.” Per the Acosta et. al. lawsuit, a Judge will rule this summer on the constitutionality of HB2281; the first issue the judge is asked to rule on is a challenge to the vagueness of the statue, specifically that it does not pass the standard required by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. HB 2281 was passed because of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne's personal distaste for the TUSC’s Chicano studies program, in which 3 percent of the district's 55,000 students participate. “He has been hell-bent on squashing the program ever since learning several years ago that Hispanic civil rights activist Dolores Huerta told Tucson High School students that Republicans hate Latinos" (Jessica Calefati, Mother Jones, May 12, 2010).

Given the vitriol against Latinos present in the public arena these days by Republicans, more and more signs are emerging that lend credence to the conclusion: “That Republicans hate Latinos.” In one recent town-hall meeting which Congressman Paul Ryan held in Wisconsin, he told his audience that “anchor babies cost money” which was likened by one Latin@ to saying that while children born to non-Latin@ U.S. citizens cost money it’s worse when they’re Latino children. Then, commenting on border security, Ryan asserted that the past philosophy of “catch and release” by the border patrol didn’t work, he was challenged by a woman in the audience asking him if he was talking about people or fish, a description she considered racist, to which Ryan responded that it was “free speech.” Sara Inés Calderón put that encounter into perspective by explaining that “when people with prejudice want to talk it’s called ‘free speech’ but when DREAMers want to [talk], they’re arrested or escorted out by police” (Twitter @SaraChicaD).
The Georgia legislature has just passed House Bill 87 which Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law and which David Zirin described as “shredding the Civil Rights of the state’s Latino population” (Newsletter of the William C. Velasquez Institute May 17, 2011). Latinos in Georgia are concerned that the law will raise the level of anti-Latino sentiment in the state. News Taco: the Latino Daily reports a rise in racially profiling Latinos in Georgia. Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), asserts that “there’s open discrimination all over the place” in Georgia, adding that “It’s an extremely hostile environment for . . . Latinos in Georgia” (News Taco.com 5-17-11). The battle cry for law enforcement officers in Georgia is: “Let’s go Hispanic hunting,” all of this driven principally by Republicans in Georgia.
In Arizona, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter (52nd District) and member of the House Armed Services Committee lashed out against the Navy’ initiative to name a U.S. cargo ship after Cesar Chavez (U.S. farmworker leader who was a World War II Navy veteran). Despite Cesar Chavez’ national standing, according to Hunter, Cesar Chavez is “unworthy as an American to have a U.S. ship named after him.” Gus Chavez, co-founder of the Latino Defend the Honor initiative and a Navy veteran, decries Duncan Hunter’s diatribe against Cesar Chavez, calling for all Latinos to defend the honor.
In equally lamentable fashion, Santana was booed at the Civil Rights baseball game in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday, May 15, when he took the microphone ostensibly to accept a civil rights honor, chastising instead Georgians for the anti-Latino bill signed into law by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Santana started by saying that he was representing all immigrants, continuing with “The people of Arizona and the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves.” Cheers turned to boos! Later, in impromptu comments in the Press Box, Santana continued: “Who’s going to change sheets and clean toilets? I invite all Latinos to do nothing for about two weeks so you can see who really, really is running the economy. Who cleans the sheets? Who cleans the toilets? Who babysits? I am here to give voice to the invisible” Dave Zirin, the sports commentator, described Santana’s courage as “one hell of an object lesson.” For U.S. Latinos the object lesson is that all Latinos must have the courage to speak up in the face of racism and discrimination.
We still want to name things after Cesar Chavez because racism and discrimination still abound in the United States. Onomastics (naming things) is in the nature of human beings; it's the process by which we make order out of chaos, the process that engenders pride and establishes presence and ownership in the world. Cesar Chavez is symbolic of that which Mexican Americans aspire to achieve--social justice for which more than a million Mexican Americans have fought in every American War since 1848. Ruben Navarrette is right: this flap over naming a street for Cesar Chavez is more than a dust-up about a street. It's about R-E-S-P-E-C-T as Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has put it so well.

Chicanos/Latinos are not afraid of the future; It's the white power-structure that's afraid of the browning of America. And still the anti-Hispanic beat goes on, notwithstanding the projection by the U.S. Census Bureau, as reported by John Garrido, that “by the year 2097 50% of the entire population of the United States will be Hispanic, 30% will be black, 13% will be Asian, and only 5% will be white” (Blue Dogs of the Democratic Party, September 5, 2007). One can only ask how historical memory will play out then?

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From: Dr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca, Ph. D. [felipeo@usawide.net]
Sent: Monday, June 13, 2011 10:05 AM
To: Calderon, Roberto; Dr. Felipe de Ortego y Gasca
Subject: Re: [Historia] Ruben Navarrette Jr. l Why Are We Still Naming Thingsfor Cesar Chavez? l CNN Opinion l 3 June 2011

We are still naming things for Cesar Chavez because this is still the same country it used to be. We may be 50.5 million strong as Latinos, but we are still being treating as interlopers. 32 million of the total Latino population are Mexican Americans, 9 million are Puerto Ricans (including Puerto Rico). That's 41 million Latinos whose history in the United States is historically different from the other 9.5 million Latinos (including the 1.9 million Cuban Americans). Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans are "territorial minorities"--the other Latinos are Americans by ingress.

In Spanish there’s an expression: “buscando moros con tranchetes,” loosely meaning “looking for Moors carrying spears” or “looking for shadows armed with spears.” In other words, “on guard for trouble because there’s always trouble everywhere.” This is the posture of the dominant American mainstream: Where there are Latinos there’s going to be trouble. So, let’s get them before they get us. In Brick, New Jersey, on October 20, 1010, Vincent Johnson sent a series of threatening emails to employees of five civil right organizations that challenge discrimination against Latinos in the United States and work to improve opportunities for them. At his sentencing, Johnson admitted that his threats were motivated by race and national origin, with language like: “I’m giving you fair warning, if you don’t desist in your help to Latinos you are dead meat.” And “there can be absolutely no argument against the fact that Mexicans are scum as all they know is how to [expletive] and kill.” Johnson was sentenced to 50 months in prison and 3 years supervised release, tantamount to a slap on the wrist, at best, despite Johnson’s acts being described by the U.S. Attorney General’s office as a “hate-fueled campaign of fear to intimidate and terrorize the victims.”

In Arizona, the hullabaloo over Senate Bill 1070 (immigration control) has spilled over into efforts to curtail instruction of Mexican American history and literature by eliminating the Mexican American Studies Program at the Tucson Unified School District on grounds that the program is subversive and teaches hatred of the United States. At a meeting of the school board at the Tucson Unified School District on May 4, 2011, the conference room walls were lined with Tucson police, armed and with riot gear, and a wall of police (5 deep) between the audience and the board members. Police were in the lobby and outside barricading the building. To get inside the conference room, entrants had to go through a full pat down and metal detectors. From the sky, helicopters patrolled the grounds of the building. In his report of the event, Rudy Acuña concluded that the police were not there to protect the Mexican American community but to arrest the Mexican American community. In fact, John Pedicone, Superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District ordered the arrest of Lupe Castillo, an elderly and disabled woman on two crutches, for reading a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. She was wrestled to the ground by police. In the heat of anti-Mexican sentiment in Arizona, Pedicone, Vice President of the Southern Arizona Leadership Conference, a right-wing organization, won the superintendence of the Tucson Unified School District with the help of the Southern Arizona Leadership Conference and Raytheon money.

According to Acuña, Pedicone considered the Mexican Americans attending the school board meeting as “a bunch of thugs that need a hundred cops with guns and riot gear because there is nothing more dangerous than educating Latinos to the current power structure, which includes the conservative and rich businessmen of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.” Moreover, Mark Stegeman, a University of Arizona Economics Professor and TUSD board president has proposed a resolution to strip Mexican-American History courses of their graduation credit because it does not fulfill an American history credit whereas a European History course does. Protesting Dr. Stegeman’s proposal in solidarity with the TUSD Mexican American high school students, a group of University of Arizona Mexican American students staged a walkout of Stegeman’s Economics lecture class at the U of A. Mexican American educators think that though wrong in defying federal law, Stegeman is stubborn in his opposition to Mexican American Studies at TUSD, characteristic that will bring him down. This stubborn characteristic is the hallmark of rightwing antagonism toward American Latinos especially Mexican Americans.

In Arizona we see the legacy of the Black Legend at its most virulent. Latino students fill nearly half the classroom seats in Arizona's public schools, but HB 2281 signed by Governor Jan Brewer makes it illegal for these students to learn about their Mexican American heritage in the schools. HB 2281 prohibits “schools from offering courses at any grade level that advocate ethnic solidarity, promote overthrow of the US government, or cater to specific ethnic groups.” Per the Acosta et. al. lawsuit, a Judge will rule this summer on the constitutionality of HB2281; the first issue the judge is asked to rule on is a challenge to the vagueness of the statue, specifically that it does not pass the standard required by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. HB 2281 was passed because of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne's personal distaste for the TUSC’s Chicano studies program, in which 3 percent of the district's 55,000 students participate. “He has been hell-bent on squashing the program ever since learning several years ago that Hispanic civil rights activist Dolores Huerta told Tucson High School students that Republicans hate Latinos" (Jessica Calefati, Mother Jones, May 12, 2010).

Given the vitriol against Latinos present in the public arena these days by Republicans, more and more signs are emerging that lend credence to the conclusion: “That Republicans hate Latinos.” In one recent town-hall meeting which Congressman Paul Ryan held in Wisconsin, he told his audience that “anchor babies cost money” which was likened by one Latin@ to saying that while children born to non-Latin@ U.S. citizens cost money it’s worse when they’re Latino children. Then, commenting on border security, Ryan asserted that the past philosophy of “catch and release” by the border patrol didn’t work, he was challenged by a woman in the audience asking him if he was talking about people or fish, a description she considered racist, to which Ryan responded that it was “free speech.” Sara Inés Calderón put that encounter into perspective by explaining that “when people with prejudice want to talk it’s called ‘free speech’ but when DREAMers want to [talk], they’re arrested or escorted out by police” (Twitter @SaraChicaD).

The Georgia legislature has just passed House Bill 87 which Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law and which David Zirin described as “shredding the Civil Rights of the state’s Latino population” (Newsletter of the William C. Velasquez Institute May 17, 2011). Latinos in Georgia are concerned that the law will raise the level of anti-Latino sentiment in the state. News Taco: the Latino Daily reports a rise in racially profiling Latinos in Georgia. Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), asserts that “there’s open discrimination all over the place” in Georgia, adding that “It’s an extremely hostile environment for . . . Latinos in Georgia” (News Taco.com 5-17-11). The battle cry for law enforcement officers in Georgia is: “Let’s go Hispanic hunting,” all of this driven principally by Republicans in Georgia.

In Arizona, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter (52nd District) and member of the House Armed Services Committee lashed out against the Navy’ initiative to name a U.S. cargo ship after Cesar Chavez (U.S. farmworker leader who was a World War II Navy veteran). Despite Cesar Chavez’ national standing, according to Hunter, Cesar Chavez is “unworthy as an American to have a U.S. ship named after him.” Gus Chavez, co-founder of the Latino Defend the Honor initiative and a Navy veteran, decries Duncan Hunter’s diatribe against Cesar Chavez, calling for all Latinos to defend the honor.

In equally lamentable fashion, Santana was booed at the Civil Rights baseball game in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday, May 15, when he took the microphone ostensibly to accept a civil rights honor, chastising instead Georgians for the anti-Latino bill signed into law by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Santana started by saying that he was representing all immigrants, continuing with “The people of Arizona and the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves.” Cheers turned to boos! Later, in impromptu comments in the Press Box, Santana continued: “Who’s going to change sheets and clean toilets? I invite all Latinos to do nothing for about two weeks so you can see who really, really is running the economy. Who cleans the sheets? Who cleans the toilets? Who babysits? I am here to give voice to the invisible” Dave Zirin, the sports commentator, described Santana’s courage as “one hell of an object lesson.” For U.S. Latinos the object lesson is that all Latinos must have the courage to speak up in the face of racism and discrimination.
We still want to name things after Cesar Chavez because racism and discrimination still abound in the United States. Onomastics (naming things) is in the nature of human beings; it's the process by which we make order out of chaos, the process that engenders pride and establishes presence and ownership in the world. Cesar Chavez is symbolic of that which Mexican Americans aspire to achieve--social justice for which more than a million Mexican Americans have fought in every American War since 1848. Ruben Navarrette is right: this flap over naming a street for Cesar Chavez is more than a dust-up about a street. It's about R-E-S-P-E-C-T as Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has put it so well.

Chicanos/Latinos are not afraid of the future; It's the white power-structure that's afraid of the browning of America. And still the anti-Hispanic beat goes on, notwithstanding the projection
by the U.S. Census Bureau, as reported by John Garrido, that “by the year 2097 50% of the entire population of the United States will be Hispanic, 30% will be black, 13% will be Asian, and only 5% will be white” (Blue Dogs of the Democratic Party, September 5, 2007). One can only ask how historical memory will play out then?

On 6/13/2011 12:37 AM, Calderon, Roberto wrote:
Source: Dorinda Moreno ‎[fuerzamundial@gmail.com]‎

Historia Chicana
13 June 2011

&

CNN Opinion

URL: http://articles.cnn.com/2011-06-03/opinion/navarrette.cesar.chavez_1_cesar-chavez-rights-for-farm-workers-honor?_s=PM:OPINION
Accessed: 13 June 2011

Why Are We Still Naming Things for Cesar Chavez?

By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor

June 3, 2011

I have to ask: Why are we still naming things for Cesar Chavez?
The iconic labor leader and founder of the United Farm Workers union died in 1993. And since then, dozens of streets, parks, schools, libraries and community centers around the country have been named after him.
Just last month, a Navy cargo ship was named for Chavez in recognition of the fact that he served in that branch of the military during World War II. And in San Antonio, a city that is now more than 60% Latino, the city council voted to rename a downtown street in honor of Chavez.
For a time, these kinds of gestures made sense. After a great American passes away, it's expected that there would be calls to honor him or her by naming this, or renaming that, and for this process to go on for several years. It's a sign of respect.
It's also an American tradition. It's one way for groups to assert that they are part of the national tapestry. When it was decided that a New York airport would be named after Fiorello LaGuardia, who served as mayor from 1934 to 1945, it was as much about honoring the city's Italian-American community as it was a former city leader. And when the name of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is attached to a school, library or street, it's often a nod to the local African-American community.
Likewise, naming something for Cesar Chavez has, in many U.S. cities, become a way of honoring Latinos.
My concern isn't with the worthiness of the individual. I'll stipulate that Chavez was a great American who helped bring fairness and dignity to the fields and the workers who toil there. Before Chavez and the union came along, there were no collective bargaining rights for farm workers, no toilets or clean drinking water in the fields, and little public awareness about pesticides and other dangers that workers must endure to put fruits and vegetables on our table. He helped change all that.
My concern is that there is a time for everything, and this campaign to name things for Chavez has been playing out for nearly 20 years. We're not the same country we used to be.
There are now 50.5 million Latinos in the United States. Two-thirds of them are Mexican or Mexican-American, the subgroup that probably most identifies with Chavez. But, in the remaining third, there are Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Salvadorans and others to whom Chavez means nothing.
Besides, you have to wonder: Why is it that Chavez always winds up with these honors? There are plenty of other distinguished Latino Americans -- of various backgrounds -- who have accomplished great things and deserve wide public recognition. They might get it if political leaders focused less on Chavez as a symbol and took a more comprehensive look at the reality of the Latino community.
After all, these efforts to name things after Chavez are rarely about Chavez. The same goes for any groups who are resistant to changing the name of a street or playground or city center to honor him. Most of that resistance isn't about the labor leader.
The larger drama is about changing demographics, ethnic power-plays and the entrenchment of the fearful. It's about where the Latino community fits into the existing power structure -- what they demand, what they are given and what they take. It's the latest chapter of an immigration and assimilation saga that played out with the Germans in Milwaukee, the Irish in Boston, and the Jews in New York. It's about demanding and receiving respect.
I know. I've seen this story up-close. I grew up in Central California, which was ground zero in the historical drama involving Chavez and the United Farm Workers.
I was living back home in Fresno in October 1993 when the city council there narrowly approved a motion to rename a city street in honor of Chavez. A 10-mile stretch of Kings Canyon Road was transformed into Cesar Chavez Boulevard. Then the powerful farm industry -- no fans of Chavez -- and its supporters, had their say. A few weeks later, at a public meeting with brown faces on one side and white faces on the other, the same council rescinded the order.
I was at that meeting, and I was stunned. I couldn't believe how a government body could treat the city's Latino community so shabbily, without fear of reprisal. For me, that was the bigger issue. That was the outrage. Never mind Chavez. The Fresno City Council wasn't being disrespectful to the dead. They were being disrespectful to the living. That is all that mattered.
Now, the same dynamic is playing out in San Antonio, where naming a street for Chavez has become a way for the Latino majority to flex its muscles, and fighting this change is how the Anglo minority tries to hold onto what little power it has left
When the time came to vote on the name change a few weeks ago, the seven Hispanic members of San Antonio City Council all voted in favor, while the two Anglos, the one African-American and the one Asian-American member voted no.
Who still thinks this dust-up is just about a street?
After the vote, the San Antonio Conservation Society, which had opposed the name change all along, refused to give up. With the tenacity of Davy Crockett fighting off Mexican soldiers at the Alamo, the Conservation Society sued to stop the name change out of concern for what a spokesman called "the integrity of our history."
And a state district court judge granted a temporary restraining order against the name change. There's a public hearing planned for Friday where the Conservation Society is planning to ask that the temporary injunction be made permanent. Let's hope the judge decides otherwise.
And let's also hope that, one day, we can put these silly dramas to rest. Ask yourselves: Which is more ridiculous, demanding that something be named for Cesar Chavez because you want to honor the past or resisting because you're terrified of the future?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ruben Navarrette.

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