Cinco De Mayo y la Casablanca or the Disgraceful Behavior of Men in Power
The Southwest Political Report
By: Matt Sedillo
Donald Trump, author of quotable May 5th infamy “Happy Cinco De Mayo. The best taco bowls are made at Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!” is the first President in 16 years not to commemorate the Mexican victory over the French at the battle of Puebla. This of course makes sense given how central the phrases like “Build the Wall” and “Mexico Will Pay” have been to the political rise of Trump.
This cancellation has to be seen within the context of Trump’s continued assault upon Mexico and everything Mexican.
Trump’s initial rise to power began with the defeat of the Bush clan. His initial victory over Jeb! was forged by making Jeb Bush, the previous frontrunner and chosen second son of the Republican brand, look like a Mexican lover. To this end Trump insulted Columba Bush. Trump questioned Jeb’s choice to speak Spanish, ever. Trump went as far to cut an ad similar to the Bush families own disgraceful Willie Horton ad, and more directly Pete Wilson’s prop 187 reign of visual terror, entitled an “Act of Love.” The ad juxtaposed the Jeb’s speech wherein he described migration from Mexico as “an act of love” with cases of violent criminals accused and or convicted of horrific crimes.
From the far right corners of racist reaction that exist in the country the take down of the Bush family not just Jeb on the basis of Mexican love was long overdue. It was in fact George W. Bush who in his first hundred days began the White House celebration of Cinco De Mayo.
How then could Trump possibly be seen celebrating Mexico without alienating his Mexican hating base? How would his legion of Davey Crockets respond to the celebration of people the President Select has thus far referred to most often as drug dealers, rapists and bad hombres?
Well, what are Vice Presidents for? Enter Mike Pence.
Moving from the traditional settings of the South Lawn or East Room, where typical goofy celebrations take place, such as the pardoning of turkeys and Easter egg hunts, Mike Pence in conjunction with Hispanic 100 hosted an event in the Indian Treaty Room (!!!!), in the nearby Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
The event was ostensibly MC’d by Mario Ramirez, founder of Hispanic 100 and the only Mexican American speaker, and included speeches from Mexican Ambassador Geronimo Gutierrez, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, and Vice President Mike Pence.
Gutierrez offered diplomatic though ultimately ahistorical words concerning Abraham Lincoln and Benito Juarez that affirm the bonds between Mexico and the US. Lincoln once said “Mexico is no doubt a nation of mongrels.”
Pence presented an unremarkable speech that pushed the nation of immigrant’s narrative and the Ellis Islanding of the Southern border. He compared his own life experience as the distant relative of Irish immigrants to today’s realities of Mexicans and Mexican Americans living in the US.
This SeanPennism, I am just like you, actually you’re just like me, actually you’re the new me, actually you have no history, actually your existence is just a reflection of my grandparents, actually you don’t actually exist, actually I am just going to take this opportunity to talk about myself, wait a hundred years maybe you can become me, actually let me just get back to talking about myself, the US has always been a nation of immigrants, needs to be brought to a close. It is ahistorical and used as a means to mystify and confuse the social struggle of the peoples of the Latin America. In 2017 nor in recent decades has the census recognized such categories as Non-Irish White, Non-Polish White, Non-Italian White. There is simply the broad category of Non-Hispanic White. Whatever the various peoples of Latin America in their great ethnic diversity and various historical trajectories are to be identified as, whatever their positions are to one another within the broader question of Latinidad, their position as being of Latin America here in the U.S. is seen as a deficit in comparison to the so called Non-Hispanic White designation.
Ramirez disgraced himself and everyone who witnessed his act of disgrace with his introduction of Alex Acosta, wherein he posed the question, “Why don’t we have more Hispanics in the cabinet?” to which he answered, “Well it’s because this President, what he does he picks the absolute best he can find for that position.” In doing so Ramirez echoed Sean Spicer’s “best and brightest” defense for the lack of a “Hispanic” presence in the US cabinet. Alex Acosta, who was brought in to replace Andrew Pudzer who withdrew in disgrace, in fear of Oprah Winfrey(google that), is the only Latino in Trump’s cabinet.
Acosta who supposedly fits the best and brightest criteria drubbed listening ears with this mind-numbing ahistory, “We are here today to celebrate Cinco De Mayo. Cinco De Mayo commemorates the Mexican Americans battle of pueblas victory over French forces of invasion, more than 150 years ago. The battle inspired Mexicans to rally around their nation. And over time the people of Mexico resisted dominance and in a subsequent war they achieved independence.” This is not what happened.
The celebrations of Cinco De Mayo by both George W. Bush and Barrack Obama were condescending and absurd and truth be told both far less respectful than Mike Pence. W. initiated the event with his biggest shout out going out to Emilio Estafan, who he said should be grateful that he allowed to come without Gloria. Obama once closed a speech saying “go easy on the tequila.”
Perhaps its best that celebrations of Cinco de Mayo be phased out of the White House calendar.
Holidays are symbolic. They represent moments on the calendar year wherein peoples celebrate cultural traditions and wonders. This is true of everyone. To greet the celebration of Cinco de Mayo on American soil with anger and hostility is racist and anti-Mexican. To celebrate Cinco de Mayo in caricature and condescension is racist and anti-Mexican. Until individuals and institutions can act right, perhaps they should keep certain words out of their mouth, certain hats off their heads (maybe that’s best for the foreseeable future) and certain events off their calendar. Then again people of Mexican heritage deserve the same dignity and recognition as anyone and access to the institutions of the society they live in . But days of dignity and recognition will not be won with the world as it is currently structured. Not for Mexicans, not for anyone.
Taco trucks every corner.
Photo courtesy of El Heraldo de San Luis Potosi