Category Archives: 3rd Centavo

Tuiteo of the Day: Grow Up!


3rd Centavo ~ Acuña: Sometimes You Have to Shout

by Rodolfo F. Acuña

Why should Latinos support Justice for Trayvon Martin? It is not the first time that I have been asked that question about another group. Take care of the family first.

Through the years, people have questioned why I was against capital punishment and supported cases such as that of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a black journalist originally sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

I got involved in the case through my friend attorney Elliot Grossman who enlisted me during his appeal of the conviction of Manuel Salazar, a young Chicano artist on death row in Illinois, who had been sentenced for the 1984 murder of a white Joliet police officer. Salazar was freed after Republican Governor of Illinois George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions in January 2000. Ryan’s action led to the exoneration of 13 death-row inmates — the most prominent was Rolando Cruz, whom the state freed after 12 years on the Illinois death row for the 1983 murder and rape of a 10-year-old girl. A repeated sex offender and murderer named Brian Dugan confessed to the crime. It was collaborated by DNA testing that linked Dugan to the crime. Elliot for a time was Mumia’s attorney.

When people asked me why we were supporting a black instead of concentrating on Chicanas/os, my first reaction was flippant (porque me da la chingada gana) but after thinking my response changed and ir was similar to that that I have toward the Trayvan Martin case: “It is not only Trayvon Martin who was wronged, it was society. The law is bad and encourages this behavior toward people who look different. Look at the attacks and murders of undocumented immigrants.” In supporting Mumia or Trayvon Martin, we are insuring that this injustice will not spread.

I also reject the argument that George Zimmerman should be supported because he is Latino. Incidentally, he never identified as a Latino, and he obviously identified as white. The Huffington Post’s Gene Demby dug into his past and came up with an old MySpace page belonging to Zimmerman. In it, he made disparaging comments about Mexicans, and he bragged about a 2005 criminal case against him.

The prosecution was so afraid of the issue of race that to my knowledge it was not brought up.

In Myspace Zimmerman discussed his hatred toward Mexicans, saying why he did not miss his former home in Manassas, Virginia:

I dont miss driving around scared to hit mexicans walkin on the side of the street, soft ass wanna be thugs messin with peoples cars when they aint around (what are you provin, that you can dent a car when no ones watchin) dont make you a man in my book. Workin 96 hours to get a decent pay check, gettin knifes pulled on you by every mexican you run into!”

In that same year, he was arrested and charged after an altercation with a police officer and his fiancé at the time got a restraining order against him.

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that Mexicans and other Latinos are also profiled by police agencies. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” gun laws encourage rampant racial profiling. The postings take on many levels. Even so Zimmerman’s supporters try portray him as the victim and a peace loving citizen who was trying to protect his neighborhood, forgetting that Trayvon’s father was also a neighbor.

I feel almost certain if Trayvon did not look difference he would be alive today.

Now the jurors will write their books and Zimmerman will turn whiter, and appear as a guest of honor at right wing functions. His claim to fame is that he murdered a 17-year old kid who looked different.

The facts say that Zimmerman was a racist before he killed and when he killed Trayvon Martin.

So why are people taking to the streets? It is too hot to be walking around in the sun. The simple answer is “Sometimes You Have to Shout To be Heard!”

Henry David Thoreau in Civil Disobedience and Other Essays wrote:

Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?

Because of civil disobedience injustice such as slavery was kept in the public view and consciousness.

Just in my lifetime I have seen countless examples of inter-racial solidarity and the effectiveness of civil disobedience: the civil rights movement, the anti-war movements, stopping the U.S. from the use of nuclear weapons, the movements for Chicana/o studies, the middle-eastern wars, the LBGT movements just to name a few. People were not quiet in those instances and we are a better society because people shouted.

Unfortunately, I think many of us are forgetting history. Nothing comes without struggle. As Henry Thoreau wrote:

Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.

Trayvon Martin was a 17-year old kid who is no more because Zimmerman saw him as different.

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of ChicanosDr. Acuña writes various opinions and essays on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.

Peanuts and Oranges: Support Scholarship Fund

For those who have an extra $5 a month for scholarship, the For Chicana/o Studies Foundation was started with money awarded to Rudy Acuña as a result of his successful lawsuit against the University of California at Santa Barbara. The Foundation has given over $60,000 to plaintiffs filing discrimination suits against other universities. However, in the last half dozen years it has shifted its focus, and it has awarded 7-10 scholarships for $750 per award on an annual basis to Chicana/o and Latina/o students at California State University-Northridge (CSUN). The For Chicana/o Studies Foundation is a 501(c) (3) Foundation and all donations are deductible.

Although many of its board members are associated with Chicana/o Studies, it is not part of the department. All monies generated go to fund these scholarships.We know that times are hard. Lump sum donations can be sent to For Chicana Chicano Studies Foundation, 11222 Canby Ave., Northridge, Ca. 91326 or through PayPal below. You can reach us at Click and make a donation. You may also elect to send $5.00, $10.00 or $25.00 monthly. For your convenience and privacy you may donate via PayPal. The important thing is not the donation, but your continued involvement.

Online Survey: College Students Socially Liberal, Worried About Future

Just got this bit of data from Trinity College in which over 1,700 college students were polled on various issues. I’ll just provide you the entire text for you to read, but if this is a response to recent Republican obstruction and practices, well, the Republicans may not only need to worry about Latinos and Women and Blacks and Gays, etc.

Those were among the findings of the American Religion Identification Survey (ARIS) 2013 College Student Survey conducted by Trinity College in April and May, and partly funded by The Center for Inquiry in Amherst, NY. The principal investigators were Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, public policy research professors and the authors of the renowned ARIS survey series since 1990.

The surveyed students, ages 18 to 29, attend 38 colleges and universities from across the U.S., including so-called Red and Blue States. Twelve of the institutions are located in the South, 12 in the Northeast, eight in the West and six in the Midwest. Fourteen of the colleges and universities are private; 24 are public. A random sample of emails was taken from each school’s list. The sample is fairly representative of today’s four-year college students. Fifty-nine percent of the respondents were women and 28 percent were members of minority groups, including African Americans, Latinos, Asians and some who described themselves as “other.”

Asked their political party affiliation, 42 percent said they are Democrats, 26 percent said independent and 19 percent said Republican. Thirteen percent said other or don’t know. However, when asked their ideological philosophy, 32 percent identified themselves as liberal, 17 percent said conservative and an identical 17 percent said moderate. Twelve percent said progressive, 6 percent said libertarian and 15 percent said other or don’t know.

The responses to several public policy questions, in particular, demonstrate that the current cohort of college students is very concerned about their economic future and job prospects, and don’t see the picture brightening. They also see a country where the per-capita debt has risen, and an aging population whose Social Security and Medicare bills will be largely borne by younger Americans. A large majority, 85 percent, consider a “balanced federal budget” to be an important issue, while 13 percent do not.

“Having lived through a steep economic downturn and facing a rocky recovery that is not producing the high-paying, good-benefit jobs that previous generations benefitted from,” said Kosmin, “it’s not surprising that college students see difficult times ahead for themselves, particularly since many have gone deeply into debt to pay for their education. So they question whether they’ll ever be able to achieve the quality of life that their parents have enjoyed.”

Indeed, asked whether young people’s changes of establishing themselves economically and professionally in the U.S. will be better, worse or the same in comparison with their parents’ generation, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of the respondents said worse, 19 percent said better and 13 percent don’t know. The more pessimistic students tended to be male, white and Latino, attend private college and major in the arts or humanities. Women, African Americans, students studying at public universities and those majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics – fields that typically pay higher salaries and have plentiful jobs – are among the more optimistic about economic advancement.

Moreover, 56 percent agree with the statement that, “people with no college degree have little chance of succeeding in life in the U.S. today,” although 42 percent disagree. And 85 percent of those who turned in the survey said “economic inequality is a major issue in the U.S. today.” Even more women (88 percent) agreed with the statement than men (81 percent). Only 14 percent of the respondents think economic inequality is not a major issue.

Three-quarters of the students said a higher minimum wage is important, compared to 23 percent who said it’s unimportant and 7 percent who don’t know. Yet, 69 percent of the respondents said immigrants don’t threaten American jobs, whereas 25 percent said they do and 6 percent don’t know.

In terms of non-economic issues, a whopping 91 percent of the students endorse the Constitution’s First Amendment right that people should be guaranteed freedom of expression regardless of their views. Six percent disagreed and only 3 percent were unsure.

“This finding implies criticism of the speech codes imposed by many colleges,” said Kosmin.

Regarding the Second Amendment, when asked whether the federal government should do more to control the sale of handguns, 70 percent said yes, 24 percent said no and 6 percent didn’t know.

The survey demonstrated that college students are more open-minded than older Americans on many controversial and divisive issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Asked whether women’s reproductive rights must be defended, 84 percent of women agreed, as did 74 percent of men. Ten percent of the female students disagreed, as did 15 percent of male students. As for same-sex marriage, which has been in the news of late given the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, three-quarters of the students (76 percent) said gay marriage should be legalized nationally, while 17 percent disagreed. Seven percent said maybe.

Another issue that was recently dealt with by the Supreme Court was affirmative action. Asked whether affirmative action in college admissions should be abolished, 42 percent said it should be, 35 percent said it shouldn’t be and 23 percent were unsure.

“The finding on affirmative issue showed a more culturally conservative side to the students than the answers to other questions,” said Keysar. “It could be because it’s an issue that directly affects students and their ability to gain admission to the college of their choice.”

The above could also be a response to enrollment growth among minority group members at colleges and universities, as well as budget cuts which affect college enrollment growth, financial aid, etc. The competition is getting stiffer at major universities. Still, all one has to look at are the numbers which state minority groups are still vastly outnumbered by Anglos at colleges and universities.

When it comes to religion, 32 percent of the students described themselves as religious, 32 percent said they are spiritual but not religious, and 28 percent said they are secular but not religious. Eight percent offered no answer.

Students were divided on whether religion is the root cause of conflicts around the globe. Asked whether religion brings more conflict than peace, 47 percent said yes, 41 percent said no and 12 percent were unsure. As for religious liberty in this country, 57 percent said they didn’t believe it is being threatened, 35 percent said it is threatened and 8 percent were unsure.

Regarding their views of the ethics and integrity of people in various professions, the students had relatively low opinions of most, except for scientists who led the way at about 65 percent, followed by clergy at roughly 40 percent. They were followed in descending order by university administrators and police officers (38 percent); bankers and journalists (17 percent); and professional athletes and corporate executives (less than 10 percent).

Similarly, asked whose opinion the students trust concerning social and political issues, the answers they gave in descending order were: themselves, family members and academics, professors and academics, friends, the president of the U.S., religious leaders, local political representatives, national political representatives, political commentators, and political bloggers/Internet forums.

Among other findings:

•       Eighty-three percent of the students agree that they have “a personal responsibility to help those worse off than myself.” Thirteen percent disagreed.
•       About half (51 percent) said unionized workers have a right to collectively bargain. Eighteen percent disagreed. Nearly one-third (31 percent) didn’t know.
•       Forty-seven percent said assisted suicide for the terminally ill should be legalized, 20 percent said it shouldn’t and 30 percent said maybe.
•       Forty-five percent believe in the efficacy of prayer, compared with 20 percent who don’t and 35 percent who said maybe.
•       Exactly half said they believe in miracles, 26 percent said they don’t and 24 percent said maybe.

The Rick Perry Record

Thanks to our friends at One Texas PAC, we have a 2-minute vid that sums up the Rick Perry record in Texas. And if the mantle of leadership is passed on to Greg Abbott, well, it will be more of the same, if not worse.

3rd Centavo: Acuna ~ How History is Socially Controlled in K-12

Setting Standards:  Serfs and Lords

by Rodolfo F. Acuña

People ask me if the banning of books is actually a blessing in disguise because it calls attention to the banned books. I respond, “Hell No!” Censorship threatens our freedom of speech, and it is the final step toward a totalitarian state.

In the guise of security, our emails and our phones are tapped. Anyone using a Wi-Fi can be spied on at will. What is happening today pales George Orwell’s 1984; it is as insidious as the methods used by the Nazis, the Stasi and the Russians.

The fallout of the banning of books affects all of us. In the future, it will negatively affect the publication of Latino books. What makes it so dangerous is that most of us are oblivious to this threat to our liberties. We are like the serfs in the Middle-Ages who were willing surrender their freedoms and their properties to the feudal lords in return for protection.

The first fatality of censorship is the truth. In the case of the censorship of books by the Tucson Unified School District, it was not just the books that were banned, it is also what will be published in the future. The banning of books did not affect the sales of Occupied America or the other banned books – the banning certainly did not hurt Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

The big losers are the new authors. Mexican Americans and Latinos do not have a defined market share to start off. Now they scared publishers to take a chance. As it stands, publishers look at us as foreigners and find excuses not to print books on U.S. Latinos.

The banning in Arizona will have a chilling effect on less established Chicana/o children book authors whose previous books showed promise, but will now have to wait and see which way the wind blows.

This hits close to home — been there before.

My first works were children and young adult books. They were accepted by publishers because there was a slight opening. They saw an emerging market for them in California and Texas. In the latter sixties, California’s social studies standards wrote Mexican Americans into its guidelines; this represented a huge breakthrough.

California purchased all the books for its school districts so even as supplemental reading material, there was a niche.

The other market was Texas. Publishers could have cared less whether Nebraska expressed an interest in Chicana/o K-12 children’s books. Publishers cared and care more about profit than need.

I had planned to write a children’s book every other year. At the time, I was inspired by the children’s books of Nephtali De Leon and Ernesto Galarza that went beyond entertainment.

At first the Texas Education Agency was enthusiastic about the books. However, things quickly changed. The first was a teacher backlash such as when San Joaquin Valley teachers threw Cultures in Conflict into the waste basket and refused to teach it.

Meanwhile, my activism was making waves, and Chicanos in the TEA told me that they were getting complaints about me from various districts. I was told in confidence that Texas would not be buying my books; this was confirmed by the American Book Co. and Charter Books both of whom had planned to publish more books on Mexican Americans.

These were not isolated cases. The truth be told, thought control exists throughout American education. It is subtle, and is much less transparent than the banning of books.

In Tucson, the books were removed from the classrooms in full view of students and teachers. The only thing that was missing was the Inquisitor’s bonfire. Also, most districts are not as stupid as Tucson and outlaw Shakespeare.

In California and the rest of the country commissions are appointed by the state boards of education to determine what can be taught at K-12 grade levels. The commissions are comprised of small groups of educators – generally white. Their actions are followed closely by special interest groups who want their version of the Apostles’ Creed taught in the schools.

Standards seem innocuous. Indeed, the word standard seems progressive, and we think of it as some kind of measurement. The mindset is that standards are necessary to furthered safety. They are necessary to improve our lives.

But the word is not as innocent as it seems. Today, the setting of standards in education has reached ridiculous proportions. It dictates what students can and cannot learn. Who is and who is not important to know about. In every sense of the word it amounts to censorship.

Without the knowledge of most people, the fight over standards has become part of the nation’s culture wars.

The problem is not so much with setting benchmarks in math and science – that is, unless they become muddied by the teaching of creationism. The major battlefields are in the field history–social science where right wing conservative groups focus their attacks.

Even liberals such as the late historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. often join the nativist ranks. Schlesinger in the 1990s wrote The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society that attacked multiculturalism and Afrocentrism. His position was so jingoistic that Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a professor of English and Afro-American studies at Harvard, called Schlesinger’s arguments a “demand [for a] cultural white-face.”

Schlesinger and his gaggle of supporters wanted U.S. standards to focus more on what the United States has done right than wrong on topics such as slavery and the treatment of Native Americans.

According to Schlesinger, the American identity was in jeopardy because multiculturalism and Afrocentricism placed race and ethnicity over national affiliation. Identity politics, according to Schlesinger, promoted separatist ideas of history.

Today, well-funded right wing foundations such as the National Association of Scholars have openly entered the culture wars. Their tactics are to purchase right wing scholars and fund their research.

In reality, Schlesinger’s position was not out of character. In an editorial in the New York Times Barry Gwen, “The C.I.A. and the Culture War,” wrote that Schlesinger’s early career was funded by the agency. The practice was part of the Cold War strategy.

In recent years Texas has been in the eye of the storm. Its fifteen member board of education is intent on promoting a curriculum that cultivates a suspicion of the notion of the separation of church, and indoctrinates students on the alleged contributions of the National Rifle Association to American history.

Texas is important because it in 2011 it had 4.8 million textbook-reading schoolchildren. The board that selects standards, selects what the children read. Special interests control the board because of a light turn out of voters and because of the contributions of wealthy donors that elect culture warriors.

This is not new. Since the 1960s, the selection of schoolbooks in Texas has been the target of the religious right.

Why do publishers tolerate these standards and demands to censor books? They are in it for the money. The State of Texas pays for the textbooks and the loss of this market could be a financial disaster.

In Arizona and Texas, the Mexican has replaced the communist as the boogeyman.

Witness the idiocy of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne who justifies the censorship of books and the attack on Mexican American Studies by making absurd accusations that MAS promotes separatism and intends to reconquer Aztlán.

In conclusion, the banning of books or allowing right wing extremist to tell us what students should learn or not learn is thought control. It is undemocratic and we should fight back.

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of ChicanosDr. Acuña writes various opinions and essays on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.

3rd Centavo: Acuña ~ When You’re Stupid, You’re Stupid

by Rodolfo F. Acuña

My mother use to say, “Cuando eres pendejo, eres pendejo;” and there was not much you could do about it – you were just born that way. Although I always enjoy my mother’s sayings, I do not believe that stupidity is genetic. With Americans I would blame their educational system, for as my mother used to say, there is a difference between being schooled and being educated.

What can you expect of an educational system where, according to a 2012 Gallup Poll, 46 percent, of Americans believe in creationism? It follows that creationists are more likely to be Republican than Democrat or Independent. I am not saying that believing in god or religion is stupid, but a lack of critical thinking qualifies as stupid.

Our educational system has been gutted, and our students taught to pass tests rather than to think critically. Because of the incessant assault on schools by corporate and property interests, school programs have been devastated – and art and physical education classes eliminated.

The result is an increased warehousing of students who are cooped up without much physical activity. Class sizes have shot up, and many educators blame parents and the students, who must, according to their stupid logic, be the problem. As a consequence, to control hyperactive kids more students are drugged with Ritalin – ADHD. Just keep them quiet and controlled.

Old myths such as Horatio Alger are repackaged to justify a mass transfer of the cost of education from corporations and the upper echelons of society to middle and working class students and their families.

The stupidity is that we accept stupidity. Class mobility in this country is based on education – and like it or not Horatio Alger like Santa Claus is a myth.

There is no shortage of examples of stupidity. Take costly propaganda against Obamacare,

Health care in the United States is more expensive than in any other industrialized nation. We rationalize that Americans are getting the world’s best health care. Actually, the United States spent $7,960 per capita on health care in 2009, almost three times the amount spent in Japan. We pay more for physician visits, hospital treatments and prescription drugs. And, still Americans are obese.

The problem is clear. It is not Obamacare, it has not even gone into effect. The problem is insurance companies, HMOs, pharmaceutical companies, and all the middlemen that all take their cut. And this does not include the members of Congress who keep the system oiled.

We are stupid because we take it. Like my mother used to say, we should just lower our brows so everyone can see the big “P” (Pendejo) on our foreheads.

Every time I see the basset hound (Sen. Mitch McConnell), the drunk (Speaker John Boehner), and the mini-me (Cong. Eric Cantor) meet the press to talk about austerity, the “P” on their foreheads light up. How anyone can accept the logic that if we eliminate school teachers and allow our roads to go to pot, that this will bring about prosperity?

It does not dawn on Americans that running of two major wars on the credit card has contributed to the economic collapse. In 2011, fifty of the largest lobbying spenders spent $176.1 million from July through September. Could this be one of the reasons why deregulation led to the present recession? Could this be the reason that not a single banker or Wall Street CEO has gone to jail?

Americans are stupid because they ignore this. During the Second Industrial Revolution when we built the transcontinental railroads, railroad lobbyists would go on the floor of Congress and pass out railroad stock. Mark Twain dubbed the period The Gilded Age in 1873.

Today the scandal and corruption of the Gilded Age is dwarfed, so instead of putting a Big P on our foreheads we should substitute a “C” for cuckold or its counterpart in Spanish – cabrón. We know that our elected officials, our government and our Supreme Court are bought off, and we do nothing about it.

The truth be told, we don’t want to accept that they are cheating us because if we did, we would have to do something about it. You want to lose a friend, just tell them that their partner is fooling around on them.

Part of the debate around immigration centers on whom we should give preferences to. The P’s say that we should be attracting those with technical skills. To them it is logical to drain the brain power of poorer countries. No matter that the poor nations spent millions of dollars training these technicians. Of course, it does not dawn on them that the answer is to improve our own schools.

Why do people hate us? No one wants to know that they have bad breath. Could it be that many people consider us terrorists? In El Salvador, the United States funded and trained the death squads. In Guatemala the CIA ran a covert action called Operation Success that allowed military dictators to rule the country from the 1960s to the 90s. The United States provided the weapons and trained their officers who killed over 250,000 Guatemalan peasants.

Some people find it hypocritical for us to label others terrorists.

I don’t take pleasure in putting a “P” or a “C” on people’s foreheads. When you think about it, it is not funny, it is tragic.

But you know that was part of the reason for the assault on the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies program. It had to do with history: Attorney General Tom Horne said the district was using my book, and that I lied because I said that the United States invaded Mexico. Horne said that Mexican Americans were using history as a springboard to invading the U.S. The level of his discourse earned him more than a Big P on his forehead.

But where the Arizona jingoists went berserk was that the Tucson curriculum was designed to teach students to think critically. This, according to them, was subversive, un-American and led to racism. It was better to educate students not to question, to wear Big Ps on their foreheads and graduate them to wearing Big Cs. It is better for them to ignore that they are being cheated on and that they are being robbed.


Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of ChicanosDr. Acuña writes various opinions and essays on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.

3rd Centavo ~ Acuña – The Immigration Shell Game

by Rodolfo F. Acuña

When I was in high school I never thought I would appreciate the conjugation of verbs and the declension of nouns. It was boring; however, I must admit that it introduced me to a deductive system of formal argument consisting of premises and conclusions that allowed me to test whether the deductions were true or false.

Today, we take short cuts, upgrade our syllogisms to paradigms, and we try to sell our ideas as exemplars. The premise is put forward and sold as the truth, arguing that a majority of the experts agree with our proposition. Like religion the pseudo paradigm is based on a higher authority.

In our minds our proclamation becomes a universally recognized statement of fact, and it sets our model for future arguments. The proposition thus supports our conclusions, and has the effect of helping us convince others of our premise.

The problem is that we do not test the argument. We make assumptions, presenting theories, values, and practices that distort reality. In this instance, deductive reasoning bypasses the facts that normally join existing statements or that are determined through repeated observations.

Without this habit of reasoning, we drift into George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and the fictional language of Newspeak that allows Big Brother to influence our conclusion through doublespeak. In the case of today’s society, we have many competing big brothers assisted by little brothers who want to justify their big brothers.

Take the question of immigration. Even liberal pundits on MSNBC are spinning it as a victory. Christopher Hayes reasoned recently that a year ago we had nothing and that now we have something. Thus there has been progress. He moves the bar to 2012 and ignores that in 2007 we had more, and concludes that something is better than nothing based on 2012.

To be fair, I have heard the same argument from Latinos who view any agreement as a victory. I cannot understand their reasoning. We are taking a bath on immigration, i.e., it looks as if a guest worker program will be part of the grand bargain, and it is likely that there will be a long, slippery and tenuous pathway to citizenship.

We are buying into the argument that the undocumented are cutting in the line, cheating their way into the country. At the present time, the dealmakers are tying the pathway to citizenship to border security, and who is to say that the border is not already secure or when it will be secure enough to satisfy the naysayers.

It is not fair; indeed it is racist. I do not remember a national uproar when Pat Buchannan proposed a law giving preferences to the Irish, or objections to the countless exceptions we made for Nazi rocket scientists and refugees from Central Europe, Cuba or Nicaragua. Under U.S. law, if you have enough money, you can buy yourself a first class ticket to the front of the line.

Experts question the premise that the border is not secure. The U.S.-Mexican border is certainly more secure than the U.S. – Canadian border. Certainly security cannot be measured by the fences, drones and troops on the border. Lest we forget many of the so-called the 9/11 terrorists came by way of the Canadian border. In any event, the border is not at risk because of undocumented workers but because of U.S. policies have ruined the ability of small Mexican farmers to stay on their land. The border is insecure because of the U.S. War on Drugs, which is bankrupting both countries. It is insecure because people are poor, and hunger has no borders.

But let’s further test the premise that Latin Americans are getting special treatment. This is an argument made even by the Left who justified the 1965 Immigration Act because in part it was part of the Civil Rights legislation and a slice of its reforms. It is true that it ended the U.S.’s racist National Origins policy that based entrance on race; it allowed previously excluded Asians and Middle Easterners to enter the country. On the positive side the 1965 Act implemented a policy of family reunification through Family Preferences.

However, it is also a fact that Latin Americans were not a quota before the 1965 Immigration Act. The United States reneged on promises of Pan Americanism and shell games that followed such as the Good Neighbor Policy.

Liberals bargained this special relationship away. The reform amounted to kicking Latinos out of the line in order to be fair to Asians and other Third World people. The question is why was this deal was ever made? Why was it necessary to rob Peter to pay Paul?

On the other hand, conservatives in 1965 accepted the bargain because they believed that the Germans, the British and northern Europeans would continue to immigrate in large numbers. That they did not continue to flood our borders speaks loads to the positive results of the Marshall Plan – people do not come to the United States unless there is an economic incentive and conditions in their own countries are bad.

So, the reasoning of nativists that Latinos are cutting in the line holds no water. The argument that anything is better than nothing is also fallacious. I could offer countless examples of historical facts that disprove the syllogism, but reason makes no difference to the double speakers.

This is also true of the argument that we are somehow winning on gun control legislation because we are getting a gun law through the senate. No matter that assault weapons will be permissible and meaningful background checks have joined the fishes in the ocean. According to the cheerleaders, we got something.

I am not going to dwell on this but let’s not forget that the Ku Klux Klan, Ronald Reagan, and, for most of its history, the NRA all worked for gun controls. The only thing that was different was that they did not want the guns in the hands of blacks and minorities.

In 1967, according to these double speakers, the Black Panthers led by Bobby Seale “invaded” Sacramento, California with an army of thirty black men and women carrying .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns, and .45-caliber pistols . In June, Reagan signed the Mulford Act prohibiting the carrying of firearms in any public place.

(Note that in Arizona white Tea Partyers and Minutemen parade around with guns at their side.) However, in the instance of the Black Panthers there was little talk about the Second Amendment. Conservatives demanded gun control laws and got them. The people with the guns were the wrong color.

The reactions of progressives underscore the consequences of doublespeak. Instead of being mad as hell at President Barack Obama and Senator Harry Reid, progressives are borrowing a page from President George W. Bush when he turned to his FEMA director, Michael Brown and said “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”, while New Orleans sank in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The truth be told, when it comes to Immigration Reform and gun control we have lost the battles. We should not delude ourselves into thinking that we have won – we haven’t.

I have always been of the philosophy that you hit while things are hot. When we set up the Mexican American Studies Department in the spring of 1969, the administration told me that we only had to get twelve courses approved to be a department. We could do the rest latter. I did not and still do not trust them so I wrote up forty-seven proposals and got them approved while it was hot.

Today, I have mellowed, and I propose (tongue in cheek) that we charter the National Chicana/o Rifle Association (NCCRA) – wondering what the reaction will be from conservatives and liberals alike.

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Dr. Acuña writes various opinions on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.

3rd Centavo~ Acuña: The Young Grow Old

by Rodolfo F. Acuña

Rank and file Democrats are desperate for a turnaround of their political fortunes, and an end of the Robber Baron era — so much so that they see the recent elections as their deliverance. For them, the last presidential election was a sign that the country is turning to the left, and that Democrats will be able to keep the presidency for eternity. They believe that obstructionism of Republicans will be drowned by the growing numbers of youth, minority, homosexual and Latino voters. Their hope is that the changes will put them on the road to a more communitarian and humane society.

Pundit after pundit predicts that the entrance of large numbers gay and Latino voters will end the culture wars that divide the country. There is only one problem — progressives forget that the “Young Grow Old.”

It is easy to get caught up in the euphoria of the moment. I remember demonstrations in the 1960s, and thinking that we had entered a new era. I did not fully appreciate the seductive power of capital in negating any communitarian or humane transformation. I also underestimated the ability of the ruling class to twist the words of sociologists, and blame the victim with phrases such as the “culture of poverty.”

Nor did I take into account the self-interest of many of the demonstrators who opposed the war; they remained interested for only as long as they were personally threatened. Poverty and injustice was only visible for as long as the young remained young. They became invisible once more as the baby boomers grew old, and took on mortgages. They then distanced themselves from poverty, which again became a non-priority.

Before we enter the World of Oz once more, we should remember that age will not make us wiser; it will not make us more humane. Our system of governing has been taken captive by billionaires who have always been old and count on the young growing old. They count on the individual and the community being disconnected. They have purposely disconnected the family unit from the community, and destroyed any sense of shared history. In this environment poverty and injustice become invisible.

We are blinded by temporary victories and the glitter of that huge flag pin dangling from our lapels.

Tax breaks for the rich are softened by senior citizens discounts. Daily we play the game of bargains. Every day my family receives more advertisements from Macy’s than it does from St. Jude’s.

The tactics differ; St. Jude tries to jar us with photos of pelones, bald children who have gone through chemotherapy. Macy’s plays more to our self-interest, and like society seduces us. It sends us coupons. Items that cost $99.99 are marked down to $79.99, and then as a preferred customer you get an additional 20% off, and if you have a Macy’s Bank of America card, you get an additional 20%. By the time you get through with the sale you have saved over 50%. That is a deal!

The cost of being taken (exploited) becomes invisible. Penney’s recently started a marketing strategy where it posted the true price. No coupons. However, it was such a disaster that the new CEO came under attack and was fired. The truth be told, we have reached the point where young and old want to be taken.

As Latinos and gays get older and discrimination is hidden by the coupon game they will forget that at one time Latinos did not have green cards, and gays could not marry. None of us are immune to seduction. We just turn the other way. Latinos and blacks today tolerate reactionary voices among them, although it is obvious that these voices conflict with their interests.

As in the movie “Soylent Green,” (1973) we’ll take the green wafer which is advertised to contain “high-energy plankton.” Foods that we remember will fade from memory as we grow old.

Coming off my high horse, it does not have to be like this. Our minds can stay young, and we should remember that at one time most people could afford a home. I bought my first home at 21 – no down payment, total cost $8500. I could qualify for it on my janitor’s salary. Today that same house costs $500,000; $100,000 down. And I am sure I could not qualify for it on a teacher’s salary. You do not get coupons to buy a home unless they plan to take it away.

The Left is complicit in the aging of our memory. Their journals and their activities include little material to politically educate and integrate Latinos. The Nation rarely includes articles on Latinos west of Chicago. Tellingly, most turned the other way as Mexican American history, books and culture were banned in Arizona.

If Democrats want to keep Mexican Americans and youth young, they are going to have to invest in their political education. They must integrate Mexican American and Latino history into the fabric of the progressive history of the United States. The Left is going to have to respect Mexican Americans and support their causes and know who they are.

Recently there was an exchange between so-called socialists; a Mexican American member (a true activist) criticized the body for its white chauvinism. He criticized the members’ lack of knowledge of Latino history. A pedant answered the criticism with a long winded response naming many African-American members of the Communist Party.

What was revealing was that the respondent named only Latin Americans living south of the United States as communist. It was as if Mexican Americans or Latinos in this country did not exist.

If progressives really want a communitarian society they will support Mexican American and other Latino issues. They will integrate these causes into the progressive agenda, work to achieve them instead of just handing out coupons. A sign of respect for the masses is remembering their names even when they are not considered part of the vanguard.

I must admit it is nice to get a senior citizens discount even though there are others who cannot afford to watch the movie. You know, the people cannot afford Obamacare because of the cost of medical insurance. In order to have a humane and communitarian society, we have to go beyond, “Don’t touch my Medicare!” and stop hoarding it as if it were only for the old.

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Dr. Acuña writes various opinions on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.

3rd Centavo ~ Acuña: The Case of Marco Rubio

by Dr. Rodolfo Acuña

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) strongly criticized the first draft of President Obama’s immigration reform plan saying “It’s a mistake for the White House to draft immigration legislation without seeking input from Republican members of Congress… ,” predicting that “if actually proposed, the President’s bill would be dead on arrival in Congress.” The Rubio statement calls the bill “half-baked and seriously flawed.” It alleges that Obama’s bill is not tough enough on border security and that it penalizes “those who chose to do things the right way and come here legally” over “those who broke our immigration laws.”

Rubio’s statement undermines the social construct of a Hispanic group that bonds the disparate Latino groups. Many of the activist members of this group dismissed Rubio as a “gusano” – a worm or a maggot – a term popularly used to refer to reactionary Cuban exiles that came here during the 1960s.

Prior to his epiphany Rubio had no interest in Mexican or Latino immigrants; his sudden awakening and concern about immigration was kindled because of the strength of the Latino vote, and Mr. Rubio’s presidential aspirations. Based on his surname Rubio claims the right to take ownership of the issue, even though his base is the Tea Party and the far right of the Republican Party.

Up to this point, Rubio has not had to worry about other Latin American groups. His base is in Florida among Cuban-Americans. Cubans can legally migrate to the U.S. through various programs – options that are not open to other Latin Americans.

They get special treatment and are not subject to the restrictions and caps that Mexico and other countries are. “Cubans who have been physically present in the United States for at least one year may adjust to permanent resident status at the discretion of the Attorney General—an opportunity that no other group or nationality has.”

Many Cuban refugees are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). They have received up to $637 a month — married couples $956. They are also eligible for other subsidies.

As refugees the Cuban Entrants and families with children under 18 may be eligible for cash assistance through a state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. More important they get health benefits. Cuban American organizations get special assistance from the federal and state governments.

Rubio’s duplicity has enraged Mexican Americans and other Latinos. He legitimizes the most reactionary of nativist rhetoric stating it would benefit those who broke the law, penalize the people who stood in line and got here legally and calls for tougher border control.

What Rubio shows is that Latinos in the United States are not a community. It raises other important questions such as why were Cubans allowed to cut into the line? Were they were being given preferential treatment? They received benefits that Mexicans and others have not received such free medical care, stipends or pension funds. Would life for many of undocumented immigrants have been any different if they had not been forced to go underground? If they had not been hounded, insulted and stereotyped?

The senator from Florida also calls for greater border security. Would he be so quick to ask for the same treatment for members of his own family? I don’t think so!

This is in stark contrast to the Mexican community that has done it the old fashion way, they worked for it.

It is understandable that the Mexican-American community is offended and enraged by Rubio’s statements. However, I do believe that our reaction should not include hyperbole such as calling him a gusano, although he may very well be one.

The term, however, is dated and unfair to many Cuban-Americans who have criticized and criticize the politics of the Miami Mafia. Many of the younger Cubans are breaking with the politics of reaction. The Christian Science Monitor reported: “President Obama won a record number of Cuban American votes in this election, 47 percent to Romney’s 50 percent. This is a full ten points above the previous high water mark (reached by Obama in 2008) by a Democratic politician. No longer can Cuban Americans be characterized a ‘reliable Republican’ constituency.’” The Pew Hispanic Center adds that Cuban Americans favored Obama 49-47 percent. This is a fundamental shift.

The truth be told, Rubio’s own constituency is shrinking. Cuban-Americans are not a homogenous group, and their words and actions should define them – not the sins of their grandfathers. They know that, and unlike their grandfathers they have experienced and recognize racism. In this they resemble Mexican refugees who came into the country after the start of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, many of whose great grandchildren are Chicanos. We must remember that not everybody’s’ grandfather rode with Pancho Villa.

At the same time, the Mexican-origin population should not be shy about defining protecting their own interests. Conservatively, over two-thirds of the Latino population is Mexican-origin; 75-80 percent are Middle Americans. In contrast 3.5 percent of the Latino construct is of Cuban-origin. This gap will grow with Mexican women having a median age of 24 versus 40 percent for Cuban women. It makes sense that the political, social and economic interests of the whole be addressed which is what Rubio forgets.

The picture of the immigration bill is blurred and it could become a nightmare. Something is not better than nothing. Families must be united, and the borders and human rights should not end or start at the Rio Grande. When we talk about the securing of the border we have to talk about protecting citizens on both side of the border from abuse. ICE must be controlled and repent – better still abolished.

Rubio is a bagman, and he should not be given the importance of calling him names. The worm has a useful function in our ecology. Rubio does not.

The focus should be taken away from Spanish-surname Republicans like Rubio and Ted Cruz (R-Tex). We have to remember that Cruz is a Cuban-American with a southern drawl. Like Rubio he is Tea Party poster boy. Cruz opposes the DREAM Act, advocates building a border wall and calls the deferred deportation policy for childhood arrivals illegal and unconstitutional.

Still, he was elected in Texas which has historically housed a large Mexican-origin population. Many people were surprised that he only received 35 percent of the Latino vote. I was stunned that got that many. The overwhelming portion of the Latino vote is Mexican-origin. Considering his record, how could anyone have voted for him? The fact is that he had a Spanish-surname was a factor –after all we are all Hispanic, aren’t we?

Lest cynicism get the best of us, not all non-Mexicans are bad candidates and should be considered their merits. In hind sight the Mexican label was much stronger 30 years ago when we elected a slew of Mexican-American incumbents. What our success in electing Latino candidates proved is that Mexican Americans could mess it up as much as white people.

In my estimation, Dr. Richard Carmona was as an attractive candidate as is possible in Arizona. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012. He probably should have won but the election in all probability was stolen. However, the failure of some Mexican Americans to back him probably also played a role. Carmona is of Puerto Rican background – has a history of community service.

Senators such as Rubio and Cruz are giving the Latino label a bad name thus it is more difficult to separate the good, the bad and the ugly. The interests of our community are too important to leave it to them and their ilk.

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Dr. Acuña writes various opinions on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.

Acuña: Arizona – The American Dream

by Rodolfo F. Acuña

The National Committee for Protection of Foreign Born Workers was established in 1923 in reaction to the virulent xenophobia of a Republican Congress and President toward immigrant workers, and their right to organize and strike. This campaign resulted in the Immigration Acts of 1921 and in 1924. The latter ushered in an era of racial engineering designed to keep America American, which meant not only white, but northern European and Protestant.

The protection for the foreign born movement was not new – it dated back to the 1820s as church people sought to protect Irish workers and their families. Over the years it became part of progressive thinking in the United States.

The American Dream was different in the nineteenth century. What was an American was more narrowly defined. The suffrage and birth control had a dream for equality for women, but also harbored dreams of a white –Protestant America. But even then, a progressive strain existed within these movements that had a broader and more human vision.

For example, twenty years ago I had the honor of staying at the Alma Mathews House in New York. It was part of a women’s settlement house movement that used to go down to the docks to meet boatloads of immigrants. They would compete with the pimps, and take young girls to the house and give them free lodging until they could get jobs.

Mainstream labor at first did not seek to accommodate the immigrant; its American dream was all white. Indeed, the Western Federation of Miners that had a progressive reputation discriminated against and excluded Mexican workers. The protection of foreign workers regardless of race fell almost solely on the Industrial Workers of the World.

For progressives, human rights gradually became as much part of labor as were economic rights.

The protection for the foreign born movement is much larger today, and along with the feminist and the Gay and Lesbian Rights Movements, it fights for human rights. The Dream Act struggle formally began nationally on April 25, 2001 when Representative Luis Gutiérrez introduced the “Immigrant Children’s Educational Advancement and Dropout Prevention Act of 2001.” But it is much older, and has come a long way since that time. Ownership today belongs to the Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants.

I support these three movements, although I have questions about the American Dream. When gays demanded access to ROTC, I asked why? I have the same feeling about woman demanding the right to fight in combat. Currently there are some Dreamers who are asking for the right to join the armed forces. In every case, it is part of the American Dream – of being American – of trying to prove you are an American. I wonder if this should be so, especially if the American Dream includes an imperialist foreign policy.

It is baffling that these targets of discrimination believe in the American Dream when so many of us who are citizens are disillusioned with it. Someone would say we are pessimistic or that we have suffered a loss of nationalism – maybe so!

Some people exist on dreams. It is natural for human beings to want a better life – that is why we have revolutions. Everyone whether they are brown or white wants a better life.

The American Dream has been constructed by fashion magazines, the media and motion pictures. The United States has the material trappings that most of the rest of the world lack.

It is similar to what Carey McWilliams calls the “Fantasy heritage” – the mystique surrounding California. John Steven McGroarty in Mission Memories (1929) wrote, “California was the happiest land the world had ever known. There was peace and plenty, and hospitality became a religion. Song and laughter filled the sunny mornings.” Magazines and the movies popularized this “American apotheosis.”

According to geographer Don Mitchell, the myth created a disconnect between image and reality. Mitchell used a scene from The Grapes of Wrath to demonstrate his point: The Joads travelling from Oklahoma through inhospitable land reach the crest of the Tehachapi Pass and look down at the San Joaquin Valley – the California Eden.

Pa Joad: “I never knowed there was anything like her.” Ma Joad: “Thank God! The fambly’s here.” They drive on down into the valley. As they get closer they see the suffering families of all races. Starving children; suffering of the workers — discrimination.

The “Fantasy heritage” that McWilliams talks about is the selective appropriation of historical fact. Instruments of oppression such as the missions and ranchos are romanticized. It is as if Hollywood were writing history.

When I was a child my father would tell me about life. He would grow solemn and say, “I don’t want you to make the same mistakes that I did.” He thought that if he told me his experiences I would not get hurt. Of course, I made the same mistakes; I pursued the dreams of my time.

The best way not to make mistakes is to live life, look behind the landscape, and to do that you have to get close to it. My greatest criticism of Chicana/o scholars is that like their white counterparts, they are creating impressionistic landscapes — never separating the dream from reality. They are learning history in translation. Thus, they recycle their chismes, never living or waking up, never seeing life in the original.

Not long ago a group of graduate students wanted a course on anarchism. I told them to go to anarchist meetings; you can never know an environment without knowing what is behind the landscape.

It is not that you acquire knowledge solely by doing. Literature, history and the arts all add to your appreciation of what you see.

Reading the works of Spanish dramatist Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s (1600-1681) informed me. ”La vida es sueño” told me a lot about life (dreams).

La vida es sueño” is about Segismundo, a Polish prince, who is banished to a prison when he is born – a prophesy tells the king that his son, Segismundo, will be a cruel king. He sends the infant to prison. When he reaches adulthood, the king relents. He brings him to the court and tells him the truth. Segismundo drunk with power and anger, acts out the prophesy. The horrified king drugs the prince, and returns him to the prison. When he awakens he does not know whether he is dreaming or awake,

o sueño que estoy aquí
de estas prisiones cargado,
y soñé que en otro estado
más lisonjero me vi.
¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí.
¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
una sombra, una ficción,
y el mayor bien es pequeño:
que toda la vida es sueño,
y los sueños, sueños son
I dream that I am here
by these gaols burdened,
and I dreamed that in another condition
happier I saw myself.
What is life? A frenzy.
What is life? An illusion,
A shadow, a fiction,
And the greatest good puny is;
For life entire is a dream,
And the dreams, nothing but dreams are.

Segismundo is freed by his father’s enemies, and he defeats his father in battle. As he is about to kill the king, he relents, what if it is all a dream: “if a dream taught me this wisdom, and if I still fear I may wake up and find myself once more confined in prison? And even if this should not happen, merely to dream it is enough. For this I have come to know, that all human happiness finally ceases, like a dream.”

But, if we don’t wake up, how can we tell if it is a dream or real? Our dreams may very well turn out to be nightmares for others.

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Dr. Acuña writes various opinions on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.