TRUMP 2024: tear down the wall!
You think that’s weird? Well, maybe you haven’t heard that conservatives like immigrants now. A few anyway.
The reliably red New York Post celebrated “the great migration of voters with ancestry in Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, etc. to conservative radio and the Republican Party.”
Heritage Foundation Fellow Mike Gonzalez cited “the recent hubbub over Jill Biden comparing Hispanics to tacos, the purchase of conservative Spanish-language radio stations with George Soros money, and the brave campaigns of four GOP Latinas. in Texas and Virginia,” as evidence “of something deeper and perhaps more enduring than progressives care to admit.
There’s a lot of silly smoke here. Biden simply made a linguistic blunder, which Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump did once or twice… an hour!
But there’s also a lot of fire lefties have to worry about.
Some people (me, for example) have been shouting for years that Democrats better stop assuming that all immigrants think and vote like NYU graduate students. And speaking of whimsical academics, they might finally – albeit reluctantly – get the message.
“At a time when we talk so much about the rise of conservatism and the so-called Hispanic Republican, there is also a legacy of progressivism, radicalism among Mexican immigrant communities,” Kelly Lytle Hernandez recently said in the NPR show “Fresh Air.”
Lytle Hernandez is a professor at UCLA. She also received a so-called MacArthur “genius” scholarship.
But the headline here is his acknowledgment that some communities in the United States were not actually born radical. Nor do they remain committed to progressive struggle all their lives. It’s actually an argument that needs to be debated and won over and over again.
Lytle Hernandez could get help from the Irish.
His new book is titled “Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands.” It’s about the Mexican Revolution of 1910, when immigrant rebels in the United States “organized thousands of Mexican workers and American dissidents to overthrow a 30-year-old dictatorship” in Mexico, as NPR noted.
Lytle Hernandez herself added that she was inspired by Trump’s anti-immigration speeches.
“When President Trump used this rhetoric of mocking, denigrating, and calling Mexican immigrants so-called bad men, one, I knew he was denigrating the efforts of many people to improve their lives through the migration. But he was also brewing a very dangerous pot of rhetoric that has been used against Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans for over a century,” she said.
It is, without a doubt, a fascinating story. But also familiar, to anyone who knows their Irish American history.
Take the “border war” that Irish immigrants also waged directly on American soil. After the American Civil War, when the country was weary of death and bloodshed, the Irish Fenians nevertheless launched a long invasion of Canada, hoping that it would lead to the overthrow of the British Empire.
Irish immigrants were harshly criticized for waging their old world wars in the new world. As they were for decades afterwards, when they continued to raise funds and collect arms for the fight against the British, until the Easter Rising of 1916, which most would say academics, would not have been possible without the organization in the United States.
For years, Republicans have pushed the myth that yesterday’s immigrants were much better off than today’s.
And progressives have turned around and pushed the myth that “Irish Catholic” has always been synonymous with right-wing conservatives.
All of this leaves many Americans with the bland impression that immigrants are quietly going about their business.
Ironically, thinkers like Lytle Hernandez — dubbed a “rebellious historian” by NPR — might serve his cause better by reminding Americans that it was not just Mexicans, but Irish Catholics, who backed the revolution right here in the United States. United.
(On Twitter: @TomDeignan)
*This column first appeared in the July 20 edition of the weekly Irish Voice, sister publication to IrishCentral.