[Previously by Chilton Williamson: Do Illegal Immigrants Have More Rights Than Americans? The Case of John Petrello and Lighting the Powder Train]
In July 2004, First Data Corporation, a major Wall Street company, [contact them] hosted one of a series of around-the-nation seminars on immigration reform in Denver, where the company is based. Among First Datas affiliates is Western Union, whose wires transmit tens of billions of dollars in remittances sent home by illegal aliens residing in this country, thereby generating enormous profits for First Data.
Needless to say, by immigration reform First Data means open bordersas do the aggressive Hispanic activists it invited to participate in the seminar, while excluding bona fide reformers like Fred Elbel and Mike McGarry of the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform.
In the event, a number of immigration non-enthusiastsincluding McGarry and Elbelshowed up to claim their place at the audiences microphone. Among them was Terry Graham. She was later reported as having protested: This is illegal, what about the law?
Scarcely had she uttered the vile challenge when one Julissa Molina, a 31-year old social worker who instructs the inhabitants of Denvers Little Mexico in hepatitis prevention, attacked the woman, knocking her to the floor and inflicting real injury.
Molina was arrested by the city police and led away in cuffsto the anger of the crowd that shouted You deserve it! at the victim and Go back to Ireland! at McGarry.
It was later assured by a female Hispanic attorney (and former state senator) that she, personally, would take care of the [attacker] and [see that] nothing would happen to her.
This minor episode in the annals of multicultural America is significant, for two reasons.
First reason: what it has to tell us about the way whitebread American natives are viewed by the brownbread aliens from south of the border.
Second reason: what we can learn from this occurrenceand similar onesabout the political culture of the people we are currently importing, by the tens of millions, from the Republic of Mexico?
Ive been reading up recently on the Mexican Civil War in connection with an historical novel Im at work on. The war began in 1910, with Francisco Maderos overthrow of Porfírio Díaz. It ended (officially) with the accession of Alvaro Obregón to the presidency in 1920, although though hostilities persisted until the assassination of Obregón himself by a rightwing Catholic in 1928.
It is a fascinating story, viscerally human in outline as well as in detail, decorated by large and colorful characters who, for all their brutality, are (most of them) far from being unsympathetic ones. Francisco (Pancho) Villa in particular, despite his cruel and even sadistic aspect, was in many ways a great man. So was Emiliano Zapata, though he confined his operations largely to the patria chica (Little fatherland)his own tiny but beloved state of Morelos in central Mexico.
Yet Villa, Zapata, Obregón, Madero, Pascual Orozco, and Venustiano Carranza are all of them distinguishably Mexican heroes. In the context of American political history and culture, these mens heroic deeds would be regarded as heinous and nearly unspeakable crimes. They would be rewarded not by high office, devoted popular followings, stone columns, and marble sepulchers but rather by swift apprehension, trial, and execution.
The Mexican Civil War was incomparably more bloody and barbaric than the American War Between the States, though that was bloody and (thanks to the Union butchers) barbaric enough. In Mexico, there was torture, mutilation, massacre. The two conflicts took place on unrelated cultural and moral planes.
Abraham Lincoln barely survived the hostilities before being shot to death. But of the six great figures to dominate the Mexican Civil War, each and every one was assassinated by his political enemies. In the American tradition, assassination is the exception rather than the rule; in the Mexican one, it is the rule, not the exception.
That, it seems to me, is because Mexican politics has always preferred instant gratification to self-control in dealing with political opponents, the short-term solution to the long one in sorting out complex difficulties of state, andalwaysthe short-cut to political freedom (or anything else, for that matter). Villas unspoken maxim could have been, When in doubt, shoot. In Mexican political culture, to disagree has always been to killor be killed.
The revolution in Mexico never amounted to social revolution of the ideological variety, nor was it a generalized insurrection throughout the whole of Mexico. It was waged, instead, by a number of generals and their mostly private armies, whenever those commanders chose to fight and wherever they happened to be when they discovered what they considered a strategically promising target: Juárez, Chihuahua City, Parral, Durango, Torreón, Veracruz, Agua Prieta, Mexico City. Their armies lived off the country, requisitioning food and supplies and empressing men as the need occurred. Chihuahua State in particular was turned into a wasteland well before revolutions endchiefly by Villa and his villistas, whose home base it was.
What strikes the Anglo-Saxon reader, however, is less the general mayhem and destruction than the individual acts of gratuitous cruelty and barbarism: acts committed by men against others who were their own compatriots, after all, not foreign invaders.
From a revolutionary time replete with atrocities, a number of gruesome incidents are simply unforgettable.
One of these is the murder in 1913 of Gustavo Madero, brother of President Madero who was himself about to be assassinated by the brutal General Huerta in the coup that deposed him.
Huerta, having invited Gustavo to lunch at an elegant Mexico City restaurant at the height of the political crisis, suddenly pointed a revolver at his chest and informed him that he was under arrest. Charged with treason, Madero insisted on his innocence, as well as on his privileged status as a member of Congress.
A wealthy businessman named Ocón, who had been at the heart of the coup conspiracy and now presumed to act as Maderos judge, delivered a vicious blow to his face, saying, This is how we respect your privileges, before condemning Madero to death. When Huertas soldiers attacked Madero as he was being led away, he lunged at themwhereupon one of the soldiers drew his sword and stabbed Madero in his only good eye, thus blinding him completely.
At the sight of their victim staggering about with his hand over the ruined socket and hemorrhaging profusely, the soldiers burst into violent laughter, interspersed with taunts and curses.
Blinded as he was, Madero was still strong enough to resist Ocón as the thug took him outside to face the firing squad. As Madero attempted finally to jerk himself free, Ocón fired over twenty rounds from his gun into the prisoners body.
Appalled by what he had just witnessed, a functionary of the National Palace rashly swore on the spot to avenge Franciscoand for his temerity was ordered by Ocón to be taken out and shot by the firing squad in the dead mans place.
No-one was ever indicted for these crimes.
To put it mildly, the murder of Gustavo Madero is entirely foreign to the political culture of the United States.
Whether it is totally incompatible with Julissa Molinas brand of politics is, perhaps, a question worth asking.
Chilton Williamson Jr. [email him] is the author of The Immigration Mystique: Americas False Conscience and an editor and columnist for Chronicles Magazine, where he writes the The Hundredth Meridian column about life in the Rocky Mountain West.