It seems as if “Identity Politics” has no nadir, and a new tale of “social justice” (i.e. “political demands”) appears to support that theory. But as it frustrates and angers, perhaps it offers thoughtful people the opportunity to critically examine not just the idea of tax-funded “reparations” for ancient state activities, but what state-based so-called “reparations” show us about government itself.
A book titled, Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism, written by University of California Los Angeles School of Law professor, Laura Gomez, is advocating for the United States to provide reparations for the Latino community.
Which, at the outset, presents a few definitional questions.
First, what is “Latino?”
According to Daniel Alvarenga, of Medium, “Latinx” or the weird sounding, gender neutral term for “Latino” and “Latina” applies to…
Someone who can trace their heritage to at least one of 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Portuguese-speaking Brazil. This identity is tied to geography and excludes Spain.
He also notes the fascinating origin of the term “Latin America” arising from:
(A) term coined by the French as Amerique Latine.’ It signified places colonized by people of Latin descent who speak Romance languages like Spanish, Portuguese and French. This is why Haiti, colonized by France, is often included in the definition of Latin America.
And that geographical/historical characteristic stands in contrast to “Hispanic,” which is based on one’s heritage being tied to folks who mainly speak the Spanish language.
Someone whose heritage includes Spanish-speaking people — from anywhere, including Spain. This identity is tied to language and excludes Brazil. For some, this term further emphasizes the colonization of Spain in Latin America.
And, to further complicate matters, get this:
Hispanic first appeared on the census in 1970. Before then, Hispanic and Latinx people were classified as white, and by their country of origin. Grassroots activists and Spanish-language broadcasters spearheaded the campaign to make ‘Hispanic’ a widely used term, but for different reasons.
All of which presents us with a major logical problem, even if we accept the flawed premise of government “reparations” for historically recorded wrongs.
Ms. Gomez is advocating for reparations directed at a so-called “Latino community,” but, even though the term “Latino” can be defined, the “Latino community” is simply an amorphous left-wing touchy-feely term that collapses when scrutinized.
This so-called “community” is composed of nation-states that not only have seen their borders change over generations, they saw people fighting over those borders, killing, and conquering each other.
For example, between 600 BC and 900 AD, the originally pre-Mayan Tikal people were based in what is now delineated by new borders under the name Guatemala, and they fought the Calakmul people located in what is now Mexico at least three times between 537 and 744 AD.
By the 16th Century, the Incans had taken lands covering most of the western coast of South America.
And this doesn’t even take into consideration more recent boundary changes and conflicts between nations such as Chile, Bolivia, and Peru in the late 19th Century, so how, exactly, is this a “Latino community?”
And how far back should reparations go? Is there some invisible chain of guilt that can tie contemporary people who never harmed others to their ancestors AND to non-relatives who might have lived in those nation-states or tribes, or, on any given day, been mean to someone, but then might have been nice?
How is this to be quantified?
It’s probably not a good idea to look for any answers from Ms. Gomez. In fact, like many folks who push identity politics, the culture of victimization is what she seems to prefer as her focus.
According to Gomez’s website, the main theme of the book, as described from an excerpt from the introduction, is ‘the how and why of Latinx identity becoming a distinctive racial identity.’ Furthermore, it says, ‘this book explains how and why Latinos became cognizable as a racial group— a racial group that is Other and inferior to Whites.’
And while it’s sad and troubling to see her perpetuate racial division and the individuality-destroying concept of perpetual stereotyping and victim-cloaking, she begins to make a point when addressing questions in a UCLA interview, saying:
’Thankfully, we’re talking a lot more about reparations to African Americans. I think that’s a long-overdue conversation. How do we repair the damage that racism has done?’ she said, adding that ‘because of the way that American military, government, and corporations infiltrated Central America and destroyed the indigenous way of life, and slaughtered so many people…
While the idea of reparations is highly suspect, she makes some valid points about United States meddling in Central and South America. Heck, the very term “Banana Republic” stems from U.S. military and intel operations conducted in Honduras and Nicaragua between 1903 and 1925 on behalf of the huge banana-seller, the United Fruit Company.
But, as noted before, even if the government of the U.S. engaged in unlawful activities back then, how are current citizens culpable for the actions of those politicians and military members?
In fact, how were many Americans who didn’t vote for any of the politicians of that era, who were, in fact, forced to pay taxes under penalty of legal action, culpable in any way?
This, in fact, is where Ms. Gomez’ proposal offers us an opportunity to learn a deeper lesson about the fraudulent status of all governments and all calls for “reparations” to be provided by government.
More to the point, by suggesting the idea that historically-cited foreign victims of US aggression -- people who never took part in US elections and who just wanted to be left alone -- should be paid for their troubles, Ms. Gomez allows us to see how her “reparations” would be paid: by the government victimizing innocent people who just want to be left alone.
And she lets us see that this is precisely how government always operates.
Government is forced on people. People are forced to pay or the state will arrest them and threaten them with physical harm should they resist arrest.
If Gomez claims that innocents abroad or their descendants in the US should be paid by people who never harmed them, then is that not new victimization through government force?
And isn’t the only way government gets its cash through the involuntary servitude of taxpayers?
If one accepts her idea for reparations, then will she apply her standard such that current taxpayers will receive theirs?
Gomez likely won’t answer that, but she has one more point, which doesn't pertain so much to financial reparations...
(P)eople in Central America should get asylum here, like we had asylum for the Vietnamese, for Cubans. We must allow those folks in.
That’s an idea that could lead to fruitful conversation.
But one thing is certain. Ms. Gomez doesn’t understand that real reparations can only come through torts, person-to-person, through one aggrieved person making a claim against another. Implying that today’s generation is guilty of the sins of previous generations is flawed and immoral, and involving the state immediately makes innocent others liable to pay.
The key takeaway is that there is no logical or moral basis to claim that citizens of a nation give their consent to what politicians do with their forcefully expropriated cash. The very act of insinuating such a belief is unjust.
Just like the taking of the cash in the first place.