La Raza v. Los Anglos
Print Friendly and PDF
From the New York Times:
More than 5,000 Latinos from community groups came to the conference of NCLR, the nation’s largest Hispanic organization, which is also known as the National Council of La Raza. Facing fading momentum in Washington on immigration, the leaders said they were heading to the fight this fall with their rank and file intensely motivated and more united than ever.

“Fear, denigration, abuse: those are words that resonate with our community, particularly when it comes to immigration,” Janet Murguía, the president of NCLR, said in a speech on Monday.

She said the travails of millions of immigrants without legal status were widely affecting Latino neighborhoods, making them feel besieged the way African-Americans did during the civil rights era of the 1960s. [ Latino Leaders Planning Push for Immigration Bill]

It's interesting that the National Council of La Raza appears to be hoping in the future to just go by their acronym NCLR, although that might not please the the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

With La Raza in the news again, it's worth looking at the thought of Mexican philosopher José Vasconcelos Calderon, whose 1925 book La Raza Cosmica is the well-spring of the Mexican ethnoracial ideology reflected in NCLR's last two initials.

Vasconcelos was, as you'd imagine, more of a white Hispanic than George Zimmerman is.

Here's a long essay denouncing Vasconcelos as a racist, even as a Nazi for taking German money to write anti-English essays during WWII.

Wikipedia offers a few quotes from Vasconcelos, including this regrettable effusion immediately following the English defeat at Dunkirk:

"Hitler, although he disposes of absolute power, finds himself a thousand leagues from Caesarism. Power does not come to Hitler from the military base, but from the book that inspires the troops from the top. Hitler's power is not owed to the troops, nor the battalions, but to his own discussions... Hitler represents, ultimately, an idea, the German idea, so often humiliated previously by French militarism and English perfidy. Truthfully, we find civilian governed 'democracies' fighting against Hitler. But they are democracies in name only". ("La Inteligencia se impone", Timon 16, June 8, 1940)
I think it's fairer to say that Vasconcelos just really disliked Anglo-Saxons, and saw himself, in fortifying the post-Revolutionary Mexican government's anti-Americanism and in attacking Britain in June 1940, as continuing the long struggle between Spanish and English civilizations that goes back to Henry VIII's mistreatment of his first wife Katharine of Aragon.

Growing up, Vasconcelos lived on the Mexican bank of the Rio Grande, but attended school across the river in Eagle Pass, Texas. Americans widely assume that to know us is to love us, but that's not necessarily true, especially for young male intellectuals.

Vasconcelos wrote:

How different the sounds of the Ibero-American development [from that of the Anglo-Saxons]! They resemble the profound scherzo of a deep and infinite symphony: Voices that bring accents from Atlantis; depths contained in the pupil of the red man, who knew so much, so many thousand years ago, and now seems to have forgotten everything. His soul resembles the old Mayan cenote [natural well] of green waters, laying deep and still, in the middle of the forest, for so many centuries since, that not even its legend remains any more. This infinite quietude is stirred with the drop put in our blood by the Black, eager for sensual joy, intoxicated with dances and unbridled lust. There also appears the Mongol, with the mystery of his slanted eyes that see everything according to a strange angle, and discover I know not what folds and newer dimensions.

The clear mind of the White, that resembles his skin and his dreams, also intervenes. Judaic striae hidden within the Castilian blood since the days of the cruel expulsion now reveal themselves, along with Arabian melancholy, as a remainder of the sickly Muslim sensuality. Who has not a little of all this, or does not wish to have all? There is the Hindu, who also will come, who has already arrived by way ofthe spirit, and although he is the last one to arrive, he seems the closest relative ...

A Brazilian intellectual, Gilberto Freyre, came up with a similar but mulatto rather than mestizo oriented theory, Lusotropicalism, that was adopted by the rightist Salazar dictatorship of Portugal to justify holding on to Angola and Mozambique. (In contrast to the Spanish, the Portuguese traditionally got along with the English, to keep from being overwhelmed by their Iberian neighbor.)

Vasconcelos observed, with some acuity:

"Each of the great nations of History has believed itself to be the final and chosen one. [...] The English found theirs on observations relative to domestic animals. From the observation of cross-breeding and hereditary varieties in such animals, Darwinism emerged. First, as a modest zoological theory, then as social biology that confers definitive preponderance to the English above all races. Every imperialism needs a justifying philosophy". (La raza cósmica, 1948)
I've harped on the same point, that Darwinism-Galtonism is an outgrowth of smart, rich country boys breeding animals, a field in which the British led the world from the 18th Century onward.

The triumph of British ideas like Darwinism was not unconnected with the triumph of British horse racing. It's not a coincidence that the various Jockey Clubs founded in 19th Century continental Europe and Argentina were centers of Anglophile sentiment. Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, and its hero Phineas Fogg (played by David Niven in the movie), is the purest expression of modernizing 19th Century Continental admiration for the sporting English gentleman, a sentiment which Vasconcelos did not much share.

Ironically, this nearly 500 year old Hispanic annoyance at Anglo presumption has taken on new life with the current Cuban putsch within the Republican Party over immigration.

Print Friendly and PDF