"Bigotry, An American Heritage"
By John Pérez-Sampedro
When I was a young man growing up in New York, I often heard people say " I hate Negroes or Jews or Speaks" and they expressed their views on the subject freely and with a certain pride. But things have changed, new laws as well as a new social perspective about the evils of discrimination, have forced those outspoken people into a hibernation of a sort. At least then, we new what to expect from people. Today's bigots are more numerous and sophisticated and though less articulate, their venom is more destructive. They have become experts in the subtle art of discrimination and their target is increasingly larger. You can find them in every street of America, they could be well off, middle class or poor. They could be illiterate or well educated, they also could be Blacks, Jews, Hispanics or "real Americans."
The American Heritage of discrimination goes back a long way. Most tribes of American Indians did not get along with each other. The Spaniards came first, then the English, followed by the Germans, the Irish and the Italians, but as a new wave of European immigration arrived to the New World, they were discriminated by their predecessors, until they in turn melted and became part of the Big Pot, which has made this country the greatest in the world.
The rule was simple, speak English call yourself American and put down the new immigrants. Of course, no matter who's turn it was to discriminate, they never forgot to hate the Jews and the Blacks. These two minorities have one thing in common. They both maintained their cultural infrastructure, thus a high profile. The Jews through their religious believes and their clan like behavior. The Blacks, well the color of their skin is high profile enough, but also their southern accent, even if they were born in boston, their search for an African identity, they lost centuries ago, but most of all, their rejection of a system that still perceive them as inferior. Is interesting to note that while the "real Americans" discriminate Blacks, among other reasons, because of an infantile perception of inferiority, on the other hand they reject the Jews because of an equally infantile perception of superiority.
Fear and ignorance seams to be the underlying factor in discrimination. White America fears the Blacks because they might: a: marry their women, b- move next door and lower their property value or c- become unwanted role models for their children and all that, while they buy their CDs and cheer them at the sports arenas and the olympiads. In the mean time, those smart Jewish lawyers and entrepreneurs are buying the town and smiling all the way to the bank. The truth is that the "real Americans" will not accept anyone who does not readily melts in The Pot , which brings us to the Cubans.
Based on the rules of the game, It is the Hispanic's turn to be discriminated, after all, they are the new wave of immigrants. Its their turn to be put down. What is not natural or at least does not follow the old pattern, is the deep rejection of Cubans not just by the "real Americans" but also by many Blacks and Jews and unexpectedly, by a majority of their "brothers" from Latin America. A recent survey places the Cubans at the top of the hate list, a distinction well deserved. Lets examine why: For the most part, Cubans are very high profile, outspoken and loud. For over 45 years the Cuban exiles have being engaged in an ill funded. disorganized and futile effort to convince the average American that Castro is not a Rodin Hood, but a Brutal, dangerous criminal and a real threat to their national security. On the other hand, the well funded and well organized communist's propaganda machine, helped portrait the exiles, specially the Miami Cubans, as Drug Lords, Terrorists and Fanatics. The result of the survey in question, is the best proof of the communist's success. But there is more to it than just the propaganda of discredit orchestrated by this benevolent "Robin Hood". The " real Americans" can't forgive the Cuban exiles for their economic success and their political clout. "How dare them teach their children's children the love for Cuba". "How dare them try to keep alive their Hispanic heritage"? "How dare them threaten this country's national security, speaking Spanish at home and even in public places"? Of course, If a "real American" hears someone speak French or Italian, they must be tourists . "How dare them refuse to melt after 45 years?. Enough is enough.
On the other hand, their Latin "brothers" to the south could not forgive them either. They find the Cubans to proud and arrogant "How dare them become successful business men starting from zero? How dare them become American Citizens and build a political clout in Florida and the Federal Government? How dared them turn a small winter town into a prosperous and thriving metropolis and then have the nerve of claiming credit for it? . The Cubans are paying a high price for "Such arrogance" During the saga of Elian Gonzalez, a majority of Latin-Americans took the side of Castro and openly expressed their opposition to the Cuban exiles. At election time, most Latin-Americans choose to ignore our political clout in the republican party by voting for democrats. Inexplicably, they vote against the same Cuban politicians that speak their language, sympathize with their problems and have sponsored immigration laws that benefit them.
Contrary to the Cubans, Most Latin Americans are ready and glad to be melted in the American Pot and most, label the Cubans "Super Cubans" and fanatics, but in most cases, their love for this country is directly and proportionately related to their pockets.
Back in the 50's, when the only known Cubans were Desi Arnaz and Cesar Romero, there were no restrictions for Cubans to enter the United States, and there were more Americans in the Island than Cubans in the U.S. The love of Cubans for the United States was common knowledge, and everyone laughed when Rickie Ricardo spoke Spanish in national television. Of course Spanish was not a threat to their national security then.
Some Jewish people have expressed objections to the labeling of the Cuban tragedy as a Holocaust. Yet, comparing the number of Cubans killed and displaced by Castro with relation to the 5-1/2 million Cuban population in 1958 to the number of Jews killed and displaced by Hitler with relation to the Jews population in Europe in 1940, the Cuban tragedy is large enough to be called a Holocaust.
Some Blacks don't like Cubans because they have taken their jobs and made inroads into their traditional political territories. In general, most Blacks, Jews and "real Americans" perceive all Latins in the Easter Seaboard as Cubans. I imagine they must do the same in the West coast, and consider all Latins Mexicans. Generally speaking, the knowledge of foreign cultures and Geography, were never strong subjects in the United States.
Some day, the Cuban Holocaust will end and many Cubans will return to the Island, and many Americans as well, including some "real" ones, and they will be welcomed once again. The Cuban's children's children will eventually melt in The Big Pot and another wave of immigrants will take their turn at the bottom of the totem pole. I hope the melted Cubans of that time will be more tolerant than the "real Americans" of today, although I doubt it, after all, that is the American Heritage.