The violence has to stop. It won’t stop on its own; people have to act.
It’s time to say Basta! — enough!
Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso touched the Rio Grande Valley. Pharr-San Juan-Alamo graduate Leonardo Campos Jr. and his wife Maribel were among the 22 people killed in the rampage; more than two dozen others were injured.
Investigators say the suspect targeted Hispanics, and drove more than 600 miles from the Dallas area to El Paso, and it isn’t clear why he picked that city. Given the recent attention the Valley has received with visits by Vice President Mike Pence, Congress members and other officials, he might just as well have decided to head south instead of west.
Previous mass shootings have been random or targeted other groups — blacks, Muslims, Jews, people with non-traditional lifestyles — but it probably was just a matter of time. But animosity toward Hispanics is nothing new. Lou Dobbs and Pat Buchanan railed against Latino immigrants decades ago, falsely alleging they stole jobs and welfare dollars and refused to learn English or assimilate into Anglo society. In 2008 California Congressman Tom Tancredo Sr. came to this area and declared that the border wall should be built north of the Rio Grande Valley. Woody Guthrie was writing songs about the mistreatment of Mexican farm workers back in 1948.
Traditionally Hispanics have endured the abuse, knowing that it comes from a small, albeit vocal and sometimes violent minority. But now that people are driving long distances to kill large groups of people, the time for stoicism might be over.
Basta ya! It’s time to act.
It’s time for Hispanics to fight false racist claims and assert the truth: Somos Americanos: Many Latinos are descendants of people who lived in New Spain long before it became part of the United States. When people tell them to go back to where they came from, they’re already there.
Somos patriotas: Hispanics have always been among the first volunteers willing to fight for this country; as local historian Jack Ayoub frequently points out, those contributions go all the way back to the U.S. Revolutionary War. To this day, Hispanic representation in U.S. armed forces is higher than any other demographic group. Relative to their share of the overall population, more Hispanics have earned the Medal of Honor than any other group.
Somos contribuidores: According to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, since 2011 Hispanicowned businesses have grown at a rate that doubles or even triples the national average, contributing more than $700 billion per year to the national economy.
Hispanic leaders, in the political, entertainment, business and sports realms, should arm themselves with these and other facts, and assert their contributions as one of many rich, beautiful colors and textures that weave into America’s social tapestry.
Such facts stand on their own; there’s no need for spitting contests against those who benefit from falsehoods.
It’s time to be assertive without responding to the violence.
We’ve had too much of that already.
Valley Morning Star