Richard Rodriguezs Stream of Consciousness By Victor Davis Hanson

On Wednesday Victor Davis Hanson responded to Richard Rodriguez’s Monday article Mexicans in America. Here is a teaser of what his response contained:

At this point the only thing missing was the tired La Raza mythologizing about “Gringos” who “stole” Mexican land—and, then, of course it too appeared, sort of at least. But if it is to be a question of theft rather than tragedy, Mexico took the American Southwest from Spain, who lifted it from Indians, and so on back to Neanderthal times—as is the way with most of the history of our aggressive species.

Yet what is odd, from a military and historical view, about the Mexican War and its aftermath, is not that conquering armies the world over regrettably annex land, but that after invading and occupying central Mexico, the United States wanted little of it, acquired only a small sparsely populated part of its northern territory, tried to legalize the transaction, and then had a fierce national debate over the morality of it all. If he wishes to return to the 19th century, Rodriquez could do better by exploring its ironic legacy: recent polls of Mexicans revealed two contradictory sentiments: most expressed a desire to leave and emigrate to the United States, but a near majority also thought that our Southwest does—and should—belong to Mexico. An Orwellian corollary then follows: should El Norte return to Mexico, then many Mexicans would not wish to escape to El Norte?

Personally, I don’t really like the ‘U.S. stole Mexican land’ argument, I expect that sort of thing from the average Chicano Studies student because, after all, they are always trying to be the poor victim in all disputes, but not from Richard Rodriguez. He always seemed, to me atleast, to be above those childish statements. Needless to say, I was happy to see Hanson respond so forcefully to that argument.

All in all, a great back and forth. I still think that Richard Rodriguez made some really good arguments and Victor Davis Hanson responded charitably. Either way, it’s a must read discussion about a topic that often times never happens or when it does, it gets far too heated and partisan to be of any use. Victor Davis Hanson’s response can be found here.

25 Responses to “Richard Rodriguezs Stream of Consciousness By Victor Davis Hanson”

  • The issue of land simply reminds us that Mexico does have a history of being colonized, of being taken advantage of by its northern neighbor. In other academic terms, oppressed. Its a way of generating simpathy.

    Taking northern Mexico from the Spanish is a technicality based on their colonial status at the time. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the U.S. territory in a deal made with the French. Whoever the temporary powerholder might have been at the time, on the ground, the Mexicans got shafted.

    Clearly no one is going to give back any land. Probably most Chicano studies students bring it up out of rebellion and solidarity with an indigenous history that got squashed by colonization. I don’t see anything wrong with that if it helps someone create an identity for themselves. But when U.S. Americans say “get over it,” it also doesn’t do much to advance dialogue either. It implies that it was justified.

  • Punkie Brewdrinker

    Frankly, I’m glad Dick Rodriguez is acting like he’s finally gotten a clue. Instead of clowning, HP, you should be taking notes. When he espouses and expresses his sell-out convictions, he’s your boy, yet when he gives voice to the universally admitted “myth” of “El Norte” (clowny-smurf Spanish ref noted), he’s no better than an “average chicano studies major”? Hater.

  • I’m not even sure who Richard Rodriguez is but if he is somebody who knows his history and understands mistakes from the past, then I have respect for him. I don’t think anybody seriously expects or even wants the Mexican government to take over the Southwestern United States of America. I think the only thing we want is our story to be heard and understood, and not to be repeated again. It’s the same for the Native Americans. It’s the same for virtually every victim of colonial aggression. And yes, I said victim, but as I said I’m not asking for anything other than the truth. When you see a Mexican person waving a Mexican flag, singing a traditional song, or referencing an icon from modern or ancient Mexico; they are not worshipping the current Mexican political system, rather, they are celebrating their culture. There is a big difference between culture and political nationalism (which are almost homogenous in the USA.)

  • Nathan,

    Yes, but remember, ‘stealing land’ was a ‘wrong’ that everybody is guilty of. Which is why Hanson wrote, But if it is to be a question of theft rather than tragedy, Mexico took the American Southwest from Spain, who lifted it from Indians, and so on back to Neanderthal times—as is the way with most of the history of our aggressive species..

    There is a reason why other Indians played a big part in toppling the Aztecs – to some degree everybody was guilty of it. So to bring it up is to complain about something that everybody is guilty of, hence the victim mentality.

  • HP, I’m surprised by such a liberal perspective. War between tribes is very common in the world, as well as taking land by force (like pioneering the US). But to say that there is no “right” or “wrong” in these matters is somewhat amoral, that is, without moral judgement.

    Prior to the Spanish takeover, Mexico wasn’t officially a united country. After the Spanish claimed had it “officially,” the Mexicans had their revolution to throw off the colonial power. Mexico didn’t “take” the land from Spain, they took it back. Your theory of neutralizing any sense of right and wrong from land dealings is frightening. Why not invade and takeover any country at this very moment? As I understand it, you wouldn’t have a problem with it because it is “natural?” Wow.

  • Nathan,

    Who said But to say that there is no “right” or “wrong” in these matters is somewhat amoral, that is, without moral judgement? I certainly didn’t. Re-read what I wrote above, I specifically said it was a ‘wrong’…

    My only point is that it is a wrong that everybody is guilty of. You say, Mexico didn’t “take” the land from Spain, they took it back, ah, but again, what about the Indians? ‘Mexico’, and by Mexico you mean the union of Spanish and Indian blood, took the land from the Indians. Oh wait though, but even they took land from each other (remember, Cortez had many Indian partners who shared a common hatred for the Aztecs, arguably the biggest land thieves)…and on and on goes the story of history.

    It’s a historical fact that property rights in the past meant ‘the right of conquest’, nothing more nothing less. Today we find that morally repugnant, and that’s fine, but if you are going to judge a country of the past by todays morals you have to do so evenly and when you do that you see that all countries and all people are guilty of it. The United States is, the Mexicans are, and yes, even the Indians.

    Today we obviously don’t follow ‘the right of conquest’, so a country doing so today will be judged by a different standard. But in the past that certainly was the case and so you have to judge all countries and all people equally by it, and when you do that, you realize that everybody was ‘wrong’. Hence the victim mentality by those in Chicano Studies, implying that they are somehow guilty free of such a morally repugnant act (what I find even more entertaining is when the ‘USA stole land from Mexico’ argument is made by a light skinned, sometimes even blue eyed ‘Mexican’, ah the depths of liberal brainwashing….but that’s another story for another day).

  • Ok, to clarify, you’re saying that ALL land transferred with some display of force is “wrong.” Everyone is guilty of taking land from someone (I don’t agree with your stick-figure analysis of Mexican ethnicity, many of said “indians” were not mestizo), you don’t think there were any justified takeovers? It was morally wrong for Mexico to overthrow Spain?

    I think you must have some other problem with Chicano Studies students and this is just a rational to confuse them. Do you really think that the U.S. fairly aquired the Mexico’s northern territory? I’m not sure how a blue-eyed Mexican guerito critiquing historical U.S. foreign policy constitutes liberal brainwashing.

  • To clarify, I am saying,

    1. It is wrong now, given todays ethics, to forcibly take land from someone and make it your own

    2. Up until the 20th century, the ‘right of conquest‘ was the prevailing ethic, and the United States did nothing more to Mexico than Spain, Mexicans (native + Spanish blood) and even Indians also did at one point or another (in fact, as Hanson does above, one can make the argument that the US was more generous to Mexico than other countries and peoples of history were to the people they beat by military force…but I digress)

    3. You can’t judge history by todays ethics but if you are going to anyway, you have to judge all peoples equally – and when you do that you see that the United States was just as equally ‘unjust’ as others at worse, even a bit generous at best.

    Again, I am not saying that what the United States did to Mexico was not wrong, I am only saying that it was the same thing that Spain did to Mexicans, that Mexicans did to native americans, and that native americans did to themselves, making the point completely moot when comparing one group of people to another.

    Oh and trust me, this is just one of many problems I have with Chicano Studies….

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