What are the root causes of modern anti-Mexican sentiment in America?

What are the root causes of modern anti-Mexican sentiment in America?

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From reading Wikipedia's Anti-Mexican Sentiment Article, it appears that America's modern Hispanophobia stems from

[The] Texas Revolution and Texas annexation, [where] the United States inherited border disputes of the [[Republic of Texas]] with Mexico.

So, did American Hispanophobia start due to the aftereffects of the Texas Revolution and Texas annexation over 150 years ago?

Or is modern Anti-Mexican Sentiment not primarily a continuation of those aftereffects? If so, what is the root cause of Anti-Mexican Sentiment, then?

The Real Roots of Iranian Anti-Americanism

U.S. policymakers may want to amplify the Islamic Republic’s supposed grievances against the United States and show sophisticated understanding by apologizing and offering concessions to make amends, but this would mean embracing a distortion of history and a prioritization of perception over reality.

The 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran shocked not only Americans but also the world. It was an unprecedented event. As the embassy fell and for 444 days after, television transmitted images of raw Iranian hatred toward the United States. Footage of “Death to America” rallies became commonplace, even after the release of the hostages.

Americans immediately began to question the roots of such animosity but were perhaps too credulous as Iranian revolutionary authorities sought to leverage that sense of grievance for policy gain. When on March 17, 2000, for example, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright apologized for the U.S. role in the 1953 coup against Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mosaddegh, Iranian officials responded by demanding reparations. For many American progressives, the U.S. role in the coup was the original sin. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), for example, has repeatedly referenced Mosaddegh’s ouster as the root cause of U.S.-Iran tension. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a vocal progressive voice in Congress, concurs. Former President Barack Obama has also embraced that narrative.

Whether or not Mosaddegh’s ouster was wise, much of the conventional wisdom that leads progressives to blame America is wrong. First, it is incorrect to say the CIA replaced Mosaddegh with the shah. Mohammad Reza Shah was Iran’s constitutional ruler since 1953 (when the British orchestrated the ouster of his father due to Reza Shah’s alleged Nazi sympathies). He had the authority to dismiss the prime minister in order to form a new government as he had done several times previously at that time, it was rare that a prime minister would serve more than a year. This is why Mosaddegh’s contemporaries interpreted his refusal to abide by the constitution as the initial coup and why they described the premier’s ouster as a “countercoup.”

A greater error among progressives, however, is to assume the current Iranian regime represents aggrieved Iranians. The CIA was not alone in its opposition to Mosaddegh. The idea for his ouster was British, but the rank-and-file officers involved were from within the Iranian army and police forces. The clergy—the predecessors of Iran’s leaders today—also backed action against Mosaddegh due to their distrust of his progressive tilt. This is why, in his memoirs, the late shah referred to the dynamics of the time as the ‘red vs. the black.’ The former referred to the Tudeh, Iran’s communist party with which Mosaddegh had cordial relations while the black referred to the color of the turbans many clergies wore. The irony of Albright’s apology to the Islamic Republic, therefore, implied that she was seeking absolution from America’s co-conspirators.

A further irony for blaming the Mosaddegh ouster for subsequent anti-Americanism is the fact that a decade previously, the United States sent troops into Iran to help secure a supply route to the Soviet Union, an event few today remember but which was a far greater affront to Iranian sovereignty. (Conservatives, however, who have argued that this shows that Iranians would welcome military action are deluded Iran today is far different than it was eight decades ago and much has happened in the interim).

Progressives are correct that the shah grew more dictatorial after the restoration of his power. In 1961, his White Revolution, a program to transform Iran’s social and economic environment, sparked clerical opposition and led to the eventual exile of Ruhollah Khomeini, who would eventually lead the Islamic Revolution. That said, while many in the West began to question and criticize the shah, few objected to his efforts to make all Iranians equal under the law and enable women’s suffrage. In the decade which followed, however, the shah’s crackdowns chaffed on American liberalism. Carter-era National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski related in his memories that how “the lower echelons at State, notably the head of the Iran Desk . . . were motivated by doctrinal dislike of the Shah and simply wanted him out of power altogether.”

Even the shah’s human-rights record, however, against the backdrop of U.S. support was not enough to spark the broad anti-Americanism that the regime today embraces. The real root of anti-American sentiment, however, lies elsewhere. Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, both the United Kingdom and Russia targeted Iran with an escalating series of concessionary agreements and exploitive loans in which the shah would receive cash upfront in exchange for exclusive commercial rights in the country. In effect, it was that time’s equivalent of China’s debt entrapment today (and one reason why Iran may be more reluctant to accept loans and terms China demands than many people believe). It was actually American advisors who sought to help Iran at the time unravel Iran’s finances to enable it to preserve its independence. One aspect of the concessions that continued, however, was the diplomatic immunity that the Iranian government granted European businessmen and their families,

In the 1960s and 1970, the shah opened Iran for business, and the economy boomed. One root of the revolution was the subsequent uneven development in Iran. Most Iranians got richer, but wealth inequality also grew. That was not the fault of the United States and is a growing pain that many developing countries experience. The problem was, however, as Pepsi, Bell Helicopter, Ross Perot’s EDS, and other American firms opened in Iran, most demanded their employees to receive immunity. Iranians from the immediate post-Mosaddegh-era often talk about how family members were injured or killed in car accidents, for example, but Americans who may have been at fault were allowed to walk away without consequence. This is one reason why the Iranian-backed Iraqi militias and the political parties that sponsored them took such a hard line on immunity for U.S. forces at the tail end of the Bush-era and the beginning of the Obama administration.

The point here is that while American policymakers may want to amplify the Islamic Republic’s supposed grievances against the United States and show sophisticated understanding by apologizing and offering concessions to make amends, this would mean a distortion of history and a prioritization of perception over reality. American Enterprise Institute Jeane Kirkpatrick Fellow Wang Xiyue correctly noted in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal that “the regime’s hostility toward the U.S. isn’t reactive, but proactive, rooted in a fierce anti-Americanism enmeshed in its anti-imperialist ideology.”

That said, there is a lesson in the troubled history of America’s relationship with Iran: When rapprochement does occur, whether under the current regime as the Biden administration hopes, or in a post-Islamic Republic-era as is more likely, there will be acute sensitivity within Iran to perceptions of legal equality. This in turn suggests that no American should travel to Iran and expect privileged treatment: Iranians will demand that, should any crime occur, real or imagined, that they face the Iranian judiciary. Unless that judiciary reforms and accepts blind notions of justice and modern evidentiary standards, though, premature reconciliation could actually retard relations rather than encourage their positive development.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a frequent author for the National Interest.

A rise in narcissism could be one of the main causes of America’s political and economic crises

An increase in narcissistic personality traits has been monitored in the United States in past decades. But, the ties between America’s current crises and this phenomena may not have been debated enough. Dennis Shen tracks narcissism’s rise, the potential link to economic conditions and discusses consequences. Moreover, he notes the striking phenomena now comparably evolving in China and abroad.

In 2009, Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell published “The Narcissism Epidemic”, a haunting diagnostic detailing a gradual, but seismic shift in the nation’s cultural norm towards self-admiration. Though certainly not all the consequences of heightened self-esteem are negative, this cultural phenomenon was described as destructive to American society at an extreme: damaging the reciprocity that binds families and communities, and encouraging divisive and antisocial, short-term behaviors over long-term, collective decision-making.

Since the book’s publication, further research has supported the referenced increase in feelings of self-worth, with one nationwide data set showing twice as many American college students answering the majority of questions in a narcissistic direction in 2009 compared with in 1982. This was based on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) test, the most widely used metric on the subject in social psychology. Similar conclusions were shown in research that 59% of American college freshmen rated themselves above average in intellectual self-confidence in 2014, compared with 39% in 1966. And, generational increase in symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) was pointed to in earlier research from the National Institutes of Health.

At extremes, narcissism undermines institutions that underpin a strong society, with links to shallow values, less intellectual interest and value on hard work, aggression and relationship complications, and lack of empathy and concern for others. When we consider political or economic dilemmas, we should not avoid discussion of the role that cultural factors and social psychology might have.

A multi-generational change

In the aftermath of the Second World War, a rare consensus within America emerged, the result of existential crises in the form of the World War and looming Cold War. In an era when the United States’ hegemony was unchallenged in the West, a type of groupthink existed within the nation’s borders—the ‘Greatest Generation’ emphasized conformity and discouraged individuality. This was supported by earlier shared struggles and the decline of class differences during the Great Depression and war era. This post-war era of togetherness saw unprecedented economic stability and trust in the state as the steward of the people. The nation backed global reciprocity, exemplified during the founding of the United Nations, Bretton Woods institutions and Marshall Plan.

Authors Twenge and Campbell trace the earliest roots in narcissism back to the 1950s. The Baby Boomers were the first generation to grow up in a post-war era of greater consumer plenitude and less existential hardship. As the Baby Boomers came of age in the 1960s and 70s, the grey society of the post-war consensus had begun to vanish in favor of a more individualistic focus on self-expression and self-identity.

The problem is that this change in the narrative furthered henceforth. It became pronounced enough by the 1970s that Tom Wolfe in 1976 titled this “The ‘Me’ Decade”. The cohorts that were raised in the 70s and 80s—Generations X and Y—continued this trend: to the extent that one study comparing teenagers found that while only 12% of those aged 14-16 in the early 1950s agreed with the statement “I am an important person”, 77% of boys and more than 80% of girls of the same cohort by 1989 agreed with it. This evolution has accelerated since the 1990s and 2000s, with the rise of the internet and social media influencing the social milieu of the Millennials and Generation Z.

Cultural roots of the modern crisis

Many of the extant crises in the United States can be traced to some extent to such cultural factors and entitled behavior. The racial and ideological tensions, and consequential partisanship in Washington—which supported the election of Donald J. Trump, have been exacerbated by the self-focused and competitive behavior of separate interest groups in society and politics, with not enough of the requisite empathy to reassess the world from one another’s vantage points. The financial crisis can be explained in part by the narcissistic behaviors of bankers and consumers alike—creating a “time-delay trap” of near-term greed over long-term logic. America’s trade deficit has been exacerbated by debt-financed “conspicuous consumption”—goods purchased to elevate one’s status in front of others, rather than out of necessity. And the crisis of confidence in government can be ascribed in part to the philosophical “hunkering down” and focus on self-sufficiency, rather than on mutual dependence.

Solutions to the dilemma?

It’s critical to recall that across time there’s no single cultural norm for a nation, but rather that the behaviors and customs of a society evolve and change drastically as the experiences and personalities of that nation alter. There are significant contrasts between the America of today and that of the immediate post-war era—whether we recall this or not. In this, not only will the America of tomorrow look different as future generations come, but we ourselves will continue to readapt and change.

Methods to address narcissism are not simple, however, even if society is malleable. During times of economic growth and stability, narcissism tends to grow. This is due to how success and prosperity impacts people, how that then filters to more accommodating parenting norms, and how we’re affected by urbanization and changes to smaller family sizes. Conversely, economic hardship and economic down-cycles tend to support group-minded, non-self-centered people, by enforcing modesty and hard work. In that, there may be both an inherent cyclical dynamic between business cycles and narcissism, and a structural dynamic between economic development and narcissism—with too much societal hubris only correctable in the end through a form of economic or national crisis.

A crisis around the world

The issue has not been isolated to the United States. Rather, the evolution of narcissism has advanced around corners of the world.

In China, there’s been an economic revolution experienced within the span of half a lifetime—with hundreds of millions lifted out of poverty since 1980 and living standards transformed and modernized. But, with the economic miracle has come the sudden upheaval in former collectivistic norms. The rise of the ‘Little Emperors’ and ‘Precious Snowflakes’ is now evident in younger generations that have grown up in only-child households amongst growing economic abundance. Research notes the role of sociodemographic factors in this increase in narcissism. In the decades ahead, societal, political and economic dilemmas could manifest, if such trends in China advance absent pushback.

Looking ahead

A recognition of the problematic associations with narcissism is critical to solving domestic and international issues impacted by it. In addition, greater attention needs to be placed in policy circles on how economic and political development can be furthered whilst preserving or inducing characteristics of a cohesive, self-critical community.

Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of USAPP – American Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.

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About the author

Dennis Shen
Dennis Shen graduated from the MPA in International Development from the London School of Economics in 2013, and completed undergraduate studies at Cornell University. He worked with Alliance Bernstein in New York and London, most recently in the role of European Economist. His research interests include international political economy, global governance and environmental regulation.

Interview Highlights

On the Porvenir massacre against Mexican Americans in 1918

“The Porvenir massacre took place in January 1918, and it's a tragedy that was close, actually, in proximity in West Texas to El Paso, relatively speaking, to how big the state is. But it was a group of Texas Rangers, the state police, collaborated with some U.S. soldiers and local vigilantes to surround a ranching community, Porvenir. And in January 1918, 15 men and boys were massacred by the Texas Rangers. Despite investigations by the state, by Mexican diplomats and by the U.S. military, there [were] no prosecutions. So it's a case of state-sanctioned violence that is really profound and reminding us [not only] of the kinds of injustices that people experienced, but also the injustices that continue to remain in communities and were carried by descendants who fought the injustice and have been working for generations to remember this history.”

On how racial violence was part of an effort to consolidate white economic control in Texas

“The racial violence in the southwest, but especially in Texas, in the late 19th and early 20th century, targeted border communities, people who lived in places like Porvenir, places like Brownsville, border communities where people were living and thriving thanks to the life source of the river. So the Rio Grande that so many people knew about as a dividing line or as an international border 100 years ago, really united border communities. And so there were waves of Anglo migration that started after Texas independence, but also after the U.S.-Mexico war in 1848. And in part of what led to the survival of Anglo settlers and colonizers was the violent displacement of indigenous people, but also of land-owning Mexicans. And in this case, after the massacre, the victims were portrayed as bandits and as squatters. But research has shown that they were landowners who were making it profitable because they had successfully learned to irrigate the land. And so this is a history of colonization that helps to give us some historical perspective into a truthful accounting of this kind of violence.”

On how anti-Latino rhetoric influences hate crimes

“One hundred years ago, anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican rhetoric fueled an era of racial violence by law enforcement and by vigilantes. But it's also important to remember that this kind of sentiment, this rhetoric, also shapes policy. So 100 years ago, it shaped anti-immigrant policy like the 1924 Immigration Act. It also shaped policies like Jim Crow-style laws to segregate communities . and targeting Mexican Americans especially. There [were] efforts to keep American citizens, Mexican Americans, from voting. But there were also forced sterilization laws that were introduced, and U.S. Border Patrol was established in 1924. Our policing practices, our institutions today have deep roots in this period of racial violence.

"And something else that's, in terms of context, important to remember is that this was a period of violence that was celebrated as progress. And so it was celebrated as an era of nation-building in the United States. The U.S. government praised the militarization of the border and praised U.S. soldiers for showing strength in their ability to secure the border. And so it was an era in which the U.S.-Mexico border was created as a dividing line.”

On how the militarization of the border is still felt today

“What we are seeing today is that you see the border being portrayed as a dangerous place, and people who live near the border as suspicious and dangerous. Some of the same political rhetoric that was used 100 years ago to cause fear is returning. Although I would say that it never really went away. It's just that today, thankfully, Americans . finally have their eyes open to the kinds of injustices.”

On the importance of teaching this history so it doesn’t repeat itself

“Well, it's difficult to teach these histories on their own. But it's also deeply disturbing because students make connections. It prompts conversations about police violence today, police shootings on the border by Border Patrol agents. One of the cases that I write about in my book is the shooting of Concepcion García, who was a 9-year-old girl who was studying in Texas and became ill and crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico with her mother and her aunt to recover her. She was shot by a U.S. border agent.

"So when we teach these histories, it's important to know that these kinds of injustices have lasting consequences, not only in shaping our institutions, but shaping cultures and societies. When we think about the impact of some of the cases from 100 years ago continuing to weigh heavy on people a century later, it's a warning to us that we must heed. And we will have to work actively as a public. If we don't call for public accountability, these patterns of violence are going to continue, and we will be working for a long time to remedy the kinds of violence that we're seeing.”

Ciku Theuri produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Kathleen McKenna. Samantha Raphelson adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on November 25, 2019.

Co-host, Here & Now
Tonya Mosley is the LA-based co-host of Here & Now.

The Cause of America’s Dysfunctionality

In analyzing the causes for the dysfunctional nature of American society (e.g., soaring suicide rates, especially among young people, massive drug addiction and alcoholism, and widespread violence, including irrational mass killings), among the things to consider is the replacement of America’s founding economic, monetary, and governmental system with a different system.

There were good founding principles in America and bad founding principles. Among the bad ones, needless to say, were slavery and denial of women’s rights. It was a good thing that America abandoned its bad founding principles.

But there were also good founding principles. It was the abandonment of those principles that has to be considered a major cause of the many woes that America is undergoing today.

Let’s consider those good founding principles that were abandoned in favor of the system that Americans live under today:

1. Americans were free to keep everything they earned.

No income tax returns. No IRS. No rushing to the Post Office on April 15. No withholding or payroll taxes. No threats of audits, liens, garnishments, and criminal prosecution for failure to pay income taxes. Whatever people earned or received, they kept 100 percent of it.

2. Americans were free to decide for themselves what to do with their own money.

No mandatory charity, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, farm subsidies, corporate bailouts, and foreign aid. Charity was entirely voluntary. No one was forced to take care of anyone. No federal welfare departments and agencies.

Americans were free to ingest whatever they wanted, no matter how harmful or destructive, without fear of being punished for it by the government.

4. No immigration controls.

Except for a cursory tuberculosis and mental health examination at Ellis Island, the borders were open to the free movement of foreigners into the United States.

5. No minimum-wage laws and very few economic regulations.

Economic enterprise was free of federal governmental management and control. No federal regulatory departments and agencies.

6. No public schooling systems.

With the exception of Massachusetts in the 1850s, there were no compulsory school-attendance laws at the state and local level. No federal involvement or subsidization of education. The matter of education was left largely to the free market.

No gun registration or background checks. While communities sometimes imposed gun restrictions, Americans were free to keep and bear arms without federal governmental control or infringement.

8. No Federal Reserve, fiat (i.e., paper) money, or monetary inflation or debasement of the currency.

The Constitution called into existence a monetary system in which gold coins and silver coins were the official money of the country. The states were expressly prohibited from making anything but gold and silver coins legal tender.

9. No national-security state, foreign military bases, or foreign interventionism.

The Constitution brought into existence a limited-government republic. No Pentagon, military-industrial complex, CIA, NSA, or FBI. No wars of aggression (except the Mexican War), undeclared wars, coups, state-sponsored assassinations, foreign military bases, foreign aid, war on terrorism, war on communism, or alliances with foreign dictatorships or other regimes.

10. No denial of due process of law or trial by jury. No unreasonable searches and seizures. No cruel and unusual punishments. No coerced confessions.

Whenever federal officials targeted a person for criminal prosecution, the accused was guaranteed due process, trial by jury, and other civil liberties.

Those were the founding principles that caused our American ancestors to consider themselves the freest people in history. Moreover, not only did America become the country with the highest standard of living in history, which was why poor people were flooding into America from foreign lands, it also became the most charitable society in history, entirely on a voluntary basis.

Those were the good founding principles that were abandoned by later generations of Americans, in favor of what is commonly known today as a welfare-state, warfare-state way of life.

Ironically, even though they live under an opposite type of system from that of their American ancestors, today’s Americans are themselves convinced that they live lives of freedom. That sentiment is best manifested by the eagerness of modern-day Americans to thank imperial troops serving in faraway lands for protecting “our freedom” by killing and destroying people over there.

Johann Goethe wrote, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

I submit that that psychological denial of reality with respect to freedom as well as the abandonment of America’s good founding principles are the root cause of the dysfunctional nature of American society today.

The Oppression of White America

In recent years, a narrative has formed and spread among the masses that asserts that white people in America are being subjected to reverse racism, ridicule, public scorn and discrimination. Before attempting to examine (and ultimately dismantle) this preposterous hypothesis, we should acknowledge all the ways in which this premise has manifested itself in mainstream society:

In October 2017, a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard revealed that 55 percent of white Americans believe there is discrimination against white Americans. More Americans agree than disagree that “ white people are under attack in this country ,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. Numerous studies have shown that “ racial resentment ” was the overriding factor for people who voted for Donald Trump.

Anecdotally, there are cases like the recently approved White Civil Rights rally coming to Washington, D.C., sponsored by the same activist who organized Charlottesville, Va.’s Unite the Right march the rise in claims of “reverse racism” and the main refrain in the white national anthem: “Not all white people.”

Not to mention the white-tears-induced furor over people of color who blatantly discriminate against the Caucasian masses by using heinous racial slurs like “wypipo,” “colonizer” and—no, this is not a joke—the actual word “white”:

Their monuments to the Confederacy are being dismantled. Their potato salad is subjected to ridicule. People even poke fun at their dancing just because they choose not to adhere to the racist tradition of moving to the rhythm. Who among us will fight for the downtrodden, forgotten Caucasian victims of racism?

If we want to end the oppression of white people, we must attack it in every sector in which it exists. Any kind of discrimination is wrong, including the newly branded form of bigotry referred to as “reverse racism.”

But, first, unlike police officers who respond to 911 calls and people who watch Fox News, we must investigate the veracity of these white people’s allegations.

Are white people really oppressed?

The previously mentioned data proves that most white people feel that they are being attacked and oppressed. But if we accepted white people’s “feelings” as fact, we’d have to believe that Taylor Swift was better than Beyoncé, Jesus was white, and Donald Trump was an economic genius in perfect health whose inauguration was attended by invisible supporters who lived in the once- great part of America.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (pdf), the “not seasonally adjusted” black unemployment rate in May 2018 was 5.7 percent, almost twice the not seasonally adjusted white unemployment rate of 3.2 percent. When numbers were controlled for education, Pew Research reports that white males outearned every group of men except Asian men, and white women make more money per hour than every group of women except Asian women.

When the Center for Investigative Reporting and Reveal News looked at 21 million home mortgages in 2015 and 2016, it found that whites were more likely to be approved in almost every region of the U.S.

Not only does white homeownership outpace that of blacks 72 percent to 43 percent, but blacks are routinely subjected to higher interest rates on car loans and higher payments on car insurance , even when they have the same financial qualifications as whites.

When it comes to wealth, the wealth gap between whites and blacks continues to widen. A white household headed by someone with at least a bachelor’s degree is 11 times wealthier than a black household headed by a college graduate, according to Pew Research .

I wish I were that oppressed.


White people might have an economic advantage, but what about when it comes to education? Everyone knows that affirmative action has made it tougher for white kids.

A 2015 study shows that the larger the black population at a school, the less funding that school receives. This wouldn’t be troubling if not for the fact that a UCLA study (pdf) shows that American schools in the South are more segregated than they were 50 years ago.

On the college level, black students are more underrepresented at the top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago. While the college enrollment rates for both blacks and whites increased from 2000 to 2016 (pdf), the moment a white kid graduates, he owes less money and earns a higher income than his black counterparts.


Non-Hispanic whites make up 62 percent of the population in the U.S. but make up 81 percent of Congress and 89 percent of federal judgeships , and hold 49 of the nation’s 50 state governorships.

Even at the state level, in 2015, 81 percent of the members of legislatures were white (pdf), and there was no state legislature where whites were underrepresented in their state government as a percentage of the population. Whites control the U.S. Supreme Court, both houses of Congress, the White House and the judiciary. Aside from ordering Ben Carson’s office furniture, they control every imaginable seat of power in government.

Criminal Justice

Whites are less likely to be stopped by law enforcement officers while driving. Even though whites use and sell drugs at about the same rate as blacks, blacks are more than 2.7 times as likely to be arrested for drugs and more than five times more likely to be incarcerated for drugs.

When it comes to all crimes, blacks receive sentences that are 20 percent longer than those for whites who commit the same crime. Whites are even granted bail more often than African Americans and released on their own recognizance more often than blacks .

Although blacks are less than a quarter of the white population, in 2017, police killed more black people who were unarmed and not attacking than they did whites.

White oppression is a myth.

White people are not, and nor have they ever been, under attack. The overwhelming sentiment they are feeling is that of reality. It is that of truth.

No one is attacking white people. What is happening is that people of color are increasingly unashamed to point out discrimination and racism. Combined with the legitimate measures taken by some people and organizations to untilt the playing field, any attempt at fairness might feel like an attack on whiteness.

So calm down, white people.

The truth is, you have been perched on your pedestals of privilege for so long, when you are asked to step down, your fragility might make you feel as if you are being attacked.

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.

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White people feel oppressed when people of color succeed and are happy . I can’t even count the many times a white person has looked on with disdain when Bla ck people are joyfully engaging as we do. White people are joyless and they think it’s our fault. T hey c an ’t help but look on happy Black people and think Black people are stealing from “ their” well of happiness because how else are we happy. They think Black people are shit at everything so to see us living our lives well and enjoying ourselves really throws them. AND THEN if you add more money, a better car, a better house, better looking children, better education on top of that. shiiiiiiit. Their brains can’t handle it. It just doesn’ t fit the narrative that they are conditioned with since birth. Also this explains why so many see fit to interject with some bullshit comment “talk to me, I’m depressed” or “I like your hair” or “blah blah I have an opinion”. They can’t even leave us alone. They are like damn vampires.

And in addition to all this they hate each other especially between the sexes. Their relationships are awful. As white women gain more influence this is going to become more apparent. They lack the self awareness to be real about their own faults and white men are losing patience quickly on dealing with their antics. I think there is going to be some intense backlash. My only hope is that we can stay unaffected as much as possible.


Origins of the anti-vaccination movement

Fear of vaccines and myths against them are not a new phenomenon. Opposition to vaccines goes as far back as the 18th century when, for example, Reverend Edmund Massey in England called the vaccines 𠇍iabolical operations” in his 1772 sermon, “The Dangerous and Sinful Practice of Inoculation” [4]. He decried these vaccines as an attempt to oppose God’s punishments upon man for his sins [5]. Similar religious opposition was seen in the “New World” even earlier, such as in the writings of Reverend John Williams in Massachusetts, who also cited similar reasons for his opposition to vaccines claiming that they were the devil’s work [6]. However, opposition against vaccines was not only manifested in theological arguments many also objected to them for political and legal reasons. After the passage of laws in Britain in the mid-19th century making it mandatory for parents to vaccinate their children, anti-vaccine activists formed the Anti-Vaccination League in London. The league emphasized that its mission was to protect the liberties of the people which were being “invaded” by Parliament and its compulsory vaccination laws [7]. Eventually, the pressure exerted by the league and its supporters compelled the British Parliament to pass an act in 1898, which removed penalties for not abiding by vaccination laws and allowed parents who did not believe vaccination was beneficial or safe to not have their children vaccinated [8]. Since the rise and spread of the use of vaccines, opposition to vaccines has never completely gone away, vocalized intermittently in different parts of the world due to arguments based in theology, skepticism, and legal obstacles [9].

While pushback against the measles vaccine due to fears of its connection to autism is the most recent example that comes to mind, there have been other instances of outbreaks of previously 𠇎xtinct” diseases in modern times. One example is the refusal of some British parents to vaccinate their children in the 1970s and 1980s against pertussis in response to the publication of a report in 1974 that credited 36 negative neurological reactions to the whole-cell pertussis vaccine [10]. This caused a decrease in the pertussis vaccine uptake in the United Kingdom (UK) from 81% in 1974 to 31% in 1980, eventually resulting inਊ pertussis outbreak in the UK, putting severe strain and pressure on the National Health System [11-12]. Vaccine uptake levels were elevated to normal levels after the publication of a national reassessment of vaccine efficacy that reaffirmed the vaccine’s benefits, as well as financial incentives for general practitioners who achieved the target of vaccine coverage [13]. Disease incidence declined dramatically as a result.

The anti-vaccination movement was most strongly rejuvenated in recent years by the publication of a paper in The Lancet by a former British doctor and researcher, Andrew Wakefield, which suggested credence to the debunked-claim of a connection between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and development of autism in young children [14]. Several studies published later disproved a causal association between the MMR vaccine and autism [15-18]. Wakefield drew severe criticism for his flawed and unethical research methods, which he used to draw his data and conclusions [19]. A journalistic investigation also revealed that there was a conflict of interest with regard to Wakefield’s publication because he had received funding from litigants against vaccine manufacturers, which he obviously did not disclose to either his co-workers nor medical authorities [20]. For all of the aforementioned reasons, The Lancet retracted the study, and its editor declared it “utterly false” [21]. As a result, three months later, he was also struck off the UK Medical Registry, barring him from practicing medicine in the UK. The verdict declared that he had "abused his position of trust" and "brought the medical profession into disrepute" in the studies he carried out [22].

Repercussions of declining vaccination rates

The damage, however, was already done and the myth was spread to many different parts of the world, especially Western Europe and North America. In the UK, for example, the MMR vaccination rate dropped from 92% in 1996 to 84% in 2002. In 2003, the rate was as low as 61% in some parts of London, far below the rate needed to avoid an epidemic of measles [23]. In Ireland, in 1999-2000, the national immunization level had fallen below 80%, and in part of North Dublin, the level was around 60% [24]. In the US, the controversy following the publication of the study led to a decline of about 2% in terms of parents obtaining the MMR vaccine for their children in 1999 and 2000. Even after later studies explicitly and thoroughly debunked the alleged MMR-autism link, the drop in vaccination rates persisted [25].

As a result, multiple breakouts of measles have occurred throughout different parts of the Western world, infecting dozens of patients and even causing deaths. In the UK in 1998, 56 people contracted measles in 2006, this number increased to 449 in the first five months of the year, with the first death since 1992 [26]. In 2008, measles was declared endemic in the UK for the first time in 14 years [27]. In Ireland, an outbreak occurred in 2000 and 1,500 cases and three deaths were reported. The outbreak was reported to have occurred as a direct result of a drop in vaccination rates following the MMR controversy [28]. In France, more than 22,000 cases of measles were reported from 2008 - 2011 [29]. The United States has not been an exception, with outbreaks occurring most recently in 2008, 2011, and 2013 [30-32].

Perhaps the most infamous example of a measles outbreak in the United States occurred in 2014-2015. The outbreak was believed to originate from the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California and resulted in an estimated 125 people contracting the disease [33]. It was estimated that MMR vaccination rates among the exposed population in which secondary cases have occurred might be as low as 50% and likely no higher than 86% [34]. Physicians in the region were criticized for deviating from the CDC's (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended vaccination schedule and/or discouraging vaccination. As a result, California passed Senate Bill 277, a mandatory vaccination law in June 2015, banning personal and religious exemptions to abstain from vaccinations [35].

Technology and its effects on anti-vaccination movement

Access to medical information online has dramatically changed the dynamics of the healthcare industry and patient-physician interactions. Medical knowledge that was previously bound to textbooks and journals, or held primarily by medical professionals, is now accessible to the layman, which has shifted the power from doctors as exclusive managers of a patient's care to the patients themselves [36]. This has led to the recent establishment of shared decision-making between patients and healthcare physicians [37]. While this is beneficial in some ways, the dissemination of false and misleading information found on the internet can also lead to negative consequences, such as parents not giving consent to having their children vaccinated. When it comes to vaccines, the false information is plentiful and easy to find. An analysis of YouTube videos about immunization found that 32% opposed vaccination and that these had higher ratings and more views than pro-vaccine videos [38]. An analysis of MySpace blogs about HPV immunization found that 43% portrayed the immunization in a negative light these blogs referenced vaccine-critical organizations and cited inaccurate data [39]. A similar study of Canadian internet users tracked the sharing of influenza vaccine information on social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Digg. Of the top search results during the study period, 60% promoted anti-vaccination sentiments [40]. A study that examined the content of the first 100 anti-vaccination sites found after searching for “vaccination” and “immunization” on Google concluded that 43% of websites were anti-vaccination (including all of the first 10) [41].

Online anti-vaccination authors use numerous tactics to further their agendas. These tactics include, but are not limited to, skewing science, shifting hypotheses, censoring opposition, attacking critics, claiming to be “pro-safe vaccines”, and not 𠇊nti-vaccine”, claiming that vaccines are toxic or unnatural, and more [42]. Not only are these tactics deceitful and dishonest, they are also effective on many parents. A study that evaluated how effectively users assessed the accuracy of medical information about vaccines online concluded that 59% of student participants thought retrieved sites were entirely accurate however, out of the 40 sites they were given, only 18 were actually accurate, while 22 were inaccurate. These sites were not evidence-based and argued vaccines were inherently dangerous without any merit-based argument. More than half of participants (53%) left the exercise with significant misconceptions about vaccines [43]. Research has also shown that viewing an anti-vaccine website for merely 5 - 10 minutes increased perceptions of vaccination risks and decreased perceptions of the risks of vaccine omission, compared to visiting a control site [44]. The study also found that the anti-vaccine sentiments obtained from viewing the websites still persisted five months later, causing the children of these parents to obtain fewer vaccinations than recommended [45]. The role of the online access to false anti-vaccination information just cannot be understated in examining the rise and spread of the anti-vaccination movement.

Ethical and legal issues regarding vaccination

Opposition to the MMR vaccine among parents leads to an ethical dilemma that can be analyzed using both medical ethics and moral principles. Medical ethics call for health professionals to abide by a code of bioethics upholding autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice. The most relevant in mandating vaccinations are autonomy and non-maleficence [46]. Patients are entitled to the right to refuse vaccination using “our children, our choice” based on their autonomy, while health care providers are morally obligated to treat everyone with non-maleficence and avoiding harm to society at all costs.

At the individual level, religion is a common reason to refuse vaccination. The MMR vaccine specifically has been the cause of instigating debate among the Hindu, Protestant, Orthodox Jewish, and Jehovah’s Witness communities. Specific religious views on vaccines in general, however, are not normally the cause for debate but instead the components of the MMR vaccine [47]. The MMR vaccine, combined with the rubella vaccine, was originally derived from the cells of aborted fetal tissue. Hindu, Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish communities are generally opposed to abortion for moral reasons based on religious teachings thus, individuals from these beliefs may cite religious reasons for filing vaccine exemptions. Further, the MMR vaccine contains porcine gelatin as a stabilizer, a means for ensuring effective storage. The porcine ingredients are unlike gelatins used for oral consumption and purified down to small peptides, commonly used in medicine capsules as well [48]. As there is a wide range of practice preferences in every religion, some individuals belonging to religions, such as Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism (to name a few), may be opposed to injecting a porcine product into their body along with the vaccine [47]. Further, other religious views, such as the ones held by Dutch-Protestant Christian congregations, consider vaccinations “inappropriate meddling in the work of God”. These groups, therefore, believe that we should not change the predestined fate of someone who becomes ill [49].

While exercising autonomy and refusing vaccination is valid for sensitive personal issues, it will cause more harm than good if a certain percentage of the population does not get vaccines causing the immunization rate to fall below the herd immunity threshold. This threshold varies in every disease. The development of vaccines is considered one of the greatest strides made in medicine due to the enormous benefits to an entire population. From an ethics perspective, achieving herd immunity and minimizing the amount of 𠇏reeloaders” is in the best interest of society as a whole [48-49].

Further, studies liken the decision to object to vaccinations to military service drafts. For the conscientious objectors, military duty and receiving a vaccine hold the same costs: liberty, personal risk, and utility in terms of time [41]. Naturally, the costs of military duty are more taxing and demand more from an individual than receiving a vaccine. In terms of herd immunity and depending on the severity of impending diseases, these costs are ones that they should incur for the benefit of themselves as well as society.

At the forefront of the legal complications lies the state-regulated vaccinations for all children attending school. Anti-vaccination proponents argue that this is an infringement upon autonomy however, public health policymakers justify their actions using rule utilitarianism. Rule utilitarianism is the ideology that a rule for society should be established that has the best outcome for the greatest amount of people in the society. In addition to this, John Stuart Mill’s essay, “On Liberty”, explains the Harm Principle that is often used to justify mandated infectious disease control methods, including vaccines [50]. The Harm Principle justifies interfering with autonomy and individual liberties, against their will, if it is done so as to prevent harm to others. An example of this was seen in California in 2014-2015 after an outbreak of measles led to the passing of Senate Bill 277 calling for state-mandated vaccinations for everyone - no personal exemptions. The root of the problem, however, was most likely to be contributed to Wakefield’s fraudulent findings striking the fear of a vaccination-autism link in parents, which led to an all-time low rate of people receiving the MMR vaccine. The hoax has been called the most damaging medical hoax in 100 years after bringing about outbreaks of diseases otherwise eradicated [8-9, 11].

In the times that we have achieved herd immunity, there remain two questions then. Can legal exemptions still be justified? And should these exemptions be limited to religious reasons or should they include secular reasoning as well [21, 25]? Most scientists and medical experts suggest that exemptions should only even be considered if society is well within the limits for herd immunity. As for the religious versus secular debate, it is difficult to ignore secular objections as most of them are rooted in spiritual or holistic personal views [6, 47]. Since herd immunity is cumulative, the ability to waive immunizations is concluded to be difficult but not impossible. If the waivers are given to a small number of individuals who sincerely need them rather than ones who are inconvenienced by them, waivers may be ethically and legally sound. 

42a. Roots of the Movement

The first page to Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward" in which people from the year 2,000 look back to 1887

The single greatest factor that fueled the progressive movement in America was urbanization. For years, educated, middle-class women had begun the work of reform in the nation's cities.

Jane Addams was a progressive before the movement had such a name. The settlement house movement embodied the very ideals of progressivism. Temperance was a progressive movement in its philosophy of improving family life. " Social gospel " preachers had already begun to address the needs of city dwellers.

Progressive Writing

Urban intellectuals had ready stirred consciences with their controversial treatises. Henry George attracted many followers by blaming inequalities in wealth on land ownership. In his 1879 work, Progress and Poverty , he suggested that profits made from land sales be taxed at a rate of 100 percent.

Edward Bellamy peered into the future in his 1888 novel, Looking Backward . The hero of the story wakes up in the year 2000 and looks back to see that all the hardships of the Gilded Age have withered away thanks to an activist, utopian socialist government.

In The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Thorstein Veblen cited countless cases of " conspicuous consumption ." Wealthy families spent their riches on acquiring European works of art or fountains that flowed with champagne. Surely, he argued, those resources could be put to better use.

Pragmatic Solutions

Underlying this new era of reform was a fundamental shift in philosophy away from Social Darwinism. Why accept hardship and suffering as simply the result of natural selection? Humans can and have adapted their physical environments to suit their purposes. Individuals need not accept injustices as the "law of nature" if they can think of a better way.

Philosopher William James called this new way of thinking, " pragmatism ." His followers came to believe that an activist government could be the agent of the public to pursue the betterment of social ills.

The most prolific disciple of James was John Dewey . Dewey applied pragmatic thinking to education. Rather than having students memorize facts or formulas, Dewey proposed " learning by doing ." The progressive education movement begun by Dewey dominated educational debate the entire 20th century.

The Populist Influence

The Populist movement also influenced progressivism. While rejecting the call for free silver, the progressives embraced the political reforms of secret ballot , initiative , referendum , and recall . Most of these reforms were on the state level. Under the governorship of Robert LaFollette , Wisconsin became a laboratory for many of these political reforms.

The Populist ideas of an income tax and direct election of senators became the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments to the United States Constitution under progressive direction.

Reforms went further by trying to root out urban corruption by introducing new models of city government. The city commission and the city manager systems removed important decision making from politicians and placed it in the hands of skilled technicians. The labor movement contributed the calls for workers' compensation and child labor regulation.

Progressivism came from so many sources from every region of America. The national frame of mind was fixed. Reform would occur. It was only a matter of how much and what type.

Individual and Group Contributions


The University of Nevada, Reno, has developed an acclaimed Basque Studies program. It offers course work in Basque language, history, and culture and publishes the Basque Book Series, which numbers more than 30 titles.

Though Basque American individuals have not established themselves as notable visual artists, immigrant sheepherders developed an anonymous art form unique in the American West. The herders carved the trunks of aspen trees, often cutting their initials and dates into the bark, but sometimes adding short thoughts, poems, or drawings—usually about women or sex. As time passed, the aspen would produce scar tissue around the cuts in a manner that outlined them. As many as 500,000 such carved trees may exist in the western states. One carver who signed his name "Borel" appeared to have had some formal art training. The trees he carved are near Kyburz Flat in California's Tahoe National Forest. Dr. Joxe Mallea of the University of Nevada, Reno, who has specialized in the study of Basque tree carvings and has been instrumental in their preservation on public land, called Borel "an amazing carver."

The single most significant piece of art for Basque Americans is the National Basque Monument in Nevada. Unveiled in Reno on August 27, 1989, the five-ton bronze piece was created by renowned Basque sculptor Nestor Basterretxea, who named it Bakardade (Solitude). The sculpture depicts a sheepherder carrying a lamb on his back under a full moon. Not all Basque Americans appreciated the memorial's abstract design, and some complained that it did not adequately memorialize their history. Yet the committee that approved the design felt that the memorial would stimulate discussion about the Basque cultural heritage.


Two Basque language newspapers were published in the Los Angeles area during the late 1800s. Lawyer Martin Bascailuz published Escualdun Gazeta, the first newspaper in the world printed exclusively in the Basque language, during the 1880s. When Bascailuz's reputation suffered after his alleged mismanagement of a wealthy client's estate, the paper folded and was succeeded by California'ko Eskual Herria, published by journalist José Goytino. During the 1890s, the large population of Basques in central California prompted the Bakersfield Daily Californian to print occasional articles in Basque, and during the 1930s, the Boise [Idaho] Capital News also included stories in Basque. From 1973 to 1977, Brian Wardle, a non-Basque, published The Voice of the Basques from Boise. Basques in the San Francisco area, the majority of whom were of French origin, subscribed to Le Californienne, which later became Journal Français d'Amerique.


Basque Americans have been relatively slow to establish a literary tradition, in part because so much of their background was based on an oral culture. In addition, most of the Basque intelligentsia who emigrated chose to go to South America rather than the United States, leaving the American West with virtually no foundation to support Basque literature. One writer, however, has received extensive recognition. Robert Laxalt, brother of politician Paul Laxalt, has earned critical acclaim for his books exploring the Basque American experience. In The Basque Hotel (1993), he chronicles the coming-of-age of a young boy whose parents run a boardinghouse in Nevada. Child of the Holy Ghost (1992) tells of his journey to the Basque Country to discover his parents' roots, and The Governor's Mansion (1994) recounts how the oldest son enters politics in Nevada. Sweet Promised Land (1988), Laxalt's first book, is a memoir of his immigrant father. Laxalt has also published the novella A Cup of Tea in Pamplona (1993) and text for the photo essay A Time We Knew: Images of Yesterday in the Basque Homeland (1990).


Among the more celebrated Basque American musicians is accordion player Jim Jausoro. Jausoro and his partner, Domingo Ansotegui, began playing dance music at Basque festivals and gatherings in the 1940s and eventually became quite well-known. Since 1960, Jausoro has played regularly for Boise's Oinkari dancers. In 1985, he was chosen as one of twelve master traditional artists in the United States to receive the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Jausoro has also received a lifetime achievement award from the North American Basque Organization.


Basques have brought several unique sports to America, and they enjoy participating in athletic contests at festivals. Many of these events can be traced to the physical work Basques did in the Pyrenees. Wood chopping is a very popular event at Basque American festivals, as are weight carrying and stone lifting, all of which allow athletes to demonstrate their skill as well as their strength and endurance. Handball games are also an essential part of Basque American life. Pelota, or handball, was developed from the medieval game of jeu de paume. According to Zubiri, Basques invented the basic modern handball game as well as several variations. Jai alai, played with basket-like extensions ( txistera ) that are fastened to the wrist, is probably the best-known of these variations. Basque immigrants began building pelota courts soon after they arrived in the United States, and their love of the sport is considered an important factor in unifying the American Basque community. From the earliest days of Basque immigration, weekly pelota matches were held throughout the western states, enabling people scattered over a large geographic area to get together for competitions. Until World War II, every significant Basque community in the United States had one or more pelota courts. Jai alai, on the other hand, has been most popular in Florida, the first state to boast a professional team. Mus, a card game, is another common pastime when Basque Americans get together.

We Belong Here: Manifest Destiny, Immigration, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

When we think of immigration we tend to think of people crossing over nation-state borders, from one country to another. These borders seem somehow solid in our collective mind, yet they normally only exist within treaties, maps, and in perceived ideas of community. But in many ways, borders are arbitrary distinctions, attempting to separate one from another but instead creating unique spaces, or borderlands that house a give and take, push and pull, amalgam of culture and people.

In this episode, we are going to be talking about how the United States’ southern border formed and how ideas of race and manifest destiny came to define what it meant to be an American or an immigrant.

We Belong Here:
Manifest Destiny, Immigration and the Treaty of Hidalgo
Produced by Dan Wallace and Elizabeth Garner Masarik
Edited by Averill Earls and Marissa Rhodes
Transcribed by Elizabeth Garner Masarik

Dan: When we think of immigration we tend to think of people crossing over nation-state borders, from one country to another. These borders seem somehow solid in our collective mind, yet they normally only exist within treaties, maps, and in perceived ideas of community. But in many ways, borders are arbitrary distinctions, attempting to separate one from another but instead creating unique spaces, or borderlands that house a give and take, push and pull, amalgam of culture and people.

Elizabeth: In this episode, we are going to be talking about how the United States’ southern border formed and how ideas of race and manifest destiny came to define what it meant to be an American or an immigrant.

I’m Elizabeth Garner Masarik
And I’m Dan Wallace
And we are the History Buffs

After today’s show go to iTunes rate us and leave a review. We hope you enjoy the episode!

On a whole, white Americans had implicitly believed that they had a right to as much of North America as they wanted. That was evident in numerous Indian treaties, the Northwest Ordinance, the Louisiana Purchase, in the Indian Removal Act of 1830- and other such documents and treaties. This belief wasn’t given an official name though, or vocabulary however until 1845 when journalist John O’Sullivan wrote that “it is our manifest destiny … to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”

But the idea of manifest destiny didn’t just rest on physical space. It also rested on white Americans understanding of race, intellect, and power.

White Americans came to believe they were a nation divinely ordained for great deeds. This, coupled with a growing fascination in an Anglo-Saxon racial heritage provided the rationale that the suffering inflicted on others had to lie on the others’ racial weaknesses.

This belief in the supposed “superior” qualities of the Anglo-Saxon race ultimately supported the rationale for overpowering northern Mexico as well as Native American peoples.

White Americans views about northern Mexico were also colored by ideas that carried over from the Black Legend of the 16th and 17th century and stemmed from Elizabethan and Protestant attitudes towards Catholic Spain. As an example of this type of race thinking, historian Arnoldo De Leon highlighted a speech given in 1821 by U.S. senator Henry Clay where Clay stated “by what race should Texas be peopled?” Should it become “a place of despotism and slaves of the Inquisition and superstition?”

So he’s essentially playing off Protestant, anti-Catholic attitudes prevalent in America and highlighted that American attitudes toward Spain’s influence on the borderlands was colored by old ideas about the Black Legend and the Inquisition.

Ideas of “blood purity” also colored thinking about the inhabitants of northern Mexico and
Mexicans. They were viewed by white Americans as racially inferior because they were of “mixed blood.” Historian Americo Paredes argued that no theory had more impact on Anglo views of Spanish Mexicans than the “doctrine of miscegenation, which held that the progeny of racially-different parents inherited the worst qualities of each.”

Historians of Latin American have written extensively on the Spanish ideology of blood purity in colonial and Iberian Spain. Ideas of pure Spanish blood and tainted black and Indian blood were pervasive in the 16th and 17th century Spanish colonies. These notions of “pure” and tainted blood carried on well into the 19th and 20th centuries.

But, the preoccupation of blood purity was not relegated to the Spanish alone as seen in this quote by Texan, Sam Houston regarding his thoughts on blood purity, or “mixed blood” Mexicans in a speech where he asked his compatriots if they “would bow under the yoke of these half-indians?”
Houston went on to say that “the vigor of the descendants of the sturdy north will never mix with the phlegm of the indolent Mexicans.”

So, ideas of blood purity were not specific to colonial Spanish elites but were understood by Anglo Americans as a form of debasement, and a justification for the Anglo Saxons of North America to expand their territory into northern Mexico.

The Mexican-American War 1846-1848 was a prime example of American westward expansion in the name of Manifest Destiny. The war dramatically changed the geographical boundaries of the United States as well as its demographics. It is estimated that over one hundred thousand Mexicans and indigenous Native Americans were affected by the annexation of northern Mexico.

Hostilities between Spain, and then Mexico in 1821 when Mexico became an independent nation and between the United States dated back many years before the Mexican-American War took place. In 1819 Spain and the United States signed the Transcontinental Treaty in which Spain ceded all of Florida to the United States and the U.S. had given up claims to Spanish lands south of the 42nd parallel. Nevertheless, white Americans began to enter the region in ever increasing numbers. Some were invited and some were not.

Mexico attempted to develop the region of northern Mexico that we now know as central and south Texas by offering land grants to Americans in exchange for bringing settlers to bolster the population in the area. a Connecticut farmer named Moses Austin, and later his son Stephen F. Austin were the first to colonize the region with American farmers. The Austin’s received a large land grant and then re-sold smaller tracts of land to American settlers. Many of the Americans who came to the Texas settlements never fully recognized Mexico’s sovereignty or claims to the land.

Although slavery was illegal in Mexico, many American settlers brought their slaves to Texas. Mexico enacted inconsistent laws governing slavery, first banning it altogether, then allowing slaves to enter the nation but regulating mandatory gradual abolition. But the Texas immigrants had developed a cotton economy dependent on slave labor and were determined to preserve and grow slavery in the settlement areas. In 1824 Stephen F. Austin devised a set of regulations for his colony that set harsh rules for slaves who attempted to escape and punished free people who helped runaway slaves. In 1830 Austin stated that “Texas must be a slave country.”

By 1830 the Mexican government, realizing it was losing it’s grip on the region annulled existing land contracts and barred future emigration from the United States. In 1835, Mexico’s ruler General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana sent an army to Texas to impose central authority. This sparked alarm and revolt in Texas and led to the Texas War of Independence. Mexico recognized Texas’s independence in 1836. In 1837 the Texas Congress petitioned to become part of the United States but both Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren avoided annexing Texas because of the political disputes that adding another slave state to the Union would bring. Regardless, thousands of slave holders poured into Texas between 1836-1845.

In 1844 a letter by secretary of state John C. Calhoun was leaked to the press, linking Texas statehood directly to the strengthening of slavery. This bolstered some southern leaders hopes that Texas would be divided up into several states, thus increasing the slave power in Congress.

Pressure mounted by pro-slavery factions and the continuing ideology of manifest destiny pushed president James K. Polk to acquire California and disputed lands in Texas. Polk sent an emissary to Mexico, offering to purchase California, which the Mexican government refused. At the same time however, Polk directed American soldiers under Zachary Taylor to move into the disputed lands in Texas, making conflict with Mexican forces inevitable. When fighting inevitably broke out, Polk stated that Mexico had “shed blood upon American soil,” although Mexico claimed that the land in question was part of Mexico, and called for a declaration of war. And obviously Mexico didn’t see that as American soil, because it was disputed land, so the Mexicans felt that Americans were encroaching on their sovereign territory.

Elizabeth: Many northern abolitionists were firmly against the Mexican War, fearing that the actual reason for acquiring new territory was for the expansion of slavery. In 1846 Henry David Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay taxes to a government who he deemed as supporting slavery in its expansion into Mexico. He wrote, “On Civil Disobedience” defending his action and just as a side note, this essay became an important influence to later advocates of nonviolent resistance like Martin Luther King and Muhatma Gahndi.

Dan: So from the get go this was a pretty contentious war. Instead of focusing on all the battles, I want to talk about the war’s conclusion and the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, where I think there was a lot of interesting action. In September of 1847, General Winfield Scott had taken control of Mexico’s capital, Mexico City and was hoping for peace negotiations to begin. With his was Nicholas Trist who was a chief clerk of the U.S. State department and was serving on behalf of President Polk. Earlier that summer Trist came with the draft of a treaty that had many of the same features that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo would ultimately have. This included U.S. control of Alta and Baja California, the Rio Grande would be recognized as the southern border of Texas, or the border between Mexico and the U.S. In exchange the U.S. would give Mexico 20 million dollars and it assume up to three million dollars in the claims that U.S. citizens had against the Mexican government. But this initial treaty didn’t really get anywhere, as negotiations broke down. The U.S. and General Scott felt like the only way to get peace was by force, so that’s why in September he was in Mexico City. But the official treaty ending the war wasn’t signed until Feb of 1848. So the idea of taking the city by force to end the war probably didn’t happen as quickly as Scott and Polk had assumed it would, or wanted it to. During the months in between the U.S.’s taking over of Mexico City and the signing of the treaty, Polk was facing intense criticism back home. Elizabeth had already brought Henry David Thoreau and Civil Disobedience along with him, many abolitionists were against the war because they were afraid of slavery spreading into the land that the U.S. took. And there were also people with less admirable anti-war beliefs that didn’t want to share the new land that the U.S. took, with Mexicans who were already living there. All throughout history we see this, we see racial tensions intensify when space becomes, or threatens to become shared.

Polk also faced a lot of criticism from other politicians. In November of 1847 Henry Clay gave a speech in Lexington, KY where he denounced the war and criticized Polk. Clay wanted to get out of Mexico and he didn’t even want to take any land. Which was controversial amongst politicians and didn’t do Clay any favors politically. But he really stood up for what he believed in. And he said this in a slave state no less, where people would have been all for expanding slavery into the newly acquired lands. But he felt that the war did not reflect well on the U.S. and the U.S. government. This speech also inspired none other that Abraham Lincoln who was a Congressman at the time. Lincoln gave a speech in front of Congress which was later known at the Spot Resolutions and he called out Polk and he asked where the exact spot was that U.S. blood was spilled on U.S. soil. Going back to what Elizabeth said the war started because the belief that Mexicans were aggressive to U.S. troops on U.S. soil. But this was a contested fact, or perhaps an “alternative fact” by today’s standards. And this speech Lincoln gives was actually a pretty big deal for Lincoln who was relatively unknown at the time. And here he is issuing this rebuke against the president. But where he differed from Clay was in regards to the acquisition of land. Lincoln didn’t really rule out the possibility of adding new territory, nor did he really address the issue of slavery.

So Polk’s facing criticism from both the public and from politicians, but despite all this he remained committed to the idea that Mexicans were the aggressors of the war. At his third address to the Congress, which was kind of like the State of the Union, except that the didn’t give a speech like we do today, he actually just wrote a letter to Congress. In this address Polk made it clear that he wanted Mexican land. And that the war wasn’t going to end until California was a part of the U.S. But months had gone by and there was still no end to the war and it wasn’t making Polk look good nor was it making him very happy. So Polk calls for Trist to return to Washington, effectively relieving Trist of his diplomatic duties. In Polk’s mind, Trist had failed but Trist felt like he was making progress. More than that, Trist knew that the majority of Americans did not want this war to go on. He himself didn’t think it was very just and he was afraid that if the U.S. stopped negotiating the war would continue and he saw the effects that the war was having on soldiers who were not only dying but they were also drinking and gambling. He didn’t think this was a positive thing for American character. He also knew that the longer the war lasted, pro-war Democrats would just say “hey, let’s just take over the whole country.” And Trist didn’t want that either. So Trist does not leave. He doesn’t leave Mexico. What was also encouraging for Trist was Mexico’s new provisional president, Manuel de la Pena y Pena, who was also reading the terrain and knew that if Mexico didn’t sign a treaty that eventually the U.S. would just take the whole country over by force. So in refusing to leave Trist writes Polk a sixty-five page response explaining his beliefs and explaining why he won’t leave. And you have to remember that it wasn’t until mid-century when telegraphs made communicating easy, so correspondence between Mexico City and Washington D.C. took some time reach one another. So plenty of time goes by that Polk might think that Trist is returning. But he’s not. He’s no longer officially representing the U.S. government but he stays to negotiate a treaty, which is a pretty crazy thing when you think about it. So Trist and his Mexican counterparts meet in this town of Guadalupe Hidalgo and this is where they eventually sign the treaty. And this treaty is basically everything that Polk wanted in the first place. Everything that was seen in that initial draft treaty that Trist came with. Uh, the only difference was that the U.S. would not acquire Baja California but instead of having to pay 20 million dollars, Trist negotiated it down to 15. The treaty also gave certain civil rights to Mexicans living in the territories that the U.S. would acquire. And again the Rio Grande would become the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

So as they are there signing the treaty, one of the Mexican diplomats, right before he picks up his pen, turns to Trist and says, “this must be a proud moment for you. No less proud for you as it is humiliating for us.” To that Trist replied, “we are making peace, let that be our only thought.”

But deep down Trist didn’t really believe in what he was doing. He admitted to his family later that, “could those Mexicans have seen into my heart at that moment, they would have know that my feeling of shame as an American was far stronger than theirs could be as Mexicans.”

Elizabeth: Those that lived in the land annexed by the United States had three choices they could leave their homes and retreat past the U.S. border but still retain rights to their lands in the U.S., they could stay on their land and choose to keep their Mexican citizenship if they officially declared they wished to do so, or they could stay and within one year they would be presumed to be American citizens after the allotted time.

Mexicans who decided to stay within the new borders technically became Anglo or white due to Naturalization Act of 1790 that only allowed the naturalization of “free white persons” of “good character” to become citizens of the United States. However, after annexation most Anglo Americans did not regard Mexican heritage residents as white and thus deserving of equal protections of American citizenship.

The 1870s and 80s saw railroad expansion and a huge cattle boom in Texas, which brought thousands of Anglo immigrants into the area. Most of these white immigrants came from Southern states and brought Southern racial prejudices with them.

Historian Katherine Cohen-Benton illuminated the formation of racial categories along the U.S.-Mexican border when Anglo distinctions of “white” and “Mexican” changed into categories of “American” and “non-American” during this period. This made Mexican heritage residents with roots in America and Mexico targets of racial discrimination, land seizure, and violence.

Over a span of about 50 years Anglos became numerically dominant in Texas but people of Mexican heritage still maintained a majority in the south Rio Grande Valley. Still, as Anglos continued to immigrate into Texas they imposed Jim Crow-type laws that included Mexicans in their racial restrictions.

Anglos also systematically took Tejano lands. Tax rolls show that from 1900 to 1910 Spanish surnamed families lost more than one hundred and eighty-seven thousand acres of land in two counties in South Texas. Over half of Spanish-surnamed land was ceded to Anglos in Hidalgo County alone.

The rights granted to Mexicans annexed in the Mexican-American war were slowly chipped away. Numerous court cases overturned Mexican land provisions guaranteed in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and granted thousands of acres of land belonging to Mexicans to newly arrived Anglos. These court outcomes revealed how American ideas of Manifest Destiny affected not just populations throughout the borderlands but the laws and justifications of the developing nation.

But the region could still be a give and take environment. the borderlands maintained that the area provides a give and take environment, where cultures and nation states meet and play off one another ultimately becoming something different through contact. theory of this space as borderlands, allowing them to show the push and shove, contact and violence that cultures face when meeting in an overlapping space.

Historian Rodolfo Acuña asserted that in order to understand the history of the American West, the history of conflict between the United States and Mexico must be a central tenet of analysis. He argued the colonization of Mexico by the United States was a conquest of violence that enacted a system of racial privilege and hierarchy.One of the main tenets of Chicano scholarship in the borderlands argues that Mexican peoples are not new immigrants to America but have a long, rich, and difficult relation to the area. The common misperception that Mexicans as an ethnic group new to the United States obscures the legacy of American colonization.

So from the get go this was a pretty contentious war, and instead of focusing on all of the battles, I want to talk about the war’s conclusion and the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo where I think there was a lot of interesting action.

Dan: In September of 1847 General Winfield Scott had taken control of Mexico’s capital, Mexico City. And was hoping for peace negotiations to begin. With Winfield was Nicholas Trist who was a chief clerk of the US state department and he was serving as a diplomat on behalf of president Polk. Early that summer Trist came with a draft of a treaty that had many of the same features that the T of GH would ultimately have. This included US control of Alta & Baja California, and the Rio Grande would be recognized as the southern border of Texas. In exchange the US would give Mexico 20 million dollars and it would assume up to 3 million dollars in the claims that US citizens had against the Mexican government. But this initial treaty didn’t really get anywhere as negations broke down. So the US and general Scott felt like the only way to get peace was by force so in September on 1847 he took the control of Mexico city. Now this was September, but the official treaty ending the war was signed until February of 1848, so the idea that taking the city by force to end the war probably didn’t happen as quickly as Scott and Polk had assumed it would or wanted it to. During the months in between the US’s taking over of MC and the signing of the treaty Polk was facing intense criticism back home. Elizabeth brought up HDT and civil disobedience, many abolitionists were against the war because they were afraid of slavery spreading into the land that the US took, and there were also people with less admirable anti-war beliefs, who didn’t want to share the new land the US captured with the Mexicans who were already living there, all throughout history we see racial tensions intensify when space becomes or threatens to become shared.

Polk also faced a lot of criticism from other politicians, famously Henry Clay in November of 1847 gave a speech in Lexington KY denouncing the war and really criticizing Polk. Clay wanted to get out of Mexico and he didn’t even want to take any land, which was controversial amongst politicians and didn’t do Clay any favors politically, but he really stood up for what he believed in, and he said this in a slave state no less, where people would have been all for expanding slavery into newly acquired lands. But he felt the war did not reflect well on the US and the US govt. This speech also inspired none other than Abe Lincoln, who was a congressman at the time. Lincoln gave a speech in front of congress, a speech later to be known as the spot resolution and he calls out Polk and asks where the exact spot was where US blood was spilled on US soil. Going back to what Elizabeth said, this war started because of the belief that Mexicans were aggressive to US troops on US soil, but this was a contested fact, perhaps an alternative fact by todays standard. And this speech Lincoln gives was actually a pretty bug deal for Lincoln, who was relatively unknown at the time, and here he is issuing this rebuke of the president. But where he differed from Clay was in regards to the accusation on land, Lincoln didn’t really rule out the possibility of adding new territory, nor did he really address the issue of slavery.

But despite all this criticism that he faced from the public and from other politicians, Polk remained committed to the idea that the Mexicans were the aggressors. At his 3rd address to congress, kind of like a state of the union, but in this address Polk made it clear that he wanted Mexican land and basically that California was going to be part of the US, but there was still no end to the war and months had been going by and it wasn’t making Polk look good nor was it making him very happy. So Polk calls for Trist to return to Washington, effectively reliving him from his diplomatic duties. In Polk’s mind, Trist had failed. But Trist felt like he was making progress. More than that, Trist knew that the majority of Americans did not want this war to go on, he himself didn’t think it was very just, and he was afraid that if the US stop negotiating the war would continue and he saw the effects war was having on the soldiers, not only were they dying but they were also drinking and gambling and he did not think the war was doing positive things for American character. He also knew that the longer the war lasted pro-war democrats would just say hey lets take the whole country then, and Trist did not ant this either. So Trust does not want to leave. And so he doesn’t. What was also encouraging for Trist was Mexico’s new provisional president Manuel de la Pena y Pena. Who also was reading the terrain and knew that if Mexico didn’t sign a treaty eventually the US would just take the whole country over by force. So in refusing to leave, Trist writes Polk a 65-page response why he’s not leaving. Now remember, It wasn’t until mid-century when telegraphs made communicating easy, so correspondences between Mexico city and DC took some time to reach one another. So time goes by where Polk might think Trust is returning, but he’s not. He is no longer officially representing the US govt but he stays to negotiate a treaty. Trust and his Mexican counterparts meet in the town of Guadalupe Hidalgo and this is where they sign the treaty. And this treaty was basically everything that Polk wanted when he sent trust with the initial draft treaty, except the US would not acquire Baja California, but instead of having to give 20 million Trist negotiated it to 15. The treaty also gave certain civil rights to Mexicans living in the territories the US would acquire. The Rio Grande would become the border.
So as they are they’re signing the treaty one of the Mexican negotiators turned to Trist and said “” and Trist replied “”
But deep down trust was not proud of what he was doing he admitted to his family later “”
He didn’t believe in the cause and what the US was doing but he knew the war had to end. And again, to reiterate what I think is a fascinating point, he basically ends this war by himself with no authority from the US government to do so.

So Trist signs the treaty and sends it backs to Washington where it makes it there in about 17 days. So it was singed but was not official yet it still had to approve by Polk and the senate. When the treaty makes it to Polk, Polk finds himself kind of trapped, this treaty was not exactly what he wanted or promised to his supporters. He had people in his cabinet, Like James Buchanan, a future president, who thought they could get more land. But Polk also felt the pressure from the antiwar advocates and he knew how unpopular the war had become. He reflected on this moment saying “”

He also felt that is he didn’t sign the treaty congress would stop financing the war and he would basically end up with nothing. So, reluctantly he signs the treaty, and it passes in congress, the war comes to the end. All thanks to Nicholas Trist how seems like this unsung hero who ends a war. But Polk didn’t want to give trust any credit, Polk called him an impudent and unqualified scoundrel and withheld Trist’s pay that he earned while in Mexico and Polk basically ended Trist’s career and held this hatred of Trust to his grave. And no one came to trusts aid either it wasn’t until his 70th bday in 1870 that congress finally decided that they pay Trist the money he was owed. Nicholas Trist ends this war but is forgotten in history and was forgotten at the time.

Right he looks good from our perspective, he did have the moral high ground but he did disobey the order of the president so there is that

Early months of 1848 war comes to an end, and US gets this land, but we have to remember that with the US gained all this land, but there were people already living in this land

Elizabeth: And what’s interesting is that for Mexican Americans and even Native Americans who have struggled for their equality have gone back to the treaty of Hildago as the document that promises them right.

I think this story is important to us as we continue to have immigration debates and talk about building a wall between Mexico and America, it might be worth remembering that at one point a lot of country was Mexico. And communities and families had lived there and have their roots in land that is the US and yet they often live as outsiders. I think I could really push this point further, but I think it might be one that’s worth leaving there for right now. Because at the very least its worth considering this perspective.

Show Notes & Further Reading

Americo Paredes, With His Pistol in His Hand (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958).

Rodolfo Acuña, Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, vol. 1 (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1972).

Laura E. Gomez, Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race (New York: New York University Press, 2007).

Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny : The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981).

Raymund A. Paredes, “The Origins of Anti-Mexican Sentiment in the United States,” in Race and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Ages of Territorial and Market Expansion, 1840-1900, ed. Michael L. Krenn (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1998).

Arnoldo De Leon, “Initial Contacts: Redeeming Texas from Mexicans, 1821-1836,” in Race and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Ages of Territorial and Market Expansion, 1840-1900 (New York: Garland Pub., 1998).

Katherine Benton-Cohen, Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands, (Harvard University Press, 2011).

Watch the video: By 2050 Over Half of Americas Population Will Be Hispanic (August 2022).