Three years ago:
In the 18th floor of the downtown skyscraper where my law office is, I look down into the central square of a major city in the Pacific Northwest. I see a sea of white, as the word has been passed to show up to the demonstration in plain white t-shirts. During the day, the downtown is a sea of European-Americans—businessmen, technicians, retail and restaurant owners, city and county government workers, attorneys, accountants, insurance executives. At night, things change, but the day is bright, downtown relatively safe and everyone is used to both how things work and how things look and feel.
Which is what made today so odd. Which goes a long way to explaining the nervous “can you believe this?” laugher from my high-flying Alpha-dog law colleagues, the slightly scared wide-eyed stares out the window of the solidly middle-class White secretaries. At first, they began to arrive in drips and drabs, but now they were arriving in mass. What began as a small cluster was now a gigantic throng of white-shirted latinos, all shouting and chanting against a modest proposal then before the House that would have restored some small semblance of sanity to what the elites call “immigration policy.”
Some arrived by light rail. Others in cars, packed with seven or eight each. Some simply appeared.
Questions began to be asked: Did you know this was happening today? Did you hear about this going down before today? These questions are being asked by people who are so well connected into the political and social structure of this city that they usually are the first to know what is happening, what has been planned, what shall occur.
The crowd begins to chant, in Spanish. There are thousands of them. Having learned their lesson from a few weeks earlier in Los Angeles, local latino leaders have giant cardboard boxes from which they are distributing U.S. flags.
The boxes are marked “Made in China.”
It’s going to be a hot day in Washington, D.C., but it’s not quite hot yet. Instead, the sky is a shimmering blue and the shade under the trees in the Mall is cooled by a lingering morning breeze. In front of us, looking slightly unreal, like a too-perfect movie backdrop, is the Capitol.
In front of me a crowd of latinos, university students and government union workers are gathering. At each side, a SEIU-manned station is passing out anti-Arizona signs and medium-sized U.S. flags from large cardboard boxes.
While there are some European-Americans mixed in the crowd—including one young woman with proud Nordic features holding the hand of a latino a foot and a half shorter than her whose t-shirt read “Brown is Beautiful”—the vast majority of the crowd is latino.
They’ve arrived and they know what side they’re on. As with three years ago, the means of their organization was completely invisible to the local European-Americans, still laboring under the fatal and dangerous delusion that the cities in question are still, despite their own rhetoric, their cities.
The enemy has an alternative media, an alternative radio. They have a news system of incredible sophistication and one which openly approaches U.S. news from an explicitly racial and ethnic angle. If you can speak Spanish at all, I invite you to compare NBC’s evening news broadcast with its sister station Univision. While NBC focuses on liver spots, Depends and the need for colon cancer screening, the news on Univision is focused on news: what is happening and what does it mean to us, to latinos, as latinos.
They can assemble a mass via radio. They can, and do, lobby Congress and each state legislature effectively. While our people are deciding which iPhone app to buy, a new people is organizing from the most basic level to the highest.
We are outclassed, outgunned and simply out of our league.
Arizona is a sign of possibility, nothing more. Until and unless we begin to organize, together, and most importantly drop the majority mind-set that we have time, that we have time to “wake up” our people, we will find ourselves lost.