A Note on the Arizona Immigration Bill

Justin E. H. Smith in his eponymous blog:

ScreenHunter_01 Apr. 28 10.56 For a classic example of misplaced journalistic balance, read this New York Times article on the immigration 'debate' in Arizona. See how level-headed and concerned the supporters of the bill are! They don't hate Mexicans, see, it's just that they don't want them to be there illegally.

The problem with this is that the American West was only able to appear as Anglo territory, for a spell, as a result of a relatively recent (late 19th century) and concerted campaign of ethnic cleansing. It is astounding to me that people have to be reminded of the historical fact that in order for the American West to become white, other people had to be displaced. To the extent that Americans recognize this at all, they tend to remember the displacement as targeting Native Americans, in contrast with 'Hispanics'. But what this distinction misses is that the population of Mexico is somewhere between 60 and 80% Mestizo, and that for them the line drawn by the Gadsden Purchase of 1853 reflects no natural or deep-seated historical boundary.

Consider this map of the pre-contact distribution of the Uto-Aztecan languages: the colored parts on the US side correspond roughly to that region of the US with a significant Latino population today.

More here.