President Dwight Eisenhower Donald Trump

 

Even before it was reported that a former Trump wife had accused him of rape, The Donald opened his presidential campaign by accusing immigrants from below the border, in large part, of being rapists. That was then; the now-"sensitive" Trump, in an interview, could not bring himself even to utter the title, "Operation Wetback" – right after touting that Eisenhower, Mexican roundup as his ideal!

 

Operation Wetback literally was a human roundup of about 250,000 people – not the million-plus misstated by Trump. It was the beginning of our today's south-of-the-border immigration problems.

 

Operation Wetback

 

After the touted, U.S. "Manifest Destiny" was sealed with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1848 –coincidentally, just prior to the announcement of gold at Sutter's Mill (chicanery?J). The Mexican American War obviously is the most productive of our foreign entanglements. The vast land area ceded by Mexico filled out the huge southwestern chunk of the U.S. mainland map as it exists today – with, perhaps, a bit of tweaking caused by vagaries in the flow pattern of the Rio Grande.

 

When Chicanos say, "We didn't cross the border; it crossed us," they ain't shittin' – that's the way it was. After the new boundaries were drawn, those caught on the northern side had to make a choice of allegiance to Mexico or the U.S. Thus began a century of very fluid and natural cross-border activity in the southwest. For a time, fences and border-crossing stations were either non-existent or ignored. The formalization of border activity developed slowly. Even as late as 1916, President Woodrow Wilson (BTW, a virulent racist) had no qualms about committing a "causus bellicus" by having General Pershing breach the border in pursuit of Pancho Villa.

 

When WWII drained off Anglo workers in the very racially restrictive southwest, the labor market became more available to Mexicans, both legal and illegal. Although field labor was almost exclusively Mexican, more "braceros" (workers) were brought up from Mexico through contracting. (A bit of digression is necessary here):

 

[The bulk of the discussion of U.S. racial discrimination and White Supremacy generally is White/Black, and mainly covers the northeastern states. Actually, the philosophy of White Male Superiority was engendered throughout the entirety of the U.S. mainland and off-shore territories, including the two that eventually became states: Alaska and Hawaii.

Mexicans were the, "Niggers" of the southwest – and sometimes a conflation of both, with a canine twist for good measure: "WE DO NOT SERVE NIGGERS, MEXICANS OR DOGS". The movie, "Giant" is a good primer in this regard. Least discussed is the racial bias directed at Native Americans, Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos. All were aware that they were living in the White Man's world – and had better know it and keep their place.]

 

After the war, the labor market had to be purged of women and minorities, in order to make room for the return of the conquering heroes' resumption of control. By the time Eisenhower took office in 1952, the agitation mills were already at full wind. The newspapers were carrying stories about the diseases, crime and general unrest due to "Wetbacks." (Actually, some of Donald Trump's rants would fit very comfortably within that milieu.)

 

Operation Wetback

 

Just as FDR was forced to round up the Japanese, DDE let them go ahead with Operation Wetback. It began in California, and eventually was extended to Arizona and Texas. Later, some Midwest states were involved. The streets, transportation systems and other public venues were scrutinized for anyone with a "Latin" appearance. Citizen and non-citizen alike was caught up in the net. The inability to speak English made arrest certain. There were no niceties; it was right to the border or straight to jail to await pick-up by Immigration. (Just down Trump's line: Grab 'em and drop-kick 'em over the border.)

 

This was prior to the Civil Rights revolution, so there was no organized outcry by minority groups or outraged members of the majority. This was the middle of the 20th century. It sharpens one's perception of Lincoln's plight, just a century earlier.

 

 

Following is a personal account of this writer's participation in Operation Wetback:

[In 1951, I was a member of the noted, "Hall Johnson Choir" in Los Angeles, where the Republican National Convention was held, which nominated Dwight D. Eisenhower for the presidency. Mr. Johnson received an invitation to have his choir sing at Convention Hall.

During the campaign, I witnessed a pitiful, scantily attended motorcade with Adlai Stevenson on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. It was an omen of the electoral thrashing he was to receive from Eisenhower.

A few years into the Eisenhower Administration, I answered an ad by the Los Angeles Police Department for Spanish-speaking civilian employees. After I was hired, it was explained that we would be needed to process prisoners to be detained during a program called, "Operation Wetback." Along with an Anglo employee hired for that same purpose, I was assigned to the Lincoln Heights Jail, just east of downtown Los Angeles.

When the operation started, they began to bring in vehicle loads of suspected illegal immigrants. Most were obvious farm workers, shabbily dressed and wearing, "huaraches," Mexican sandals. Most of this group was illiterate in any language. No one had identification, we had to start their dossiers from scratch, relying completely on what we were told. When it came to height and weight, they had not the slightest, so we had to weigh and measure them on the spot. (Just as well; we had no notion of kilos and meters.) That was the bulk of the people we had to interview, although there were some well-dressed, literate folk who did not speak English. When we completed our interviews, the detainees were taken to a holding cell until they were picked up by Immigration officials.

My humanity sensitivity was a part of the times. One had been conditioned to accept things as they came. It would have been interesting to peer 60 years into the future and listen to a presidential candidate pining for a repetition of precisely what one was witnessing at the time.]

 

 

Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Recent Articles
TOMMY’S TABLEAUS SALUTES LOS ANGELES
BRITS NEED BREXIT EXPERT: HENRY VIII
KENNEDYS PROVIDE A CLUE TO OUR RACIAL DIVIDE
TOMMY’S TABLEAUS NO. 7
TOMMY’S TABLEAUS NO. 6
USA SUPERIORITY PSYCHOSIS FUELS DNA INFERIORITY DIAGNOSIS

  • No comments found