Trump brought his Social Indigestion Tour to Anaheim; Acid Reflux Ensued.

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vern sign

So, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump came to Anaheim last Wednesday.  “Who is this Trump you speak of?” you ask, “and what does he portend?”  So glad you asked, I’ve been thinking about this a lot.

As we all know, at times of economic stress especially, a big reactionary chunk of society tends to look to minorities to scapegoat for its financial and cultural insecurities.  In our land and our time this mostly happens to immigrants from Mexico, usually (now that it’s generally considered uncool to be “racist”) with an emphasis on the legality of their immigration status.  This ugly sentiment is impervious to fact and reason, as the (mostly) white folks who blame all their problems on “illegals from Mexico” refuse to accept simple facts like:

  • these mexican driverimmigrants are a net gain to us,
  • they’re actually ineligible for most of the social welfare programs they’re supposedly getting,
  • we rely on their cheap labor every damn hour, without which many of our prices would go through the roof,
  • they are statistically FAR less likely to be criminals (besides their immigration status) than the rest of us,
  • it’s difficult-near-impossible to get legal status these days until there is some serious immigration reform, which the same politicians who bitch about “illegals” refuse to enact,
  • and immigration from Mexico has been at net zero for several years now, between Obama’s stringent enforcement and deportations, our own weak economy, and Mexico’s improving conditions.  

No matter.  Things aren’t as good for us here as we would like, and it must be the fault of the illegals.

Coe memorabilia circa 2010.

Coe memorabilia circa 2010.

But before Trump came down that escalator earlier this year, I had heard less and less of that talk – from politicians, and from regular folks.  I’d started to think we’d gotten over it.  I had identified the year 2010, here in the OC and nationwide, as the high-water mark of Republicans and other reactionaries hating-on Mexicans – that was the zenith of the Minutemen and Barbara Coe‘s hate group, the race-baiting of Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor and Congressional candidate Tan Nguyen, OC cities racing to name themselvesRule-by-Law Cities and support Arizona’s papers-please law, and Sheriff candidate Bill Hunt‘s bringing America’s Worst Sheriff Joe Arpaio out here twice for fundraisers. 

Since that year that sort of talk and demagoguery had toned down.  Partly, the Republican Party was making half-hearted efforts to appeal to America’s constantly-growing Latino demographic, 90% of whom, no matter their status, correctly take white reactionaries’ obsession with illegals as a hostility to and fear of Latinos in general.  Gradually, since around 2010, you heard less and less bashing of “illegals” on the streets or anywhere, except muttered quietly between kindred souls – it had just become less socially acceptable.

Pero, then:

escalator

When Trump hit the Presidential trail with his talk of murdering, raping, drug-pushing Mexicans rushing across the borders, with his bluster about building a Wall and making Mexico pay for it, of deporting every one of the 16 million undocumented people here, he woke all of that hatred right up again, showing that anti-Mexican animus had never gone away, was only temporarily submerged.  And the more America’s reactionaries saw his success in the polls, and realized that they were not alone in their hatred, fear and victimization, they felt strengthened and vindicated.  “We are the silent majority,” one of them told me Wednesday, and are we going to prove him wrong in November?

Looking at it this way, you understand how Latin-Americans, Muslims, and others see Trump as more than just an unsavory candidate, but an existential threat, an evil spirit that unleashed a national hatred against them that had been subsiding, and you understand the passion and even occasional violence of their reactions.

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boys and family signWhen Congressional candidate Joe Dunn first came to my barrio of Anna Drive last month (I’ll have a story about that visit soon) the residents had a lot of questions about immigration reform, education, and other issues, but they kept going back to their worry over a President Donald Trump.  (Joe was able to say, truthfully, that alone among the candidates for that seat, he had personally fought Trump – and won – more than once, most recently helping to unionize the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.)

Once or twice a week we do art and music with the local kids in the courtyard.  A couple weeks ago one little boy (born here, a citizen, and NOT one pictured to the right) finished singing a couple patriotic songs he’d learned at school, “She’s a Grand Old Flag” and “Yankee Doodle,” and then, when I mentioned something about being American, shot back, “I hate Americans, I’m a Mexican.”  Donna looked at me sadly and observed, “This is what Donald Trump is doing to people here.”

Last night we did art again, and the little girls kept asking when the election would be so they’d know who the President would be.  We told them to make sure that all the grownups they knew, who could, get out to vote, anyone 18 or older.  11-year old Anita was so eager to vote against Trump that she came up with an idea:  “Maybe if I wear high heels and make-up, they’ll let me vote!”  We laughed a lot … but I do predict a huge Latino turnout for Hillary.

But let’s get back to Wednesday.  

copsI was there right in front of the Convention Center from before the event (around 11:30) to well after it (around 3) and then I came back in the evening to check out the alleged mini-riots.  I didn’t see any of the mini-violence the Voice and the Weekly reported on, which apparently consisted of a few push-fights, some poorly thrown eggs and rocks, and a couple of fizzled attempts to light trash cans on fire.  

What I saw was many times more cops than protesters.  It looked like August 2012 all over again, as the APD (which couldn’t get more than a few undercover guys to February’s KKK rally, not even enough to prevent fistfights and stabbings) when faced with the fear of a brown uprising, went into overdrive again with military hardware, SWAT Teams, equestrian units, and guest police and sheriff agencies hailing from Los Angeles to Laguna Beach.  And whenever I saw them they were either standing around bored or marching back and forth in formation like militias. 

Weekly photo

Weekly photo

WHO PAID FOR ALL THIS POLICING OVERKILL?  One person asking that question out loud was a Spanish-language journalist, shortly before being kicked by a police horse and taken to a hospital with seizures.  Some dillwad photographer with (I forget) ABC or NBC yelled back, “Donald Trump will pay for it, just like he paid for that damaged car in Costa Mesa!  Of course he will!  He’s a great guy!”  He was not even being sarcastic.  I responded, “Are you sure?  I kind of doubt it.  He’s spent his whole life paying for as little as he can get away with.”

Voice photo

Voice photo

I was right of course.  The Anaheim Police Department confirms to me that, while the “Presidential campaign” paid for “some for the security costs within the venue” [only SOME?], you and me, the OC and Anaheim taxpayer, paid for the military spectacle outside.  How much will that be, I asked?  Detective Laura Lomeli cannot tell me for sure “until the participating agencies submit their invoices in a few weeks.”  Great.  I’m gonna stay on this, gentle reader, but for now we can guess along the lines of an early August 2012 post-riot Sunday protest, which cost us taxpayers around $200,000.

Well, was all this display worth it at least?  What mayhem was prevented?  How many arrests were made?  “22 arrests for the day. One for selling t-shirts without a business license, two for urinating in public and the rest for vandalism or failing to disperse.”  Beautiful.  What an important use of our $200,000.  (I’ll get back to you-all if it’s less or more.)

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At one point after the event had let out, the cops corralled a few dozen of us Trump opponents and supporters together by a bus stop across Katella, and wouldn’t let any of us leave for like an hour, while helicopters up above blared something about “unlawful assembly.”  As though they were hoping we would come to blows and they could then have some fun.  But after some of my people tired of yelling “Racist!” and some of their people tired of yelling “Go back to Mexico,” we all talked to each other a bit.

trump hairOne well-dressed and articulate young white man really wanted us to believe that Trump “is a unifying character, he wants to bring all of us TOGETHER.  That’s what he was saying in there, you should have heard him.”   Me:  “I figured he’d start saying stuff like that now that he’s got the nomination wrapped up.  But how can you trust him when he changes his tune so often?”  These Trumpsters give the man all kinds of credit for “honesty” just because he’s blunt and uncouth and blurts out whatever comes to the front of his brain;  but has any politician contradicted himself so many times in such a short career?  I quoted King Lear:

This is some fellow,
Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
A saucy roughness and constrains the garb
Quite from his nature. He cannot flatter, he.
An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth.
An they will take it, so. If not, he’s plain.
These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness
Harbor more craft and more corrupter ends

Than twenty silly-ducking observants
That stretch their duties nicely.


There are things we can discuss with these people, but only to a degree, as some of their beliefs are just as absurd as they are unshakable.  They firmly disbelieve every immigration fact I listed above, and don’t even get them started on Islam – these people wake each night with fever dreams of living under Shari’a Law!  There are two surefire ways to make them roll around laughing as though you were comedy gold, and I used ’em both:  1)  Tell them immigration from Mexico has been zeroed out for years;  and 2) Tell them Hillary Clinton, while maybe not as honest as Bernie Sanders, is still about a hundred times more honest than their guy.

coconut

Is this the place to mention the Cocos Orgullosos (Proud Coconuts?) Yes, I think it is.  Brown on the outside and white on the inside, prized and coddled like a black conservative, their constant refrain is “MY family followed the rules.  WE did it right.  Why can’t everybody else just FOLLOW THE RULES?”  I met at least two of these characters that day, and they seemed to feel really special and unique backing Trump and letting the rest of the crowd feel not racist.  99% of Latinos, knowing first or secondhand how Kafkaesque today’s immigration system is, spit on their chanclas.

Voice picture - Victor, US flag, Trump piñata.

Voice picture – Victor, US flag, Trump piñata.

Victor Experiences Blowback

vern and victorMy good friend, the 30-year old community organizer from Huntington Beach’s Oak View barrio, Victor Valladares, got a lot of attention and press that day.  Pretty new to politics, he’s been at the forefront of improving his neighborhood in many ways, from pushing Rainbow Dump to enclose to fighting slumlords, to getting his more slovenly neighbors to clean up after themselves.  Highly impressed, the big-hearted Republican Tea-Partying HB councilman Erik Peterson named him to HB’s Citizens Participation Advisory Board.  And you may remember me helping him to get signatures to get on the Democratic Central Committee.

Well, shortly before this rally, Victor was hired as an intern by the OC Weekly, and his first assignment was to get inside the rally and hand out poster-sized copies of a recent, controversial Weekly cover – featuring Lalo Alcaraz’ scabrous drawing of Trump getting mounted by a donkey.  Victor’s uncle attended the rally as well, bringing a very popular item among Mexicans these days – a Donald Trump piñata!  Victor tells the rest of the story here, and this video helps:

Cue the faux-outrage down in Surf City, orchestrated and conducted by Oak View foe and Rainbow shill, the former journalist Chris Epting.  You’d think some of these people had never hit a piñata before.  (I know WE had ’em when we were kids!)  Chris labored tirelessly for a day or two to tie Victor’s irreverent anti-Trump theater to Ocean View School District President Gina Clayton-Tarvin, as well as Councilman Peterson, the latter of whom at least probably was a little embarrassed by his appointee lampooning the Republican nominee.

After a day or two, Victor sadly resigned his appointed position, putting a good face on it – he was honored to have been appointed by Peterson, but he will now be freer to express his political views, and have more time to help his community.  But I know the young man is hurt, by so many people who were close to him turning on him.  He talks about building up “scar tissue” from this sort of thing, and claims he may have actually stopped a possible riot by providing the piñata as an outlet.  And meanwhile, the whole episode, added on to many other things, causes me to finally pose the question:

Is Epting a Racist?

John Earl has been claiming for years that Chris Epting is an anti-Mexican racist, based mostly on two facts: he’d put together a book of photographs of Huntington Beach history that included not one Latin- or native-American, AND he was a tireless unquestioning supporter of the trigger-happy border guards Ramos and Compean, even when John tried to show him evidence that they had fired at an immigrant with no provocation and then lied about it.

This came back into my mind just the other day, when I wrote my Memorial Day piece about 100-year old HB bronze star recipient Luis Cardenas.  I’m glad I got to write the piece, but the family only contacted me AFTER Epting had blown them off – and it SHOULD be exactly the kind of thing Epting would write, except for the fact that Luis was a “frijole.”

Epting Allen BabashhoffThen I asked a big group of friends if they could remember Chris EVER, in his dozens of books and hundreds of HB Independent articles, writing anything positive about ANY Latin-Americans.  Everyone drew a blank … until one lady uncovered a chapter about boxer Tito Ortiz in one of his books about famous HB people.  (Tito coincidentally being a rare Latino Trump supporter, a “coco orgulloso.”)

Add to that:

  • In 14 years of writing weekly columns about all of HB he has never written anything positive about Oak View or HB’s other barrios;
  • when I suggested he write a book about the history of Oak View he acted like it was the stupidest idea in the world;
  • He has this permanent patronizing assumption that Victor Valladares, Oscar Rodriguez, and other Oak View activists must be Gina Clayton-Tarvin’s brainless tools;
  • and he likes to call Gustavo racist just for sticking up for his own raza with general good humor.

Patrick “Garbaginati” Mahoney says I shouldn’t call Epting racist – what he actually is, opines Patrick, is something much more dangerous – someone who gins up other people’s racist resentments to further his own political goals.  Hey, two things:  1)  I didn’t CALL Chris racist, I merely “posed the question” as Chris loves to say (jajaja);  and 2) It sounds like Patrick is also describing Trump, so let’s get back to our main story…

Parable of the Stomp Sign.

The Voice of OC’s Adam and I had a chuckle over this video, of some knucklehead (who Adam said was earlier trying to throw rocks at cops) trying and failing to stomp down this stop sign.  But wait – what if this was not actually a knucklehead?  What if he was trying to make a point, trying to teach us all a lesson?

WHAT IF, by demonstrating that no matter how hard you try to stomp down the stop sign, it will not stay down, and will instead bang you in the balls, this gifted young man is creating a metaphor for our times?  

What if this youthful sage is playing the role of the oppressive government, or the repressive reactionary plurality in society, and the stomp sign is intended as a symbol for the rest of us downtrodden but indestructible masses, and his balls represent … I don’t know, the halls of political or economic power?

What if the young man is playing Trump and his supporters, and the stomp sign represents Latinos, Muslims, women, everyone stomped on by Trump, and all THEIR millions of supporters?

I’m just saying.  Oh, and I went and checked on that stop sign and it’s fine now.

And then there’s this:

 


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.