No Walls For Donald: The Vilification of Latin America in U.S. Political Culture

Image: Border Field State Park, California. An individual sits on top of the wall while he keeps an eye on National Guard troops. Photo by Adriana Jasso, November 23, 2019.


150-Word Synopsis: 

No Walls For Donald: The Vilification of Latin America in U.S. Political Culture examines the marginalization of Latina/o/x communities, Latin American geographies of political-economic power, and the strategic excoriation of Latin American people within U.S. political culture. The book builds on the premise that the vilification of Latin America in contemporary U.S. political discourse is not simply a bigoted tactic for short-term political gain, but as the title suggests, it also represents a long-held bipartisan state of affairs rooted in legacies of U.S. interventionism. No Walls For Donald is a timely contribution to research into digital media practices & disinformation, political communication, Chicana/o/x & Latina/o/x Studies, and Latin American Studies. It will interest students and scholars in the social sciences and humanities, and the general public interested in ethnic studies, U.S. history of race relations, and social justice.


Synopsis: 

No Walls For Donald: The Vilification of Latin America in U.S. Political Culture is an examination of the marginalization of Latina/o/x[1]In the preface of No Walls For Donald, I include a brief survey of Latin American and indigenous identities. I explain why, rather than using Hispanic or Latinx, I prefer to use national … Continue reading communities, Latin American geographies of political power that perpetuate their balkanization, and the strategic excoriation of Latin American people within U.S. political culture. The book builds on the premise that the vilification of Latin America in contemporary U.S. political discourse is not simply a bigoted tactic for short-term political gain, but it also represents a long-held bipartisan state of affairs rooted in legacies of U.S. interventionism. Indeed, the book’s principal arguments are that the trumpian vilification of Latin America embodies the long-term mediatization of U.S. political culture, and places Latin American working-class peoples in the crosshairs of North American and Latin American fascist movements.

To be sure, the cornerstone of the socio-political movement known as “MAGA” was the relentless vilification of Latin American people, particularly people of Mexican descent. Each chapter of No Walls For Donald opens with a brief case study of how the MAGA movement summoned these inchoate anti-Latin American tendencies. These cases center on what was new within the movement, such as Trump’s truculent enthusiasm to engage in this type of political communication, the ideological discipline of the GOP and their cable news allies to reproduce it, and the speed and scale of right-wing digital media to ensure maximum exposure. Despite the novel conjuring of spiked walls, migrant caravans, tattoo-faced gang members, drug dealers, and rapists, Trump’s MAGA branding of anti-Latin Americanism builds on a well-documented history of calculated, media-centered chauvinism used to redirect public attention away from large-scale scandals and systemic crises. Indeed, right-wing militants frequently channel long-held, deeply-rooted anxieties about the “browning of America” to rally their base against this existential threat to the status quo within the United States, and leverage these anxieties to secure electoral victories and policy outcomes.[2]These anxieties were outlined during the 1990s in works by Samuel Huntington and Pat Buchanan, and are a central theme within the Great Replacement theory and fears regarding the “browning of … Continue reading 

As the title No Walls For Donald suggests, these MAGA case studies only serve to exemplify the historically consistent ordering logic of this type of racial scapegoating entrenched within bipartisan U.S. policies words Latin America.[3]Hughey & González-Lesser, 2020; González & Torres, 2011; Jacobs, 2009. Each chapter of the book looks beyond MAGA to make the case that the United States is now one of the most consequential regions of Latin America, and that the demonstrably anti-Latin American nature of contemporary U.S. politics betrays an ethnocentric recognition of this manifest inevitability. Most notably, the book provides a granular examination of why powerful transnational interests in the U.S. and Latin America are united in their untenable support of an undemocratic and violent political and economic status quo in North, Central, and South America.[4]Gonzales, 2014; González, 2022. 

Conceptually, the book draws from a range of quantitative and qualitative methods organized around a framework known as the mediatization of politics. Mediatization is “shorthand for all the transformations of communicative and social processes, and the social and practical forms built from them, which follow from our increasing reliance on technologically and institutionally based processes of mediation as a metaprocess linked to globalization and neoliberalism.[5]Couldry & Hepp, 2013. See also Couldry & Hepp, 2017; Landerer, 2013; Hjarvard, 2008; Krotz, 2009; Simón Salazar, 2018. I build on this definition by focusing on the dynamic relationship between mediated and natural manifestations of a phenomenon, particularly the differentiation between these two dimensions (for example, the trumpian vilification of Latin American people versus the legacy U.S. interventionism, the political economy of border enforcement, etc.). The differentiation, or gap, between these two dimensions, is most representative of the mediatization circuit because it signals a disjuncture between political culture and the unmediated, corporeal configuration of political and economic power.[6]Simón Salazar, 2020. 

My use of this socioculturalmediatization framework in No Walls For Donald enlists conceptual tools necessary to track and compare common dynamics within contemporary media practices, particularly the instrumentalization of ethnic and racial conflict as an increasingly salient aspect of U.S. political communication and civic culture. Our recent experiences with trumpism provide a glimpse of how the continuing political crisis will manifest in our proximate future within the context of the ongoing Latin Americanization of the United States. Moreover, my contribution to this topic is rooted in a community-centered media studies perspective.

No Walls For Donald is a timely contribution to research into digital media practices & disinformation, political communication, Chicana/o/x & Latina/o/x Studies, and Latin American Studies. It will interest students and scholars in the social sciences and humanities, and the general public interested in ethnic studies, U.S. history of race relations, and social justice.

No Walls For Donald includes various comparative, mixed-methods examinations:

  • The 2018 Central American migrant caravans.
  • The 2020 U.S. Census undercounts.
  • COVID mortality rates and transnational pandemic-related misinformation.
  • Latina/o/x electoral outreach strategies.
  • Politicized media representations of migration and border enforcement.
  • Transnational, multilingual digital media practices.
  • The U.S. bilingual media market’s fractured status.

Table Of Contents:

  • Preface.
  • Introduction: “The Anti-Raza Cornerstone of Trumpism”
  • Chapter 1. “Build The Wall”
  • Chapter 2. “The North-South Wall”
  • Chapter 3. “The Right-Left Wall”
  • Chapter 4. “The Ethnic-Racial Wall”
  • Chapter 5. “The English-Spanish Wall”
  • Chapter 6. “The Two-Party Wall”
  • Conclusion.
  • Appendix, Notes, References, Index.

References:

Armenta, A. (2017). Protect, Serve, and Deport: The Rise of Policing as Immigration Enforcement. University of California Press.

Benkler, Y., Faris, R., & Roberts, H. (2018). Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics. Oxford University Press.

Bennett, W.L., & Livingston, S., Eds. (2020). The Disinformation Age: Politics, Technology, and Disruptive Communication in the United States. Cambridge University Press.

Boczkowski, P., & Papacharissi, Z., Eds. (2018). Trump and the Media. The MIT Press.

Buchanan, P. J. (2002). The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization. Griffin.

Cadava, G. (2021). The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of an American Political Identity, from Nixon to Trump. Ecco.

Chavez, L. (2013). The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation. Stanford University Press.

Couldry, N., & Hepp, A., Eds. (2013). Special issue: Conceptualizing mediatization. Communication Theory, 23(3).

Couldry, N., & Hepp, A. (2017). The Mediated Construction of Reality. Polity Press.

Dávila, A. (2012). Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and Making of a People. University of California Press.

Davis, M. (2018). Prisoners of the American Dream: Politics and Economy in the History of the US Working Class. Verso.

Flores, A. (2017, September 18). How the U.S. Hispanic population is changing. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/18/how-the-u-s-hispanic-population-is-changing/

Flores-González, N. (2017). Citizens but Not Americans: Race and Belonging among Latino Millennials. NYU Press.

García, M. T. (2018). The Latino Generation: Voices of the New America. The University of North Carolina Press.

Gómez, L. E. (2020). Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism. The New Press.

Gonzales, A. (2013). Reform without Justice: Latino Migrant Politics and the Homeland Security State. Oxford University Press.

Gonzales, P. B., Rosaldo, R., & Pratt, M. L. (2021). Trumpism, Mexican America, and the Struggle for Latinx Citizenship. University of New Mexico Press.

González, J. (2022). Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America: Second Revised and Updated Edition. Penguin Books.

González, J. & Torres, J. (2011). News For All The People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media. Verso.

Guerrero, J. (2020). Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda. William Morrow.

Hirschfeld Davis, J., & Shear, M. (2019). Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration. Simon & Schuster.

Hjarvard, S. (2008). The mediatization of society: A theory of the media as agents of social and cultural change. Nordicom Review, 29(2), 105–134.

HoSang, D. M., & Lowndes, J. E. (2019). Producers, Parasites, Patriots: Race and the New Right-Wing Politics of Precarity. Univ Of Minnesota Press.

Hughey, M., & González-Lesser, E. (2020). Racialized Media: The Design, Delivery, and Decoding of Race and Ethnicity. NYU Press.

Huntington, S. P. (1993). The Clash of Civilizations? Foreign Affairs, 72(3), 22. https://doi.org/10.2307/20045621

Huntington, S. P. (2004). The Hispanic Challenge. Foreign Policy, 141, 30. https://doi.org/10.2307/4147547

Huntington, S. P. (2005). Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity. Simon & Schuster.

Jacobs, R. (2009). Race, Media, and the Crisis of Civil Society: From Watts to Rodney King. Cambridge University Press.

Jardina, A. (2019). White Identity Politics. Cambridge University Press.

Krotz, F. (2009). Mediatization: A concept with which to grasp media and societal change. In K. Lundby (Ed.), Mediatization: Concepts, changes, consequences (pp. 21–40). Peter Lang.

Landerer, N. (2013). Rethinking the logics: A conceptual framework for the mediatization of politics. Communication Theory, 23(3), 239–258.

Lee, E. (2019). America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States. Hachette Book Group.

McIntosh, J., & Mendoza-Denton, N., Eds. (2020). Language in the Trump Era: Scandals and Emergencies. Cambridge University Press.

Milkman, R. (2020). Immigrant Labor and the New Precariat. Amsterdam University Press.

Morales, E. (2019). Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture. Verso.

Peck, R. (2019). Fox Populism: Branding Conservatism as Working Class. Cambridge University Press.

Ramirez, M., & Peterson, D. (2020). Ignored Racism: White Animus Toward Latinos. Cambridge University Press.

Ramos, P. (2020). Finding Latinx: In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity. Vintage.

Rocco, R. A. (2014). Transforming Citizenship: Democracy, Membership, and Belonging in Latino Communities. Michigan State University Press.

Rodríguez-Muñiz, M. (2021). Figures of the Future: Latino Civil Rights and the Politics of Demographic Change. Princeton University Press.

Sampaio, A. (2015). Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants: Race, Gender, and Immigration Politics in the Age of Security. Temple University Press.

Soboroff, J. (2020). Separated: Inside an American Tragedy. New York: HarperCollins.

Simón Salazar, H. L. (2018). Television, Democracy, and the Mediatization of Chilean Politics. Lexington Books.

Simón Salazar, H. L. (2020). The Mediatization of Human Rights Memory in Chile. Communication Theory, 30(2020), 429-448.

Sundstrom, R. R. (2008). The Browning of America and the Evasion of Social Justice. Amsterdam University Press.

Torres, R. D., Ibarra, A., & Carlos, A. (2018). The Latino Question: Politics, Laboring Classes and the Next Left. Pluto Press.

Notes

Notes
1In the preface of No Walls For Donald, I include a brief survey of Latin American and indigenous identities. I explain why, rather than using Hispanic or Latinx, I prefer to use national identifiers, Chicana/o/x, Latina/o/x, and the term raza throughout the book. I do this by historicizing these terms and their sociopoltical roots in working-class socio-political struggles that began taking shape in the U.S. in the 1950s. By the 1960s, the term “raza” was used by activists as a pan-Latin American identity. Since then, it has been used to recognize and honor the indigeneity of Latin American people and the gender-neutral, working-class, multi-racial, multi-ethnic diversity of the Americas. I also address how contemporary criticisms of the term are generally rooted in disingenuous right-wing misrepresentations, claiming that it is “racist” because of its direct English translation into race.
2These anxieties were outlined during the 1990s in works by Samuel Huntington and Pat Buchanan, and are a central theme within the Great Replacement theory and fears regarding the “browning of America.” The political potency of these ideas was tested and confirmed in California during Pete Wilson’s rise to that state’s governorship (Chavez, 2013; Flores-González, 2017; Gonzales et al., 2021; Jardina, 2019; Rodríguez-Muñiz, 2021; Sundstrom, 2008). For information about trumpian media practices, see Benkler et al. 2018; Bennett et al. 2020; and Boczkowski et al. 2018.
3Hughey & González-Lesser, 2020; González & Torres, 2011; Jacobs, 2009.
4Gonzales, 2014; González, 2022.
5Couldry & Hepp, 2013. See also Couldry & Hepp, 2017; Landerer, 2013; Hjarvard, 2008; Krotz, 2009; Simón Salazar, 2018.
6Simón Salazar, 2020.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *