Open Letter: Response to Senator Mike Lee’s block to the Latino History Museum
When a matter is brought to my attention, I like to scrutinize and explore the subject before reaching a conclusion. I did just that when I was asked to write this article in response to the Senator Mike Lee of Utah, objected to the creation of a Latino Museum at the Smithsonian.
(Watch/Listen Senator Lee’s Speech Here: Remarks Objecting to New Smithsonian Museums) By appearance, someone who would block a bipartisan effort to create a Latino Museum sounds unjustified and divisive. Especially when the Smithsonian Institution task force published a report in 1994 called, “Willful Neglect” concluded that “the institution almost entirely excludes and ignores Latinos in nearly every aspect of its operations.”
However, one should note that since then, efforts have been made to solve this issue by the Smithsonian Latino Center being established and hiring more Latino employees. But, in regards to the preservation of history, Latinos are all but absent. Senator Lee said the following:
“The Smithsonian institution should not have an exclusive museum of American Latino history, or a museum of women’s history, or a museum of American men’s history, or Mormon history, or Asian American history, or catholic history… American history is an inclusive story that should
However, there is a museum exclusive to African Americans and the Holocaust. One can argue if those exist, why can’t one dedicated to preserving Latino history exist? Currently, the USA’s Hispanic population makes up almost 18% of the nation’s total population and is the largest ethnic group. These are not all immigrants, but second, third, fourth generations born in US Soil. Many have assimilated without knowing their history or the difference Latinos have made in this country. Our numbers alone prove Latinos are part of what makes America whole.
I’m the first American among my immediate family, and I grew up in Houston, TX, a melting pot for so many cultures but predominately Latino. It would be hard to say that places like Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Austin, etc., don’t have a majority of Latinos or strong Spanish/Mexican influences.
As I was growing up, I heard all the stories behind the Texas Revolution, but never of José Gregorio Esparza, who fought and died with the likes of the infamous James Bowie at the Siege of the Alamo. It’s even said that Juan Seguín, also a Texan Revolutionist, was one of the founding fathers of the Democrat party. (If only he could see what it has become…)
How about the 500,000+ Latinos (including 350,000 Mexican Americans and 53,000 Puerto Ricans) who served in WWII? Did you know that Latina Women, in particular, broke through gender and cultural obstacles to serve their country in cryptology, communications, and interpretations, and as linguists, nurses, and even in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve?
Have you heard of the “Pied Piper of Saipan?” A Mexican- American named Guy Gabaldon, who served on Saipan as a Marine PFC, who learned Japanese back home in East Los Angeles, and captured 1500 Japanese soldiers. That’s how he got the aforementioned moniker. Who do you think spoke Spanish to the Filipinos during the war and were tasked with protecting the Philippines’ defense?
Yes, the American story is inclusive, but only if it’s told and preserved. The untold Latino American history isn’t just for Latinos, but for all Americans. Objectively speaking, I can agree with Senator Mike Lee’s sound objection. That is not a typo. I took the time to listen and transcribe his actual speech to understand what he is saying.
His concerns are justified with today’s political and violent climate. We have the leftist-extremists who will do everything possible to make everything about racism, identity politics, and cancel culture. I, for one, cannot stand the demonization of America or white people.
“Now we’ve seen in recent years what happens when we indulge the cultural and identity balkanization of our national community. The so-called critical theory undergirding this movement does not celebrate diversity; it weaponizes diversity. It sharpens all those hyphens into so many knives and daggers. It has turned our college campuses into grievance pageants and loosed Orwellian mobs to cancel anyone daring to express an original thought.”
And Mike Lee is right. The left has weaponized diversity to suppress our freedom to have an original thought. If it is not in line with what the left thinks, then it’s canceled or demonized. Why is this happening? Why is it that there so many Latino-American communities convinced Republicans are racist and Democrats(who have consistently failed to help Latino communities) are the answer? Even the new generations of Americans have forgotten that during the Civil War, it was the Republicans who were fighting on the side against slavery in the South.
Our American history has been replaced with leftist propaganda and forgotten because the Republican party has not invested enough to preserve our history, protect it, and teach it. Or else, we would not have generations of Latinos, like myself, who are indoctrinated since birth to believe the Republican party is racist and immoral, amongst other things. As you know, history is doomed to repeat itself when we do not learn from it.
I want to hold Senator Mike Lee to his own words,
“But if American Latino or American women’s history are being underrepresented at the museum of American history, that is a problem. And that’s the problem that we should address here. I’ll happily work with him [Senator of New Jersey] or anyone else to correct those problems, even if it means more money, more exhibits, new floors, or wings. I understand what my colleagues are trying to do and why, and I respect what they’re trying to do, and I even share their interest in ensuring that these stories are told.”
Senator Lee, I am not interested in identity politics or further division either. We ask for the preservation and the platform to tell these Latino stories to all Americans. On behalf of the RNHA, what must we do to have your support and proceed, where we do not further divide but rather unite as Americans and tell these American stories?