Saturday, June 11, 2016

Deep in the Heart of Texas (1948)

From the August 1948 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of the many despised racial minorities in the United States are the Mexicans. Many of them are actually American citizens, descendants of those who happened to be on the spot when the United States extended its frontier to the Rio Grande after the Mexican War.

During recent years, however, many Mexicans have taken to migrating across the border into the U.S.A. to work for Southern farmers and planters, mainly as cotton pickers and also to help in the harvesting of seasonal crops like vegetables. They have usually been hired on a contract basis, returning to Mexico after the harvesting has been completed, although a small minority have remained as semi-permanent residents.

The Mexican Government has always kept a watchful and jealous eye on these workers and during the war was able to take advantage of the labour shortage to insist upon certain minimum conditions for them, which the farmers were forced to accept. Realising that it has still got the economic whip-hand, the Mexican Government has now thrown the farmers into a panic by announcing that it henceforth intends to forbid the entrance of Mexican workers into the United States unless Texas (one of the chief states involved) suspends social, educational, and economic discrimination against Mexicans and Mexican Americans in 38 specified school districts.

Says the American correspondent of the Manchester Guardian (6/7/48), obviously enjoying the joke:
“Thus compelled by a foreign Government to live up to the Declaration of Independence, which  Texans have been celebrating as lustily as any other group of Americans, the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association has promised to go around every one of these districts and persuade farmers and business men of the beauties of tolerance.”
Extra humour is added to the situation, the correspondent points out, because this crusade to impress upon Texas farmers, the virtues of racial tolerance happens to coincide with the Democratic Party’s Convention at Philadelphia which is meeting to decide whether to run President Truman for a second term of office. Truman, who always seems to be dropping bricks, somewhere, has dropped yet another by submitting to Congress a series of laws against racial discrimination. Having done this without apparently first finding out what the rest of the Democratic Party thought about it, he has now asked them to incorporate these laws into their electoral programme. Unfortunately for Mr. Truman, all the Democrats, particularly the Southern Democrats, are very far from seeing eye to eye with him on this issue, and the whole Party has been set into a ferment. As for the Texas delegation, which represents among others the interests of the cotton growers, and other big farmers, they must be suffering from an even bigger headache than the rest. What are they to do? Renounce their prejudices and save their crops or stand by their prejudices and run the risk of losing their crops?

Life must indeed appear hard to the racialist when he has to choose between his pocket and his prejudices.
Stan Hampson

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