In the aftermath of both May Day and militant anti-Trump rallies in California, led by Chicano and Mexicano youth, columnist Gustavo Arellano penned a piece titled “It’s Not Only OK for Activists to Wave the Mexican Flag at Protests—It’s Necessary.” He looks at the controversy of waving the Mexican flag at protests, decried not only by the cracker right wing but also by liberals who think it will hurt their cause. In the end he argues that it is right for the protesters to wave the flag, as an affirmation of our culture and resistance of a people that are under attack. I wholeheartedly agree.
On the issue of the Latino liberals having a problem with the Mexican flag, I have personal experience with this back in Denver, one incident during a immigration reform march on May Day in 2013. Below is a repost I helped write of a report-back of this march, originally published on the RAIM website at Anti-Imperialism.com. It is no longer posted there for some reason, but it exists through our then-publication, Seize The Time.
As documented here, the institutionalized immigrant rights leadership pursued a strategy of assimilation to achieve support for reform. Today in 2016, the result is Donald Trump, a neofascist demagogue, riding to win the Republican presidential nomination through the demonization of Mexicans and Muslims. Only through the independent and radical organizing of the masses of our people can we hope to resist the coming fascist onslaught from the mobilized reactionary settlers that Trump has brought to surface. That entails realizing and building our power, part of which comes through an understanding of our history and culture. So let the Mexican flag continue to be waved on occupied land!
Report from Denver May Day ‘Immigration Reform’ March
May Day is an annual international holiday for workers and oppressed peoples, and around the world this day was marked with militant demonstrations against capitalism and imperialism. A march and rally was also held in Denver focusing on immigration reform, and it was vastly different.
Radical communities in the city did not organize for May Day in 2013, so the event this year was put on by labor unions and foundation-funded nonprofits that are heavily tied to the Democratic Party. The message they spouted was one of assimilationism and pro-Amerikanism. The speakers were mostly made up of those groups along with elected officials and business leaders. Late notice for the event and a snowstorm kept turnout lower than previous years, yet about 200 people came out. In attendance were supporters of the IWW and the Occupy movement, along with a few activists wearing socialist and communist symbols. Nevertheless the organizers attempted to keep tight control on the messaging.
A small conflict happened at the beginning of the rally when some RAIM comrades came to the march with a Mexico flag, which we have brought to similar demonstrations to show support for Chicano/Mexicano liberation. Parade marshals attempted several times to make us remove the flag from the march, saying they did not want any “nationalist and polarizing” message to stain their event. Our comrades stood their ground and refused to remove the flag. It is not known if the march organizers attempted to suppress other messages they found offensive, but it was clear that the Mexico flag was too subversive for the leadership at this march.
The assimilationism got worse later on. The march ended at a nearby park which the march organizers renamed “Citizenship Park.” There, the organizers attempted to lead the mostly migrant participants in the Amerikan Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner. RAIM comrades did their best to not vomit. We spent the rest of the rally passing out fliers and talking to people.
The march was typical of many actions done by the nonprofit-industrial complex: lacking in militancy, direction, and vision. The groups are staff-run entities who attempt to steer their supporters into the sinkhole of the Democratic party. They believe, if they portray migrants as willing to assimilate into the dominant Amerikan culture, the people of U.S. will accept them with open arms. This ignores the whole history of genocide, slavery, and land theft carried out by the U.S. And, of course, there was little suggestion by the organizers that people from U.S. should assimilate with the rest of the world. All and all, the event was a spectacle of ‘leftist’ and ‘pro-immigrant’ Amerikan chauvinism.
The effects of US imperialism and parasitism are felt even within the struggles of migrants and oppressed nations. Thus it is not surprising, especially absent a radical mobilization, that some migrant communities can be swayed by the siren song of assimiliation and ‘Amerikan’ patriotism. Even as the U.S. tortures migrants, NGO ‘progressives’ and First Worldist ‘Marxism’ still exhort migrant communities toward pro-U.S. ideologies.
The program to put forward is one of national liberation and global revolution– in other words, the end of oppression and exploitation based on capitalism. Hopefully radicals in Denver can get it together next year on May Day to truly be on the side of the peoples of the world.