Ugh. So, on New Year’s Eve, I swore off internet drama (for the umpteenth time) and vowed to head into 2018 sucka free, but here I am again, asking for trouble. But I feel that I need to speak on this issue, if for nothing else, for my own peace of mind. Recently, I learned that writer, Gustavo Arellano (former editor of the OC Weekly), was hired by online Latino rag, Remezcla, as an editor, only to be fired by them a couple days later due to the threat of a boycott by a small group of hysterical people online. Naturally, I followed the story and instantly recognized the social media pitchforks and torches used, because they were used on me not too long ago. It’s always crazy how small the web is but I digress.
I’ve published Arellano before, several times actually. I published an essay by him in ¡Ban This! about Chicano food unique to my hometown (Denver). I published him again in Lowriting, and he also wrote the foreword to #FuckCancer. He was also cool enough to speak with me and others at a panel which aired on C-SPAN for ¡Ban This! at the Tucson Festival of Books. In addition to this, we’ve also broke bread together, which I don’t take lightly with anyone, and I attended one of his Bordertown episode screenings. Needless to say, we have some history.
That said, we had a falling out a couple of years ago over…what else? Twitter drama, which is a shame, and really, pretty stupid now that I think about it. We haven’t spoken in years and that’s fine, albeit a bit strange considering I’ve published him numerous times, but the publishing business is like that. Still, it always sucks losing a friend and I do not harbor any ill will towards him and wish him well in all that he does…which brings me to current events, where he was dragged through the mud by an angry twitter mob, resulting in him losing a gig.
These kinds of things are way too common now and you likely won’t read about what went down but I took issue with it because the same kind of mob mentality has been used on myself and others in the past. After it was announced that he was hired, Arellano was immediately smeared online as a “racist,” a “homophobe,” and for being “transphobic.” This went on ad nauseam with the hashtag #BoycottGustavoArellano on Twitter. All of these words are all too familiar to me because I have been called the same, repeatedly, by the same type of mob. He was also called a “dinosaur,” which made me laugh because that one has been hurled at me as well. Ha!
Anyway, Remezcla, rather than standing up for their new hire, consequently embarrassed themselves and lost any credibility they had by kowtowing to the small but angry mob, despite there being zero evidence for any of the accusations. “Twitter justice,” as the kids call it these days, was served, with proclamations of “YAAAASSSSSS!!!” all around.
Why do I bring this up? Because it’s worth noting that these past few years, these kinds of attacks come not from angry mobs of white supremacists, nor from frothing at the mouth racists, skinheads, republicans or the KKK. Nope. All of this shit comes from our own people – Brown folks do this to other Brown folks as some kind of weirdo activism where the only ones benefiting from it are the white supremacists who enjoy watching us fight each other. The irony of that is lost on those doing it, of course. They are, in their own words, too woke to notice and far too smug to care.
Years ago, I used to get trolled by white supremacists. As any Chicano writer will tell you, it goes with the territory. I used to have a drawer full of hate mail from bigots and weirdos who would send death threats and insults, simply because I had a byline or dared to print my opinion while being Brown. That was a long time ago and I haven’t received hate mail from white supremacists in many moons. But I’ll tell you who I frequently do receive hate mail from…the LatinX crabs.
Who are the LatinX crabs you may ask? Well, how much time do you have? They’re a small-knit, fringe group of people online who insist on inserting the letter X into words as activism. They do this in the interest of gender inclusion. For instance, Chicanx. Latinx. Or for the hardcore, Xxxxxxx. They’re typically young and always super pissed off, especially if you dare to disagree with them on any number of issues, but they really fly off the handle if you question the X.
And listen, folks, it’s your own prerogative to use whatever words you want. I’m all about personal freedom, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let someone else dictate what I can and cannot say. You dig the X? Cool. Rock on, but don’t try and force that shit on me.
These folks revel in dragging people through the mud online and I’ve had numerous run ins with them on these Twitter streets over the years. It’s how they get their kicks and this is their rebellion against the old folks. This is, in case the metaphor is not painfully obvious, the same old crabs in bucket syndrome, which is all too familiar to Chicano culture, but this time it has a niche with the X crab crowd who insist they are fighting the good fight with their ridiculous crusades to force people to use words you can’t pronounce and which have no meaning outside of certain social media circles, or the rest of the world for that matter.
And understand, that not all in the LatinX/Xicanx crowd are guilty of social media lynch mob justice, but there are small pockets of them who live to attack anyone they disagree with and Arellano fell victim to them the other day. Why? He dares to have an opinion that differs from theirs. GASP!
These past few years I and others have been attacked by the LatinX crabs online. Why? We had opinions also. Pretty scary shit, eh? And these groups splinter into sub-groups, and sub-sub-groups as well, it’s all super niche and super complicated and super stupid.
So, it strikes me as friggin’ hilarious that, here in 2018, Chicano writers do not have to worry so much about Johnny Reb or a dude in a white sheet writing a hate mail letter, making a bomb, or threatening a boycott if the “beaner isn’t fired.” No, it’s our own people who lead these moral crusades for online justice…whatever the fuck that means. We are no longer called beaner or wetback either. We’re called racist, anti-black, homophobe and transphobic.
These people, who are almost always unhinged, remind me Helen Lovejoy from The Simpsons when she exclaims: WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?! The rub is that most of them are in fact, children.
I ask you, dear reader, and the few trolls who will read this far: what good does it do to tear ourselves down..? How does that help, well…anything?
And listen, I fully admit, I have certainly not agreed with everything Arellano has done or written over the years. He can be kind of an asshole about certain things (as can I) but that’s part of his charm and the dude is sharp and has written killer shit over the years, much of it activism which actually accomplished things in the real world. Like him or hate him, he is a known and respected Chicano writer…unlike his hysterical detractors, and I think that’s at the core of why they hate him.
I believe he, like anyone else, is entitled to an opinion! And woe be unto you should your opinion differ! And this is where I get into trouble with the LatinX crabs and others, because as I have stated many, many times, I believe in free speech absolutely. And I strongly believe in supporting the free speech of Chicanos, especially these days when we are constantly told we are trash, we are dinosaurs, we are racist, homophobic, transphobic and every over -ic and -ist there is.
In fact, my support of free speech got me labeled as a “Nazi” by these little darlings, which boggles the mind but this is not an era of logic or reason. No, this is an era of hyperbole and hysteria.
If you dare to disagree in this era, you are labeled a hater, an enemy, a Nazi and the most vile piece of shit this side of Mars, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get your very own hashtag.
We have entered this weird point in time where instead of supporting one another, like we used to, we take every single opportunity there is to tear each other down until all that’s left is hashtag dust and the smug but temporary satisfaction that comes from mob justice. We no longer need the bigots to hold us back, we’re doing just fine on our own.
What’s funny to me is that absolutely NO ONE is forcing anyone to read or to watch or listen to anything! Everything we consume is a choice. It’s fascinating how high up on a horse people can get when they are tripping balls on the fumes of their own moral superiority. The LatinX crabs are no different than the bigots they chastise online, but don’t tell them that, they’ll call you a bigot and try to get you fired.
I have a choice NOT to read something I dislike. I have a choice not to patronize a film I believe to be dishonest and so on, but I also have a choice to not try and ruin someone’s career over something no one is forcing me to consume. Why the fuck does anyone care if someone else reads something? Why do these people seem stuck in Helen Lovejoy mode? They get this bizarre notion of moral superiority and go on these crusades because they feel compelled to do what they believe is “right.” It’s ridiculous and they have everything in common with the bible beaters of yesteryear.
What a mess.
And yes, before you point it out, the LatinX crabs have every right to express their displeasure in the hiring of someone they dislike, free speech, yeah? You bet. Boycotts are free speech. They are well within their right to do all of that…My point is this: what friggin’ good does that really do, especially when it’s our own people? At the end of the day, who really benefits from keeping each other down?
To quote the Tia from Blood In And Blood Out: Who are you fighting? You’re just fighting yourselves!
Rather than be constructive and countering ideas they dislike with ideas of your own, or shit, even just ignoring something, or agreeing to disagree, they choose to attack, to silence, to censor, to shame and to destroy. And they’re not happy until everyone only has one eye. That’s no way to treat each other.
In closing I’ll leave you with this thought; even though I no longer receive hate mail from white supremacists in great frequency, they revel in this kind of shit. They love to see us tear each other apart. Maybe think about that the next time you’re dragging someone through the proverbial shit to achieve some kind of personal satisfaction online…but what the fuck do I know? I’m a dinosaur.