ED. DURAN AYRES
There are a number of factors contributing to the great proportion of crime by a certain element of the Mexican population. Among the contributing factors are those of economics, lack of employment, and small wages that cause certain ones to commit theft and robbery for the purpose of obtaining the means to own and drive automobiles and to have money to spend on their girl friends, liquor, clothes, etc., also to obtain the wherewithall to live.
Mexicans as a whole in this country are restricted in the main to only certain kinds of labor and that being the lowest paid. It must be admitted that they are discriminated against and have been heretofore practically barred from learning trades, etc. This has been very much in evidence in our defense plants in spite of President Roosevelt's instructions to the contrary, and in the great majority of the occupations and trades which are unionized, the Mexicans are automatically barred from, as they are not allowed to belong to the union, thus keeping them from remunerative employment.
Economic conditions in their home life is of course not conducive to a higher standard of living and consequently a lower perspective of responsibility and citizenship is the result. Lack of recreation centers is another factor.
Discrimination and segregation as evidenced by public signs and rules such as appear in certain restaurants, public swimming plunges, public parks, theatres and even in schools, causes resentment among the Mexican people. There are certain parks in this state in which a Mexican may not appear, or else only on a certain day of the week. There are certain plunges where they are not allowed to swim, or else on only one day of the week, and it is made evident by signs reading to that effect; for instance "Tuesdays reserved for Negroes and Mexicans."
Certain theatres in certain towns either do not allow the Mexicans to enter or else segregate them in a certain section. Some restaurants absolutely refuse to serve them a meal and so state by public signs. The Mexicans take the attitude that they pay taxes for the maintenance of the public institutions the same as anyone else. Certain court actions have been brought by them to force the admittance of their children into certain public schools. All this applies to both the foreign and American born Mexican. Broken homes, liquor, loose morals, are also contributing factors. All of these, and other factors, are the cause of the Mexican youth remaining within their own racial groups, resulting in what is now practically gang warfare—not only among themselves but also between them and the Anglo-Saxons.
But to get a true perspective of this condition we must look for a basic cause that is even more fundamental than the factors already mentioned, no matter how basically they may appear. Let us view it from the biological basis—in fact, as the main basis to work from. Although a wild cat and a domestic cat are of the same family they have certain biological characteristics so different that while one may be domesticated the other would have to be caged to be kept in captivity; and there is practically as much difference between the races of man as so aptly recognized by Rudyard Kipling when he said when writing of the Oriental, "East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet," which gives us an insight into the present problem because the Indian, from Alaska to Patagonia, is evidently Oriental in background—at least he shows many of the Oriental characteristics, especially so in his utter disregard for the value of life.
When the Spaniards conquered Mexico they found an organized society composed of many tribes of Indians ruled by the Aztecs who were given over to human sacrifice. Historians record that as many as 30,000 Indians were sacrificed on their heathen alters in one day, their bodies being opened by stone knives and their hearts tom out while still beating. This total disregard for human life has always been universal throughout the Americas among the Indian population, which of course is well known to everyone.
Now to have a true perspective of the problem we must realize that it would be a mistake to classify the Mexican nation in this category, as being Indian, any more than it would be right for us to classify the United States as being Indian, because as we well know, all Indians in our country are Americans, but all Americans are not Indians. In Mexico all Indians are Mexicans, but all Mexicans are not Indians. The percentage of course, is greater in that country. Mexico has a population of approximately 20,000,000 people, of which less than 20% are pure Caucasions or White. The remaining population are Indian and Mextizos, or a mixture of the Caucasion and Indian.
For 400 years the Mexican people, including their forefathers from Spain, have been confronted with the same problem that we are confronted with today, and they have given just as much study and thought to the problem as we have. In fact, the revolution that started in Mexico under Madera in 1910 had as its objective the freeing and betterment of the Indian, and also much of the Mextizo element, from peonage. Many social experiments were tried out, some of them running to the extreme in their good intentions, but all ending in apparent failure. Mexican authorities state that in spite of every well meant social reform and leniency shown to a certain element under the program of rehabilitation the said element has not responded to their hopes, and that even from the economic standpoint, when higher wages are given and an opportunity for a higher standard of life is opened to them, instead of availing themselves of that opportunity they prefer to work half a week instead of a whole week, and we find that same condition here in a great many instances among this same element.
Beginning in 1910 there has been a great influx of Mexican labor into our country that had as its inception the demand for it by agricultural, mining railway and other interests. However, the Mexicans did not remain in their fields of activity but in ever increasing numbers they settled in the cities and towns where they are now living in colonies, many of them much as they did in Mexico, speaking their own language, clinging to their own customs, etc. In Mexico the authorities have always adopted a firm hand in dealing with criminals, or those given over to forms of violence. They have stated that which we are now learning the hard way, the Mexican Indian is mostly Indian—and that is the element which migrated to the United States in such large numbers, and looks upon leniency by authorities as an evidence of weakness or fear, or else he considers that he was able to outsmart the authorities. Whenever this element is shown leniency in our courts, by our probation officers and other authorities, and is released from custody without serving a sentence, being put on probation, etc., he becomes a hero among his own gang members and boasts that the law was afraid to do anything to him or else that the authorities were dumb and that he put it over on them. However, whenever this Mexican element receives swift and sure punishment such as proper incarceration he then, and then only, respects authority. It is just as essential to incarcerate every member of a particular gang, whether there be 10 or 50, as it is to incarcerate one or two of the ring leaders. In other words—take them out of circulation until they realize that the authorities will not tolerate gangsterism.
They adopt far more severe measures in Mexico in dealing with them. All those 18 years of age and over should be found a place in the armed forces of our country at this time. All those under 18 who will not attend school should work, and even if they do work, if they resort to such crimincal acts as evidenced lately by these gangs, then they should be incarcerated where they must work under supervision and discipline. Many of these young gangsters have comparatively good jobs, so economics is not a determining factor in their case. In fact, as mentioned above, economics as well as some of the other features are contributing factors, but basically it is biological—one cannot change the spots of a leopard.
The Caucasion, especially the Anglo-Saxon, when engaged in fighting, particularly among youths, resort to fistcuff and may at times kick each other, which is considered unsportive, but this Mexican element considers all that to be a sign of weakness, and all he knows and feels is a desire to use a knife or some lethal weapon. In other words, his desire is to kill, or at least let blood. That is why it is difficult for the Anglo-Saxon to understand the psychology of the Indian or the Latin to understand the psychology of the Anglo-Saxon or those from Northern Europe. When there is added to this inborn characteristic that has come down through the ages—the use of liquor, then we certainly have crimes of violence. Offtimes the element of jealousy enters into it.
There is a feeling among the Mexican population that they have not even the control over their children that they would have in Mexico, because if they try to restrain their children and punish them for going out nights, a complaint is made against them and they are hailed into court for punishing their children. Therefore, the youth is allowed to run wild—both boys and girls. There is also a notable lack of cooperation on the part of the parents with the authorities. Certainly the curfew laws should be strictly enforced, and if they are not broad enough, then other laws should be passed in order that the youth might be kept off the streets at night, unless properly chaperoned and supervised.
Certainly the legality of fingerprinting everyone taken into custody whether for prosecution or merely for investigation should be clarified, and if it is not legal to do so then it should be made legal to do so, as it has been found a splendid deterrent to crime. We all have to sign our signatures whenever occasion demands it, such as in banks, registrations, and many other ways. In fact, we cannot vote without signing our signature, and one's fingerprints is nature's best and most natural signature.
A law enforcement officer can only work with the tools he is furnished with—he does not make the laws. If drastic measures are not taken to put an end to gangsterism it will increase, with resultant murders, and that which none of us want to see—race riots—especially at a time like this when we need the friendship and cooperation of Latin-America. You can quite understand the seriousness of such a condition and how it would be played up by the ever willing Fifth Columnists who are even now working so hard in Latin-American countries and making use of the discrimination, or apparent discrimination, by certain elements of our society who in no represent the sentiment and will of the American people.
Again, let us repeat,—the hoodlum element as a whole must be indicted as a whole. The time to rehabilitate them is both before and after the crime has been committed, as well as during his incarceration, but it appears useless to turn him loose without having served a sentence. As stated above, he considers it an act of fear or weakness on the part of the authorities, and due to his exaggerated ego he believes that he has outsmarted everyone. We also recognize the fact that the great majority of the Mexican people here are law abiding, and are just as anxious as we are to prevent crime among this element, as they rightly consider that it is a reflection on the Mexican population as a whole. They state they are most anxious to cooperate with the authorities to end this intolerable condition. They state it is a shame and a crime that a certain small percentage of the entire Mexican population should jeopardize the friendly relations and good will that so long have prevailed. They consider, and rightly so, that they are an integral part of American society.
Representatives of the Mexican colony may claim that the contributing factors mentioned, and others, are the sole cause of this crime wave by this particular Mexican element, and they will loathe to admit that it is in any way biological—for reasons one can quite understand, pride of race, nationality, etc., but the fact remains that the same factors, discrimination, lack of recreation facilities, economics, etc., have also always applied to the Chinese and Japanese in California, yet they have always been law abiding and have never given our authorities trouble except in that of opium among the Chinese, and that of gambling among both the Chinese and Japanese, but such acts of violence as now are in evidence among the young Mexicans has been entirely unknown among these two Oriental peoples. On the other hand, among the Filipinos crime of violence in proportion to their population is quite prevalent, and practically all of it over women. This is due to the fact that there are so few Filipino women here, and also the biological aspect enters into it, as the Filipino is a Malay, and ethnoligists trace the Malayan people to the American Indian, ranging from the southwestern part of the United States down through Mexico, Central America and into South America. The Malay is even more vicious than the Mongolian—to which race the Japanese and Chinese, of course belong. In fact, the Malay seems to have all the bad qualities of the Mongolian and none of the good qualities. As the Negro, we also have a biological aspect, to which the contributing factors are the same as in respect to the Mexican—which only aggravates the condition, as to the two races.