Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why Some Latinos are Angry about PBS´s The War

I was watching the PBS special "The War" this evening. My husband and I enjoy watching these types of programs. We are loyal Americans and appreciate the sacrifices our men in the military have made.

While I was watching this show, one of my frequent commenters asked me a question. "Why are Latinos protesting this program?" I visited a few websites and here is the explanation:

The Story Must Be Told and The History Preserved

A 15-hour "documentary" about Americans and World War II, to be broadcast by PBS in September 2007, initially excluded any mention of Latino heroes who fought to defend the United States from its enemies. After much public pressure, producer Ken Burns agreed to include interviews with Latinos and hired a Latino documentary producer. Subsequently, the new material added up to interviews with two Latino WWII Marines, and one Native American WWII veteran -- a total of 28 minutes.

But will it be meaningful? Defend the Honor is concerned that the new material was added simply to silence critics, and does not address the unique WWII Latino experience. For instance, in a major national meeting with the Television Critics Association on July 18, the critics were provided, in advance, boxed DVDs of the series -- minus the new material on Latinos and a Native American. Without access to the new material, television critics could not evaluate it and ask questions in open forum at their meeting with Ken Burns, associate producer Lynn Novick and PBS CEO and President Paula Kerger. Burns comments, as reported throughout the country, indicated he saw the issue of Latinos being omitted from the documentary as a "political" issue which he was able to "rise above."

About the Protests:
Four protests of the documentary are planned at local PBS stations Sunday in California; a Capitol rally is to be held in Austin, Texas; others will hold exhibits, commemoration days and panel discussions in their cities. Some events have already been held and others will continue through the month. Organizers said they want to inform people that Hispanics who fought discrimination and racism at home served valiantly in the war and on the homefront.

Eighty-seven year-old Carlos Alvarez remembers his first experience of war, when he dodged the bullets of Japanese gunners and airplanes in the Philippine jungles during World War II. Now, 60-plus years later, he's on the front lines of a media war pitting grassroots Latino groups against the multimillion-dollar guns of PBS, its corporate sponsors and legendary filmmaker, Ken Burns. Since learning that "The War" initially excluded him and the more than 500,000 other Latinos who fought, were injured or died in World War II, Alvarez says he was "upset but not surprised" by what he calls "Mr. Burns negligence for omitting the Hispanic WW II experience." Rather than fume about it, he and other friends in Brawley, CA collected money and took out a full page ad in their local newspaper. The former Private First Class, in the Army's 7Th Cavalry's Troop G, hopes that his campaign would "make people think and realize World War II was not fought and won solely by white males."

Though "The War" now includes 28 minutes of footage of two Latino veterans, most major leaders of Latino organizations, members of the Congressional Hispanic Congress and a constellation of grassroots groups across the country remain dissatisfied.

. WW2: Latino Soldiers in the Phillipines


Liquidmicro said...

I see a lot of immigrant groups that are not depicted in the series. Is this Shades of being Mexican again, manipulating race to improve their social status.? What makes Hispanics more special than any of the other groups? Is it because they are now the majority-minority and feel they should move up in class, social status? Do they feel that they are better than all the other minorities, and now should be of equal status with the majority in this country while the other minorities are left for themselves? Why can't Mr. Burns produce a movie the way he wants to? Why must Hispanic groups denigrate this mans choices in presenting his documentary? If Hispanics are so upset, why then is it that they don't produce their own documentary? I'm sure Hispanics could get Univision to produce it.

THE WAR -Search and Explore

Liquidmicro said...

Bill Lansford: Discrimination

Of Mexican descent, Bill Lansford noticed very little discrimination growing up.

Interview outtakes from THE WAR:

"Since I was living in a, principally in a Mexican or Latino ambiance, and we had, and the only Americ-, so-called 'Americans,' uh, uh, around me were not, you know, the usual run of Anglos. They were, uh, Americans, uh, of other extractions like Japanese, we had Japanese, we had, uh, Italians, we had Jewish g-, people. And they were basically pretty ethnic. So, to us, it was just, uh, America was a hodge-podge, pretty much as it must have been in New York at the turn of the 20th Century. We didn't have a sense of an American presence like, uh, standing there with a club in his hand or anything. There was no, no s-, sense of, uh, of, uh, discrimination or anything. We didn't know what discrimination was. That's not to say that other Latinos elsewhere might not have been aware of it. I was not."

Liquidmicro said...

Why isn't Geraldo Riveira standing up for Hispanics and their groups about this?

patriot said...

More whining and crying by Hispanics, IMO. Since the marches and all the attention that illegal immigration is getting, they are getting too big for their britches with their demands of this and that. They aren't demanding equality, they are demanding special priviledges. If they don't watch it they will earn the contempt of all non-Hispanic Americans.

Dee said...

From what I am reading, the issue is as follows:

The rate of Hispanics in America in the 1940s was 1.5%. It has been estimated that anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 Hispanics served in the armed forces during World War II. This represents a range of 2.5 to 5% of all persons who served during the war.

This is not even counting the Puerto Ricans which is estimated at another 53,000.

These are amazing numbers.

If you are familiar with San Antonio, you know it is a military town. Hispanics are highly represented in all fields of the military, especially in War.

Today, according to statistics, about 15% of the military is Hispanics. The ratio is much higher for those serving in conflict.

All they are looking for is an acknowledgement and representation.



Liquidmicro said...

But does every group have a right to "their due" in creative works? Should we go after Stephen Spielberg for not including diverse experiences in movies like "Schindler's List"?

"You can't satisfy everyone," said "The War" co-director Lynn Novick. "There is a group that is very actively against the film but I don't know that they really represent the mainstream .... people have their opinions -- but we don't want to be judged before people have had a chance to see the whole thing."

"You can boycott the film," said Burns, "but you'd be doing a disservice to the vets. After all, in the end we're all Americans and that's what this film celebrates."

Liquidmicro said...

Listen to the NPR interview linked below to hear Angelo Falcon express a political motive for his campaign against Burns’ artistic freedom. He asserts that hispanics need to be seen “in a positive light… at a time when latinos are being attacked because of this horrible immigration debate.” Honoring veterans is not his agenda.

Latino Group Holds Applause for 'The War'

Dee said...

Based on what I have read, it is both. As you know Hispanics and other minorities serve our country in the military and move a step closer to achieving the American Dream.

Personally, I respect the show´s honoring our military. They should be honored. I also think that had there been initial inclusion we wouldn´t be seeing these issues now.

Liquidmicro said...

With Angelo Falcons remarks, He asserts that hispanics need to be seen “in a positive light… at a time when latinos are being attacked because of this horrible immigration debate.

Makes more toward the argument that its a political agenda not an agenda about the lack of included Hispanics, like I said, what about all the other minorities that were glanced over that contributed to the cause? Where is there outrage.

This is nothing more than a political move by the Hispanic groups. Should the Anglos protest the upcoming documentary about Hispanics in Vietnam, produced by Laura Varela?

Liquidmicro said...

It's almost understandable that a vocal few would seek to curb an artist's right of freedom of expression by mounting a personal and political campaign against a World War II documentary which intentionally limited itself to only four of 16.1 million veterans' heart-wrenching war stories, but unintentionally stoked the ire of one of many minority groups who came together to help America through the dark years of the second world war.

Liquidmicro said...

Is Laura Varela going to include Anglos and other minority groups? Or do we call this racism on her behalf and force her to 'include' every ethnic group that fought in Vietnam?

Dee said...

Liquid, Quite a slippery slope you are going down my friend.

As I said Varela is making a point and it is accurate. The current immigration environment is causing SOME (antis)to view ALL Hispanics negatively. It is important for all of America to view the contributions American Hispanics have made to our country.

However, the primary argument was no representation in the documentary. My view is if he had the current 28 mins in to begin with, we would not see the issues we are seeing now.

Liquidmicro said...

My point is he can produce a movie the way he sees, artistic freedom, the Hispanic Population at the time was very low, and the 4 towns that he chose to have stories from, no Hispanics came forward from.

How am i on a slippery slope? I brought up Verela, should she have artistic freedom in her version , or should Anglos boycott and protest her film?

Falcon is the one making it as a political statement, therefor denigrating the memories of the Veterans.

Dee says: It is important for all of America to view the contributions American Hispanics have made to our country.

So you are willing to force a producer to make a film ONLY if it includes certain races/ethnicities? What about artistic freedom, according to your statement, only for some, not for others, sounds like La Raza's moto!!

Hispanics were only 1.4 - 1.8% of the total soldiers during WWII, is that enough of a contribution to demand that a producer loses his artistic freedoms? What about other minorities that were left out, why are they not DEMANDING they be included?

Dee said...

Liquid, I enjoyed the documentary. I did´t protest it. You asked a question about it on another blog and I thought I´d provide the explanation.

I feel very good this afternoon. I feel the brotherhood of mankind today. I know most people are kind hearted.

I am going to start a new blog re: why.

ultima said...

I wonder how long the series would have to be to give each nationality that participated in the war 28 minutes? And to say that all the others were just Northern European Americans is just a cop out. Everyone would have like to see their family or national origin represented. I didn't see any mention of Danes, yet two of my brothers and a sister were half Dane and served. There were 76 million people under arms in World War II, yet the Hispanics with their 500,000 want a special chunk of the glory -- if you can call it that. The Hispanics forget the concept of the film -- four towns and the families in them. I guess there should have been a fifth, Laredo or El Paso, Texas. That would have satisfied some but it would not have been fair to all of the other nationalities that were not mentioned or represented.

If Hispanics could for once think of themselves as Americans, they would see in the families that were represented that they could easily represent the Hispanics as well.

My main objection to the film was the use of the term "concentration camps" for the internment and relocation camps to which Japanese, Italian, and Germans were consigned. Many may not realize that foreign nationals were required to be interned by federal law. Minor children accompanied their parents just as minor children of illegals today should accompany deported parents. Re-location camps were primarily for citizens of Japanese descent at the direction of that great liberal president FDR, in the national interest.

Dee said...

Ulty, I was almost in agreement with you until the last sentence. The detention centers are miserable, horrific places. Women and Children are raped and abused. Confinement is extremely restrictive. Tent prisons. Group confinement. No safety. No air conditioning in TX summers. Just horrible. Don´t act like its a country club. Conditions were just as horrific for the Japanese in the WW2 confinement camps. We keep repeating the bad history. It needs to stop.

patriot said...

What sort of confinement centers today don't have air conditioning and other inhumane conditions? What bad history are we repeating?
If you have some credible sources that prove that those things are occuring today in any significant way, please provide them.

Dee said...

Pat, You asked me to describe some of the deplorable conditions in the Detention centers. I´ve started a new Blog to discuss this important issue.

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