By Raoul Lowery Contreras

Who would have thought that an eleven-year-old boy’s singing the National Anthem at a basketball game (yes, a basketball game few people watched or cared about) would cause a firestorm of bigotry and racism unseen since Democrat Alabama Governor George Wallace barred the school house door by proclaiming “Segregation today! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!

Democrat President Kennedy and his bumbling brother Attorney General were afraid of antagonizing Southern White Democrats so they did little to confront them. Finally, when people died in a white U of Mississippi race riot, they swallowed their partisan politics and emulated Republican President Dwight Eisenhower’s courage in ordering federal troops into integrate schools by swatting mosquito Southern White governors aside so that America could become America.

Army paratroopers with fixed bayonets, a federalized National Guard and a resolute Republican President Eisenhower far outshined the Kennedys; his forceful history forced them to buck their Southern White allies to restore the Constitution and the Rule of Law to an outlaw south. Kennedy worshipping Historians can hardly countenance the idea that Republicans led the way to civil rights for millions of people but they did.

The symbols of 1960’s hate progressed from white-robed Ku Klux Klansmen, demur Southern white belles screaming “nigger” at 5-year-old children and fat sheriffs attacking black children with dogs and cattle prods, to camouflage-wearing, rifle-toting Minutemen murdering nine-year-old girls in Arizona, to “hashtag” Tweets.

A Tweet explosion occurred when San Antonio’s 11-year-old Sebastien de la Cruz was presented by the National Basketball Association (NBA) to the opening championship game national audience to sing the National Anthem.

He was dressed in traditional Mexican cowboy garb with silver studs that comes from the upper class Mexican hacienda tradition (Charros) that spawned the cowboy that American culture is based on. Yes, Mexicans invented the cowboy (vaquero) culture. I repeat, Mexicans, specifically mestizo Mexicans, invented the cowboy culture that pioneer Americans appropriated when they crossed the Mississippi River.

This little 11-year-old boy stirred up a hornet’s nest of ugly racism and bigotry when he sang the “Star Spangled Banner” to open the National Basketball Association Championship series in San Antonio. Did he sing it in Spanish? No. Did he sing it with 20 Mariachi musicians backing him up? No.

Did he sing it English? Yes. Did he do a good job? Yes, his rendition was excellent and superior to most sports events anthem presentations. Unlike Whitney Houston’s and Beyonce’s National Anthems, he was live not lip-synched.

So what was the problem?

He wore a Charro (Mexican cowboy) suit. Why not, he is known professionally as “El Charro de Oro” — the Golden Charro (cowboy). He usually sings in Spanish and usually has musicians backing him up. Last year he blew away a national television audience when he appeared in Spanish on “So You Think You Have Talent.”

The world of Twitter exploded with insults aimed at him and all Mexicans. Attacks from “wetback,” to refusal to assimilate, to defeat immigration reform, to “go back to Mexico” flooded the Twitter world.

Would any of this have happened if the country wasn’t in the middle of a debate on immigration reform where a tiny minority of hysterical fanatics are frothing at the mouth about any Immigration Reform?

Certainly if the new law called for every illegally present person here to be arrested and deported they would be ecstatic. Many of them would be happy if the new law would station soldiers on the border with orders to shoot and kill any Mexican trying to cross the border. They would want a new law to eviscerate the Constitution by eliminating the 14th Amendment’s irrefutable words that confer natural born citizenship on any one born in the United States or its territories.

Back to realpolitik, none of these provisions are in the proposed new immigration reform law, thankfully. The law is being worked through the Senate and another one will be considered in the House soon. Its sponsors are miles ahead of the critics. They know that immigrants have children that are bi-lingual and their children will be the traditional monolingual American despite grandparents still speaking their own lingo. They know this because we have over two centuries of experience and studies that prove it.

Sebastien de la Cruz is the poster boy for Hispanic assimilation. Like he said, after the bigoted tsunami on Twitter: “People assume I am nothing but a Mexican. I was not born in Mexico (or lived there); I am San Antonio (Texas) born and raised.”

I’ll lay ten to one that 95% of all 11-year-old Hispanic kids born in the USA speak English better than their grandparents and of those in the Twitter world whose heads exploded when they saw a little boy wearing a Mexican Charro outfit on American television. ###

Contreras’ books are available at amazon.com