Disturbing news — Highly-organized national street gang a major presence on Buffalo’s West Side — has me thinking about my hometown and its unique place in the history of the transition from the American Republic to the un-American Empire. The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, it seems, has established itself in a neighborhood that used to be home to other Latins, the original ones that come from Italy. We learn these new Latin Kings “have their own prayers, religion, constitution and bylaws.” And this from its rule book indicates that the group is not all that different from the nation-states it emulates: “You are not to put God, religion, family or friends before the nation.” They even have their own progressive tax code: “The dues are $5 a week for members who don’t sell drugs and $10 to $20 for those who do.”
This article is not intended to be a VDARE.com-style anti-immigration piece, not that it even could be. Say what you will about the Hispanic community of Buffalo, you cannot accuse its members of being illegal immigrants, being that they come from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which is part and parcel of the un-American Empire this article has as its target. (One of my professors at Buffalo State College was a Puerto Rican independence activist who lamented the fact that his countrymen were by and large content to live under the Empire, and only saw as a matter of debate whether to push for statehood or keep the status quo; he called his homeland “the country that never was.”) Interestingly, both Buffalonians and Puerto Ricans at the turn of the 20th Century were at the center of the transition from Republic to Empire.
Buffalo’s giant (both literally and figuratively), Grover Cleveland, was the last president to oppose the Empire which ultimately brought the Latin Kings to the streets of City of Good Neighbors, where he had served as mayor. Thomas DiLorenzo hailed him as “The Great Libertarian from Buffalo” in The Last Good Democrat. I’d say he was the last good president. He was a Bourbon Democrat, who, among other things, “opposed imperialism and U.S. overseas expansion, fought for the gold standard, and opposed bimetallism.” Fat, and standing for freedom, he could not be elected today. He fought to keep the Kingdom of Hawai’i free, as the text of this 1893 address to Congress attests — Grover Cleveland Opposes the Annexation of Hawaii.
Hawai’i was annexed, during the administration of one of America’s worst presidents, by the man who replaced Cleveland after his two non-consecutive terms and ushered in the Empire, William McKinley. It was he who “annexed the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam, as well as Hawaii, and set up a protectorate over Cuba.” In 1903, he was assassinated by the anarchist Leon Frank Czolgosz at the globalist Pan-American Exposition, in Buffalo! (Might the Latin Kings be McKinley’s Revenge?) Of course, political violence is always to be condemned, and the best we can say about Mr. Czolgosz is that, being a European perhaps, his was not the non-violent “Star-Spangled Anarchism” written about in Daniel J. Flynn’s A Conservative History of the American Left.
Decades before Cleveland there was Millard Fillmore, who, in 1865, refused to publicly mourn after the assassination of the man who laid the foundations of the Empire, a man who L. Neil Smith called “The American Lenin.” Western New Yorker Bill Kauffman is fond of reminding us that Queen Victoria remarked that Fillmore was the handsomest man she had ever met. Mr. Kauffman also likes to note that this is not a condition rare to the male race of Western New York, as I’m sure you will agree by scrolling down and looking at the photo of the author of this piece.
But in post-Cleveland America, hard times have befallen Buffalo as imperial reign took root. One hundred years ago, I have been told, Buffalo was the richest city in the world. Today, it is the second poorest city in the country. One need not abandon Austrian Economics and embrace protectionism to understand that taxing middle Americans to fund IMF and World Bank industrial development projects in Third World countries is not a good idea for American workers. The “planners” Friedrich Hayek warned us about in The Road to Serfdom decided to “think globally and act locally” by building up industries globally while shutting them down locally, in places like Buffalo, all in the name of some abstract notion they called the service economy. And I wouldn’t suggest telling a Buffalo steelworker laid off in the ’70s that he lost his job because he was lazy or uncompetitive, at least not to his face unless you want to lose yours. Buffalo has lost more than half its population since the 1970s.
Yet the flame of liberty has not been extinguished, and the spirit of Grover Cleveland lives on. Ralph Raico, Michael S. Rozeff, and James Ostrowski are among the anti-imperialist Buffalonians who make LewRockwell.com what it is.
“The British Empire may annex what it likes, it will never annex England,” said the great Englishman G. K. Chesterton. “It has not even discovered the island, let alone conquered it.”
The American Empire will never annex Buffalo!
An American Catholic son-in-law of Korea, Joshua Snyder [send him mail] lives with his wife and two children in Pohang, where he serves as an assistant visiting professor of English at a science and technology university. He blogs at The Western Confucian.