In Proving Patriotismo, the authors examine Latino military recruitment and question whether military service is perceived and functions as a vehicle by which Latinos in the United States can be accepted as first-class citizens and improve their economic station? This work provides the first empirical analysis of the poverty draft by asking over 1,800 Latino high school students in South Texas about their experiences with military recruitment. The authors then employ additional original interview data with high school faculty and administration to assess how the military seeks to attract Latino students. Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces are also surveyed to understand their military experience and assess whether their service improved their acceptance as American and improved their post-service quality of life. The work concludes with an examination of national survey data where Latinos provide their views of the U.S. military and Latino military service. The result of this work is a complex picture where the intersection of poverty, ethnicity and patriotism demonstrates why the U.S. military targets a growing Latino population for recruitment and why Latinos in the United States seeking to improve their economic station and their acceptance as American are open to these overtures.
Adam McGlynn is professor of Political Science in the Department of Political Science and Economics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
Jessica Lavariega Monforti is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at California Lutheran University
List of Figures and Tables
Introduction: Learning from Our Students
Chapter 1: Institutional Behavior as Institutional Racism: The U.S. Military and its Relationship to Latino Belonging and Patriotism
Chapter 2: Growing a Latino Army? An Empirical Evaluation of the Existence of the Poverty Draft
Chapter 3: The Role of Military Recruiters & JROTC Programs in Latino-Majority High Schools
Chapter 4: Proving Patriotism: Latino Student and Veteran Views on Military Service
Chapter 5: Intersecting Identities: Latino Views on Military Recruitment and Service
Chapter 6: Achieving Ethical Recruitment of the Latinx Citizen-Soldier and the Political Agency of the Latino Veteran
Appendix A: High School Student Survey Questions
Appendix B: High School Faculty Staff Survey & Interview Questions
Appendix C: Veterans Interview Questions
Appendix D: CMPS Survey Questions
Latino military service is often framed as being based on patriotism and a desire for belonging, and as a means of pushing back against anti-Latino discrimination. Using interviews with teachers and administrators, original surveys of students and veterans, as well as national data, Lavariega Monforti and McGlynn examine the ways in which Latino students in the Rio Grande Valley are victimized by the poverty draft and dishonest recruiters and encouraged to enlist in the U.S. armed forces. Influenced by underlying incentives to perform patriotism, students are told that military service is their best route to achieving their dreams but little about the dangers of service or the military's history of institutional racism. This is a gripping book about the ways in which high-achieving, economically-challenged young Latinos are socialized to enlist -- a narrative that the authors call out for being ethically questionable even as military service does clearly provide some benefits to Latinos who choose to serve.
Using multiple methods of research and analysis, this book demonstrates with nuanced historical contextualization, analytical clarity, solid evidence, and deep political insight the degree to which Latinx youth in the Rio Grande Valley are subjected to a racialized “poverty draft” that plays upon their feelings of patriotism and their desires for egalitarian recognition, personal honor, and social mobility to enlist them in military service despite little material or symbolic reward from their country.
The military is an institution that shapes the lives of millions of Americans. How experiences with the military affect the broader relationship between Latinos and the government has been an understudied topic until now. By collecting and analyzing original data, the authors are able to inform us about this topic. Their focus on the Rio Grande Valley, an important but often ignored hub of Latino life in the United States, also deserves praise.
In Proving Patriotismo, McGlynn and Lavariega-Monforti address a paradox: In the face of continued anti-Latino, especially anti-Mexican, prejudice and marginalization in U.S. society, why do so many Latinx youth, both men and women, enlist in the U.S. military? Using historical, interview, and survey evidence, the authors explore the roots of Latino patriotismo and analyze the poverty draft, describing how Latinx individuals perceive the educational and economic benefits of military service. This unique book raises important new questions about the role of military service in the Latino community's elusive quest for full acceptance in U.S. society.