ABC News’ Salinas Shamelessly Shills For Woke ‘Latinx Museum’

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To close out its special coverage of Hispanic Heritage Month, ABC News published a one-sided report intended to gin up support for the beleaguered National Museum of the American Latino. The result: race-essentialist propaganda passing itself off as news.

Watch as former Univision anchor, “Radio Soros” board member and ABC News Race and Culture contributor María Elena Salinas closes out her report with an emotional appeal to imagine the museum’s inauguration, complete with treacly inspirational music:

SALINAS: I think we’re all looking forward to that moment.

Salinas’ nakedly pro-museum report makes no mention of some of the early, outrageous exhibits at the museum, or of the activist muscle behind it. The museum, if allowed to remain, would make permanent the leftist idea of Hispanics as an alien “other” separate from the American mainstream, when in fact Hispanics have been on this continent since the 1500s, and a part of this country going back to the American Revolution. No one will be shocked to discover that these early exhibits make no mention of such heroes as George Farragut or Bernardo de Gálvez, for example. 

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Nationalism. Separate and apart from the American mainstream. And the Smithsonian’s Latinx Museum, Salinas, and the rest of the Professional Latino political class in Washington, D.C., continue to work together to ensure that it stays that way- to the detriment of the community they claim to champion. 

Click “Expand” to view the full transcript of  the aforementioned report as streamed on ABC News Live Prime on Friday, October 13th, 2023:

PHIL LIPOFF: Welcome back. It is the last Friday of Hispanic Heritage Month. And did you know that Latinos stream more than any other population in the U.S.? A driver behind that could be the median age which is just 30. So why isn’t there a place like a museum where we can learn about the imprint and the legacy of the nation’s largest ethnic group? Maria Elena Salinas went to D.C. to find out where the battle for a potential museum- the National Museum of the American Latino stands. 

JORGE ZAMANILLO: When I walk in, you know, it’s the color, the vibrancy, the sounds. It all takes me back because it’s what it means to be Latino. So that’s what stands out to me. It’s really about learning how far back our history goes in the United States. And I think most people would be shocked to see that we’ve been here for over 500 years. 

MARIA ELENA SALINAS: How do you tell that part of the story in a museum like this?

ZAMANILLO: It’s really about going back to the beginning- to the roots of Latinos in the United States. I think it’s important to establish those roots, how deep they are, how far reaching they are. And now we have over 63 million people in the United States identifying as Latino.

SALINAS: From Mexico to the Caribbean to Central and South America. It’s a representation of those who helped shape this country and those who were here almost a century before the pilgrims arrived to Plymouth. 

What about some of the immersive aspects of this these exhibits? You have several.

ZAMANILLO: Well, the one here, this covers the Pueblo nations in New Mexico, and we’re really proud of this. It’s- you know, you could feel the figurines, the bread here in el horno, the oven. But the great thing is that if you push this button here, you can smell the bread being baked. 

SALINAS: Mmmmmmmm. Oh, it’s so good. It’s amazing. 

The Molina gallery inside the Smithsonian Museum of American History features the first of its kind multisensory display that takes you back home. 

What do you think is the most foundational piece in this exhibit? 

ZAMANILLO: So this beautiful piece here made out of clay by Veronika Castillo is an example of that. It’s a Tree of Life. It’s creation piece, but it has the flora and fauna of all different countries we come from, right? And then all these little figurines, these clay figurines which are the stories- the people we’re talking about in the exhibition. 

SALINAS: It’s beautiful. 

Telling stories through generations. And the immigrant experience we all share, including this makeshift craft, handmade by two refugees who risked their lives to escape Cuba’s dictatorship and economic crisis. 

ZAMANILLO: It talks about the urgency, right? The- the need to leave, to flee. And you do whatever it takes to get here.

SALINAS: But also remembering to celebrate our successes and heritage in all aspects of life, like Somos (We Are)– a 15 minute video installation about Latino identity by Spanish-Venezuelan-American filmmaker Alberto Ferreras. 

ALBERTO FERRERAS: And it has 150 portraits that I took with my iPhone, because it was in the middle of a pandemic and I felt like that was way to capture the faces of the Hispanic community. When I was working on Somos, that was part of the goal. That it was- for some of us, it’s going to be like, “oh, of course I know this.” But for a lot of people it’s not. Because they just- they don’t live next to you. And I think that Somos captures some of that. I’m very proud. Latinos are a very diverse and a very complex group. Don’t underestimate them. Don’t pigeonhole us. I think it’s a mistake to think that the Molina gallery or the museum at large is just going to be for Latinos. It’s for everybody. 

ZAMANILLO: And you see a nod to our indigenous roots…

SALINAS: And everybody has a story, including the director of the Latino museum, Jorge Zamanillo. 

ZAMANILLO: I came here- I was about to turn 19, a year out of high school, and I had a scholarship to study music, trumpet. You know, when I first came into Smithsonian museums because I saw for the first time, I didn’t see Latino stories being told, immigrant stories. But I saw the possibilities and how you can use an object, an artifact, to tell a powerful story. And then was like, that kind of blew me away. So, you know, I got back to Miami and I switched my major from music to anthropology and archeology, after visiting one of the archeology exhibits here in the mall.

SALINAS: Is this a full circle moment for you? 

ZAMANILLO: It really is a full circle moment, but I always tell people it’s not only about me. It’s about finally trying to tell our story. 

SALINAS: But this is just the first step on the road to truly celebrating the Hispanic experience, with the long sought goal of established the National Museum of the American Latino on the National Mall just out of reach. 

ZAMANILLO: Well, right now, it’s crucial for us to get a site selected. We want to make sure that we have a presence here in the National Mall. 

SALINAS: And getting that site is an uphill political fight that’s been waged on Capitol Hill for years, spearheaded by some who don’t just want to showcase the hispanic American experience but are living it. 

U.S. REP. TONY CARDENAS (D-CA): When people say, “why do we need a Latino museum?” I tell them, “because story is not being told.” Latinos are invisible in the United States of America. 

SALINAS: The National museum of the American Latino Act, co-sponsored by representative Tony Cardenas along with others, was approved back in December 2020 to start the expansion. Now, the challenge is designating a location that requires a legislative approval to allow construction on two potential sites on the National Mall. And Representatives Cardenas and Barragan, both first generation Mexican-Americans, are leading that battle. 

CARDENAS: It had been introduced for about 18 years, so it did take some time. But what’s most important is we finally took the bull by the horns and we finally said, ya basta (that’s enough), it’s time. And we got it done. And it’s now become law. So that museum is going to get built. So it’s convenient for somebody who’s mentioned all the time to say, why do we need another museum? But it’s inappropriate for them to say on their argument that the museum doesn’t belong. 

U.S. REP. NANNETTE BARRAGAN (D-CA): This political climate is a challenge because some people have made immigration, the border the issue that they want to weaponize and use to stop any progress. Instead of saying, well, we support this, let’s do it, it’s the right thing to do, they’re putting conditions on it. And again, it’s why I’m going to continue to say we need more Latinas and Latinos at the table to get it across the finish line. 

SALINAS: Do you feel that the obstacles the Latino museum has faced are sort of like a symptom of bigger issues that have to do with legislation regarding Latinos? 

CARDENAS: I think that when talk about the immigrant dynamic right now in America, I think that too many of my colleagues have made it a Latino or anti-Latino issue. So when people think about a Latino museum, they think, well, why are you building a museum for immigrants? This museum is going to talk about the American Latino. And many of us American Latinos are sons and daughters of immigrants.

SALINAS: I’m the daughter of immigrants. 

CARDENAS: Exactly. So part of your story is their story as well. We have something in common. How many brothers and sisters? 

BARRAGAN: I’m the youngest of 11. 

CARDENAS: I’m the youngest of 11 as well. And so, you know, there’s a lot of beautiful stories that are common and stories that we’re going find out from other people that we probably even know that their story is very different than ours. But they’re all beautiful and they’re all amazing. 

SALINAS: You’re going to need more than a plus one. 

BARRAGAN: That’s right. 

SALINAS: And what the fight for finding a permanent home for the Latino museum continues, so does making sure that the Latino story is told in the fullest way possible. 

There’s so many different aspects to the Latino community- and what we bring to the table here in the United States and a lot of it has to do with culture, with arts, with music with food, with film. Will that be also an important component of the Latino museum? 

ZAMANILLO: They’re so crucial. That’s really when you start seeing the commonalities, right? And those things that really stand out, that bring us together because I could play right now a piece of Celia Cruz music to you and even though she’s a Cuban singer, it touches so many people, right? 

SALINAS: It’ll get me moving. 

ZAMANILLO: I’ll get you moving. You feel the beat immediately. You know, when you walk into a party, you know, walk in somewhere, you know you’re Latino. 

SALINAS: Let’s fast forward to the day when the museum is going to open. How do you envision what you’re going to feel when you walk into that museum on Inauguration Day? 

ZAMANILLO: When we open our doors- that ribbon cutting is going to be very emotional for many people. I know for me, it’s going to be a sense of accomplishment, feeling proud that we were able to do this. That we were able to persevere just like our people have for many years and get something done and create a legacy not only for for ourselves but for our children and our grandchildren for many to come. 

BARRAGAN: I envision mariachis somewhere along the line. 

CARDENAS: Absolutely. No question about it. 

BARRAGAN: And lot of amazing food. And just really- I think we’re going to see a turnout of, not just Latinos. I think you’re going to see the diversity of people across this country that are going to come out and support this effort. 

CARDENAS: When you get Cubans together and Dominicans together and Mexicans, and Guatemalans and suramericanos, etc., all of a sudden you’ve got a lot of talk and you’ve got a lot of people with a lot of different ways of looking at what the Latino experience is. And I can guarantee you this: there’s going to be a lot of laughter and there’s going to be a lot of joy but there’s going to be tears of- just knowing we finally have our museum. 

SALINAS: Teary eyed now. 


SALINAS: I think we’re all looking forward to that moment. 

BARRAGAN: It’s a labor of love.

LIPOFF: A labor of love, indeed, Maria Elena. Thank you for that.

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