FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pancho Bin Laden and Terrorists’ Tombs

American commentators frequently style the 9-11 events as the second assault by foreign agents on America soil, the first having been the British invasion of 1812. But when they do, they overlook Mexican revolutionary Francisco “Pancho” Villa, the Osama bin Laden of a calmer age.

The attack that Villa directed wasn’t as spectacular as those of 9-11, yet the parallels signal a warning today.

About daybreak on March 9, 1916 Villa and some 500 followers invaded the little border town of Columbus, N.M. They set fire to the town’s most prominent structure, the Commercial Hotel, killing nine guests, residents and employees who couldn’t flee. As the marauders made their getaway, pursued by the cavalry, they brought down ten American boys in uniform.

Terrorism, if in a more mundane and less televised guise, came at Columbus to the United States.

Within 24 hours, the Southwest went on red alert. Guards took up posts at ports of entry and bridges, and militias formed as far away as Dallas; soldiers in San Antonio, its newspapers said, foiled a plot by Villa sympathizers to blow up a borderland Southern Pacific depot. The concept of homeland security was born.

President Wilson immediately dispatched troops to capture Villa, though his declaration did not include the phrase, “Dead or Alive.” Led by general John J. Pershing, 4,800 cavalrymen invaded Mexico, even though they had no plan to topple its government and replace its chieftan with a friendly Karzai.

For the next 11 months, Pershing and his troops pursued the wily Villa, who was rumored to be-shades of the Afghan-Pakistani frontier!-holed up in the dusty hills of Chihuahua state, just south of the Rio Grande.

The locals weren’t of much help to the expeditionary force.

“Practically every Mexican so far encountered questioned our right to be in Mexico,” Col. Frank Thompkins, a veteran of the campaign, reported in a memoir.

Pershing and his officers said that the intelligence information they got from Mexicans was sometimes false: time and again, for example, they led their occupiers-or liberators?–to graveyards where, they swore, Villa was interred.

At least once, the Associated Press reported that American officers believed that Villa had been killed in action.

But he was … hiding in a cave!

Like his Saudi successor, Villa apparently thought that if he could provoke an American occupation, he could tilt public sentiment toward his cause, overthrowing the pro-gringo government of General Venustiano Carranza.

But like bin Laden, Villa had formerly been a favorite of the United States, his insurgency supplied with guns and gold to advance the perpetual struggle against foreign tyrannies.

As a warlord, Villa proved to be almost as brutal as the men of bin Laden´s jihad. In November 1916, he and his raiders briefly took Chihuahua City, and before leaving, executed some 100 Chinese-Mexicans because their ethnic kin were suspected of selling supplies to the occupation troops.

In those days, the Soviet Evil Empire, against which bin Laden fought, had yet to be born. But in an era when saloon-wreckers-guerrilla fighters against Demon Rum– were American heroes, Villa, like bin Laden-eschewed alcohol.

Woodrow Wilson used the Mexican incursion to establish his credentials as a wartime president, to show that despite having never tasted combat, he, too, could be a man on a horse; George Bush copied the trick. But after he was re-elected in 1916, Wilson ordered Pershing´s expedition home. The president had other fish to fry, a War to Make the World Safe for Democracy.

Historians have thus far been kinder to the Virginia Democrat than to the Texan Republican, who for several reasons probably knows the rest of the story of the get-Villa affair.

In 1923, Villa was assassinated in Mexico by enemies of the cooling revolution he had helped to enflame. We should not be surprised if someday bin Laden meets a similar fate-but we cannot hope for all of it.

About a year after his burial, persons to history unknown opened Villa´s grave, in a cemetery near his ranch in the Mexican town of Parral, and made off with his skull. Nobody has been able to determine where it came to rest, and Mexican scholars have never cast aside the suspicion that it can today be found in the darkened lairs of a yanqui secret society, Yale´s Skull and Bones club, of which Bush is an alumnus.

To prevent a new outrage in the world of radical Islam, one that, like Mexico’s annoyance over Villa´s missing remains, could last for decades, if our president keeps his promise to bring bin Laden to justice, we must hope that trustworthy guards will eternally stand guard over the terrorist’s tomb.

DICK J. REAVIS is a Texas journalist who is an assistant professor of English at North Carolina State University. He can be reached at dickjreavis@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Dick J. Reavis is a Texas journalist and the author of The Ashes of Waco.

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail