Jury Trial of a Sheepherder for Murder by Ernest Leonard Blumenschein
Being summoned to perform the ancient civic duty of serving on a jury reminded me of this painting housed not too far from here at the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, one of my favorite museums. The painting, by one of the founding members of the century-old Taos Society of Artists, depicts, as its title suggests, a jury trial of sheepherder for murder.
It appears that the accused is indeed being tried by a jury of his peers, as the twelve men are all Mexicans, or Mexican-Americans, or Chincanos, or whatever term these folks are supposed by described by these days. The only Anglo-Saxon portrayed, with the likely exception of the scribe, is the faceless portrait of the Father of Our Country, hanging on the adobe courthouse wall. Judging from their facial expressions, or lack thereof, these jurors appear far less engaged than those depicted in that wonderful painting The Jury by Norman Rockwell.
How could they be engaged in what to them was likely an entirely alien process? "Why are we even asked to make a decision that el patrón alone has the authority to make?" they could be thinking. Anglo-Saxons have been serving on juries for centuries. The jury system is an expression of our cultural and moral values as well as our worldview, which are very different from those of the Latin nations of Europe and even more different from the hybrid value-system and worldview that came into being in the Spanish colonies of the New World.
This painting speaks to the inherent problem of mass immigration. People will not adopt our values en masse. In electing a new people, our rulers are surrendering our societal values. Mexicans make Mexico Mexico. By replacing our population with Mexicans, our elites make America Mexico. Perhaps if this jury had consisted of one or two Mexicans and the remainder Anglos, the minority jurors may have said, "Well, I guess this is how the gringo system of justice works; let's imitate and learn from them." A sensible immigration policy might have secured such an outcome for our country. Too late for that.
This painting also speaks to the folly of that 1848 war and the greater folly of afterwards imposing our values on people of conquered territories, however underpopulated they were. As beautiful as much of so-called Aztlán is, perhaps these united States would have been better off without her.