Archive for March, 2013

Some of My Best Friends Are…

Every time I write about the GOP’s image problem with Latino voters, some conservative sends me an angry missive insisting that it’s all the liberal media spreading lies. I discover that not only does the Republican Party respect Hispanics, but it has their best interests at heart. The missive usually ends by telling me that Republicans are actually the most open-minded and tolerant of Americans.

And then approximately fourteen minutes later, a GOP leader will say something like this:

“My father had a ranch. We used to have fifty to sixty wetbacks to pick tomatoes.

That’s Alaska Representative Don Young, a Republican, who recently said this during a radio interview. Honestly, I don’t know what point he was trying to make, because I can’t get past the casual use of the term “wetback.”

Of course, Young’s fellow Republicans were quick to distance themselves from his offhanded bigotry, while stressing, “Hey, hey, we’re crazy about Latinos.” But this was not some risqué joke or harmless gaffe. This was an elected official resorting to slurs when referring to the fastest-growing ethnicity in America.

Now, I’m not saying that the Democratic Party is immune to racism, but honestly, when was the last time you heard of a Democrat saying something so prima facie bigoted? Yes, I know all about Biden’s “back in chains” comment — something that is not even in the same universe as far as offensive language.

So I have to wonder why wildly derogatory and/or lunatic statements seem to spring solely from the mouths of Republicans.

Sure, such comments are not as egregious as the GOP tendency — even eagerness — to excuse rape. As such, perhaps misogyny is still the Republicans’ number-one issue. But you would think a political movement that, by its own admission, has an image problem with ethnic minorities would take just the smallest care not to fling around racial epithets like its 1950.

So let’s go ahead and accept the congressman’s apology that “there was no malice in my heart or intent to offend,” while dismissing his slur as a simple “poor choice of words.”

But just this once, will you conservatives spare me the corrective email insisting that I have it all wrong? Can you just drop the denial about the white-hot strain of racism in your party that you have allowed to fester and grow? Instead, spend that energy by actually trying to drag your GOP brethren into the twenty-first century.

Or just keep doing what you’re doing. Then sit back and wait from that big group hug from Latinos, because deep down we know that you really, really love us.

 


Another Round

So there I was, blasting away at the bull’s-eye with a .22 rifle. When I was done, I handed the gun back to its owner and wondered if I should feel exhilarated or manly or something. But I just felt indifferent.

I was fourteen, and that’s the only time I’ve ever fired a gun. In the decades since, I’ve had no desire to repeat the experience.

I don’t own a gun, a fact that aligns with a larger statistic. We Latinos are the ethnic group least likely to own a firearm. Just 18 percent of us are packing heat. In contrast, more than one-third of white people (and a sky-high 61 percent of Southern white men) are armed.

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Rearview Mirror

It is an axiom that no culture can look upon its sins objectively without flinching. Actually, I just made that up, but it certainly sounds axiomatic to me.

For example, here in the United States, we went decades before admitting that putting Japanese Americans in camps during World War II was a bad idea. And that was positively light speed compared to how long it took us to apologize for slavery or to acknowledge that we weren’t exactly nice to the Native Americans.

Before we beat up too much on the USA, keep in mind that nations such as Germany, Turkey, and China all have trouble acknowledging that at some point in the past, they kind of, sort of, did some unpleasant things.

That’s why it’s fascinating that Guatemala is the first nation “in the Americas to prosecute a former head of state, in its own domestic courts, for the ultimate crime.”

The crime is genocide, and the defendant is former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, whose forces wiped out whole villages when he was in power during the 1980s.

The outcome of the trail, of course, is of great interest to Guatemalans in the United States, many of whom fled here during Efraín Ríos Montt’s reign of terror.

On a larger scale, however, the trail shows how it’s never too late for a nation to face its past, no matter how unpleasant the process.

 


Hit Delete

Every now and then, a scientific study comes out that reveals a disturbing fact, even though we cannot ascertain exactly what it means or why it’s true.

For example, a recent study shows that sexting is especially high among Latino and black teens.

So why are Hispanic and black kids indulging in this risky behavior? Don’t they know that “sexting can be associated with bullying” or extortion? And does this have anything to do with the higher rate of teen pregnancy among young Latinas (which mercifully is falling).

The researchers basically say, “Hell if we know.”

But clearly, taking pictures of your junk and sending it to strangers isn’t just for FBI agents anymore.

Somehow, that thought isn’t comforting.

 


Nanny State

If you’ve ever driven around my current hometown of Los Angeles, you know that Latinas pushing strollers of white, blue-eyed children is a common sight. These women are usually nannies, and they get paid to raise the kids of movie stars, TV executives, and Beverly Hills trust fund millionaires.

Well, ok, not everyone who hires a nanny is a pampered one-percenter. In fact, my wife and I, who are laughably far from being rich, are looking for part-time help with our infant son. So we’ve been interviewing potential caregivers.

By the way, if you would have told me a decade ago that I would be enthusiastic about baby spit-up and diaper changes, I would have gulped my beer, waved off the tattoo artist working on my shoulder, and told you to crank up the System of a Down and stop talking nonsense. But that was another life.

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