Maggie Van Ostrand
easy to tell an election is coming in the U.S., because here we go
again with the border situation, better known as the "Let's build
a fence to keep them out" game. If U.S. politicians were really worried
about illegals crossing over, they'd talk about it all the time, instead
of just in election years. Besides, if the politicians really wanted
to keep illegals out of the country, who would pick their lettuce,
clean their houses, and mind their kids?
What are North Americans afraid of? Are we afraid someone will come
along and take our country from us the way we took it from the Indians
and the Mexicans? Are we judging everyone else by our own past deeds?
If that is the case, we had better change our thinking. So many countries
are angry with us at this time, we could really use a friend.
Politicians are using the media to breed hatred and fear in U.S. citizens
against a gentle and kindly people they refer to as "aliens" and "illegals."
They would not do so if those same people could vote for them. Goodbye
ethics, so long honor.
Mexicans are not the drug-pushing, bribe-taking, knife-wielding banditos
the U.S. media writes about. It would be nice if U.S. citizens would
spend the same amount of time studying about Mexico and her people
as we do trying to understand middle eastern culture. The joke is
on us if oil is really what the war on Iraq is all about. What do
we think Mexicans put in their gas tanks, tacos? We don't see Mexico
groveling at the feet of the Arab nations; Mexico has its own oil.
At this writing, six of the top ten books on the New York Times Best
Seller non-fiction list are about Iraq and/or terrorist nations. One
is about "unchecked immigration." None is about what the Mexican people
are really like. Most U.S. citizens do not even know that Mexico declared
war on the evil Axis in World War II as a show of support toward its
northern neighbor. For this act of overwhelming friendship, what do
we do? We build a fence.
If North Americans would take the time to research their friendly
neighbors to the south, we might learn something useful. What are
Mexicans really like?
Mexicans are like economically prudent Tomás, who oversaw the painting
of the village church in anticipation of a visit from the Bishop of
Guadalajara. The side and rear walls remained as before, faded and
peeling. Tomás shrugged. "Why waste pesos on paint for four walls,
Señora, when the Bishop will see only the one in front?"
Mexicans are like Josefina, a housekeeper, and her husband, Enriquez,
a gardener. Not since Lana Turner's fallen lipstick rolled across
the floor stopping at the feet of newly arrived drifter, John Garfield,
in "The Postman Always Rings Twice," has there been anything as romantic
as their 27th wedding anniversary. Three crisply-dressed mustachioed
men in sombreros entered their tiny yard, deftly plucking their guitar
strings. As they serenaded Josefina by lustily singing "Cielito Lindo"
and "Mi Secreto Amor," Enriquez, dressed in stiff black shirt and
trousers ironed to a shiny black, silver belt buckle glinting in the
moonlight, shyly crept out from behind them. In his hand he clutched
one magnificent red rose. He pushed it forward toward a blushing Josefina.
No naked film stars writhing about on a movie screen can equal that
scene for romance.
Mexicans are like Carlos Faustino, who fought beside American airmen
in the Pacific Theater and was a member of the elite "Esquadron Aereo
de Caza 201," also known as the Fighting 201st.
The 201st Fighter Squadron, a select group of 35 Mexican officers
and 300 enlisted men, were trained in Mexico, then given additional
flight training as P-47 fighter squadron at Pocatello Army Air Base
in Idaho. They were then attached to the 58th Fighter Group in the
Philippines where they began combat operations. They wiped out machine
gun nests, dropped 181 tons of bombs and fired 153,000 rounds of ammunition,
acquitting themselves well and bravely. Seven of their pilots were
killed in action.
Mexicans are like Lupita, who refused to go out with a boy newly returned
from visiting cousins in Los Angeles because he was sporting baggy
gang clothes. In order to win a date with Lupita, the boy had to burn
those clothes and dress properly in dark trousers, a white shirt,
and a tie.
It is people like Tomas, Josefina, Enriquez, Carlos, and Lupita who
might cross the border looking for work. They do not live on welfare,
they are proud to work.
We should not build a fence to keep them out, we should build a bridge
to let them in.
America -- it just doesn't get it. It's up to us to give it to them.
Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
7 , 2006 column