Belinda and I try never to miss the “Mind of Mencia” show on television. Carlos Mencia’s humor is exactly our own humor, iconoclastic and absolutely merciless.
He constantly refers to all Latinos as “Beaners”, a slang reference to Mexicans, used by ignorant people to include any Latino person, regardless of nationality. No matter from which central or South American country you may have come, here you are a Mexican to those who seem to need to account for everyone else’s genealogy.
As with anyone we really appreciate, we identify with Carlos Mencia’s humor and with his point of view about almost everything. Accordingly, we are starting to consider ourselves Honorary Beaners. It is most appropriate that we live here in South Texas, as our indigenous population is largely Latino, with large Asian communities interspersed amongst us. What a truly delightful and international environment. We can hear over twenty languages just by going to any grocery store, and we can enjoy the cultures and gastronomy of the most wonderful and exotic places on the planet, all within a ten minute drive from our front door.
When any other country goes to hell in a hand basket, we are rewarded with an influx of their highest achievers, the top of their economic, professional and entrepreneurial talent. Accordingly, the rather vast immigrant pool here is an incredible amalgam of overachieving people whose children are extremely well schooled and bright and motivated. Their traditions are to educate their children to their highest potential and to imbue them with positive values.
In addition, we have an influx of economic refugees, fleeing their home economies that are in complete disarray and incapable of providing incentives for them to remain at home. Just across the Rio Grande they see Texas, truly a land of milk and honey, and they long to come here and try to make lives for themselves and their families. Those that make it work very hard. One of the lead news stories today is that, while denizens of displaced New Orleanians lie around soaking up free room and board in government provided shelters and “temporary” quarters rather than show up for the nasty jobs of cleaning up the fetid mess left after hurricane Katrina, Latinos from out of town came to New Orleans to do that backbreaking and disgusting work. I can think of no more graphic an example of the intense positive quality of the Latino work ethic. Too long have we been exposed to the insultingly comic portrayal of Latinos as lazy people taking siestas. The truth of the matter is that they work harder than we are accustomed to work, and they will do anything it takes to support their families and make a good life for themselves. There is no higher quality immigrant that we could ever hope for.
Legally here or not, they make a most positive contribution to the lower end of our economy by providing hard working people. The more intelligent amongst us welcome them with open arms. Their children and their children’s children will improve themselves in each generation. The significance is that this is a golden gene pool from a rich culture. The less intelligent amongst us rant and rave about people who don’t speak English, as though that were some sort of stigma, which it really isn’t. In every wave of immigration the non-English speakers managed to find a way to function, and they learnt English in their own good time. Their children were multi-lingual, and they brought with them a burning desire to make a good life here in America.
They come at a time when we need them most, for our society is too complacent. We take everything for granted and are becoming a nation of obese whiners. We need the enrichment that this infusion of ambition and work ethic provides. Maybe what makes the anti-immigrant constituency so upset is the adverse comparison they see when they think of who they are and who these new people are. The anti-immigrant factions fear being eclipsed because they fear those who will work harder and are more productive.
It is axiomatic that whenever there is a society that has become obese and lazy, some lean and hungry people will see them as an easy target. Usually, the lean and hungry simply invade and take over. We are fortunate in that, instead of armed invasion, we have an invasion of people who want to build up, not tear down. But we have become fat and lazy, and we will just experience the destiny of every fat and lazy culture. In this instance, however, the fat and lazy are being eclipsed by lean and hungry productive people in a peaceful economic infiltration.
I know from my personal social exchanges with these immigrants that they are in so many ways extremely worthwhile people. They are simpatico. They are a delight. If you are the least bit receptive, they will engage you in very enjoyable social exchanges. And if you are trying to express yourself in their language, you are embraced and celebrated. They hunger for a warm welcome, and their response to it is overwhelmingly generous.
I am not blind to the fact that some of them are bad folks. Some of every group are bad folks. Their percentage of bad folks is very low. To me the really bad folks are those who take advantage of their lack of access to the essential facilities of our legal system, and use that disability to cheat them of their due. When you hire a poor person to work for you temporarily on some project and then refuse to pay because you know the worker has no lawful recourse, you are evil incarnate.
The arguments advanced by those who make a lot of noise in opposition to the presence of this wave of Latino immigration show little or no appreciation of their economic and cultural contributions to our society. Moreover, they are spuriously grounded in the ridiculous hypothesis that unbridled immigration by Latinos facilitates infiltration by terrorists. Unfortunately, even the most ignorant of people can get face time on the news. The main reason why the ignorant can get so much face time on the news is that we elected the sumbitches to some political office. Otherwise they are professional rabble rousers associated with some extreme group with extreme views about whatever it is that their agenda seeks to promote.
One thing that is absolutely clear is that a terrorist can get into this country without any need for the cover of any wave of immigration. Face it – an open society is just that – OPEN. Nor would we have it any other way.
The other thing that is absolutely clear is that the wave of Latino immigration does not include any statistically identifiable segment of terrorists.
The arguments against immigration are spurious and put forth to promote some lunatic concept of what is happening and what its implications may be.
Xenophobic paranoia is not a rational ground for any public policy except in a culture of idiots or, as has happened in my lifetime, Nazis. It matters not one iota that immigration on the part of Latinos and persons from Asian cultures may change the “face” of America. We were established to be a polyglot society in the first place. Even in Texas, there are still towns where the principal languages spoken are Czech and German.
There are cultural grace notes to the symphony of internationalism that we enjoy because of Latino and Asian immigration.
The most obvious sensory contribution is their gastronomy. Their notions of how food should taste, smell and look have been overwhelmingly received and appreciated by all of us, not just here in Texas, but throughout America. Their culinary traditions are becoming almost cult like in the sense that there are tens of thousands of us who make it a point to study and to try to become competent in their methods, techniques, recipes and concepts of gastronomy. Their offerings stimulate us to throng to restaurants that feature Latino and Asian food. For this the proper reaction should be thankfulness, not enmity.
Any who has not yet treated themselves to the rich flavors, aromas and delightful robust head filling enjoyable flavors associated with the Spanish, Chilean, Brazilian viticulture experience has a world of smiles and grand evenings waiting for them. The wines that the Latino cultures are now providing for us are brilliant in their innocent richness. They are like beautiful young women offering themselves to our senses with promises so lustful in their delectation. Moreover, as they are just recently making their debut upon the world stage of oenological theatre, they are priced so incredibly considerate that we would do injustice to ourselves if we did not partake in copious delight. Once they are more widely known, they will not be as economical to appreciate. Their quality is now far beyond their price. As I write this I am enjoying an Emilio Moro 2000 Ribera del Duero that is out of this world and that will accompany my luncheon of Ropa Vieja and crusty bread and a salad dressed with Chilena dressing (the recipe for which can be found in the Chef Muldoon Cooking course page on www.SeamusMuldoon.com).
In art they excel and enrich our visual senses. The bold colors and human depictions common to Latino art, from Diego Rivera to the ceramicist on the street corner, take the artistic styles of Rouault and Lautrec as mere points of departure and move on from there to imbue art with their own soul. It is a long term value, not a fad. Here in the Southwest, our homes are chock-a-block with Latino art. Asian artists provide us with sensitivity in their art that is exquisite in its delicacy and its evocation of abstracted notions of sensitive beauty.
And who among us does not appreciate Latino music? It is at the very least the equivalent of anything that ever came from Europe and anything that has been the product of American compositional creativity.
All these accomplishments and contributions to our life are hallmarks of the most respectable of cultural qualities. It is impossible to appreciate art, music and gastronomy without being grateful to our new neighbors.
Maybe it is helpful to consider the profile of just who it is that is making the greatest amount of noise against Latino immigration. The people who make noise out of proportion to any personal risk, who have decided to adopt and to push some agenda, are often the worst amongst us. In my experience, a loudmouth is never a reliable agent of anything rational or positive. It is just noise for the sake of self promotion. Nowadays, they come from two easily identifiable groups. In the main, they are either loudmouth so called conservative Christians or pseudo patriots.
The loudmouth pseudo Christian never advances the goals of Christianity. Loudmouths are always extremists, and in this instance they are the SCF constituency (Sanctimonious Church Fuck), the people who insist upon only one extreme view of anything and who also insist that no other view is proper, acceptable or even worthy or entitled to expression. The folks who are always screaming about protecting America are usually people who, when their time came to step up to the plate and do something to protect America, found some way to avoid that responsibility. America is more than a flag or a song or an inflexible social or political doctrine. It is the open and gracious character of America that welcomes anyone who seeks to make a better life for themselves and who will make a contribution to the quality of our society that epitomizes America. It is a universally observable fact that the loudmouth constituency is an ignorant constituency and that those ignorant sumbitches are supported by opportunists who will pander to any agenda for a buck. It is true that we have a constitutional right to be an asshole if we choose, but it is also true that we are free to bypass and to try to ignore the asshole constituency.
It is also true that the arguments put forward by the American labor movement in opposition to free trade and to open immigration are not economically rational arguments. If our national economy does not engage in the competitive process of what is now and forever more a global economy, our economy will collapse of its own weight. Isolationism would bury us all. There is no reason for our partners on this planet to subsidize inefficiency by paying us more for lower quality goods, and you can be damn sure that they won’t. There will, to be sure, be a lot of adjustment pain, but over time, all markets are subject to equilibrating forces that efficiently allocate resources to the most efficient output. The adjustment discomfort cannot be repealed by legislation. Those who can be retrained need to be retrained. Those who follow them in the ensuing generations have no legacy rights in the status quo ante. They must be trained/educated to function effectively in the economy of the world as it is in reality. Lashing out in frustrated hostility is absolutely ineffective and brings catastrophic consequences. Just as the National Socialist (Nazi) party in Germany had no answers for the Germans in the great depression of the 1930s, misanthropic doctrines hold out no promise of improvement of anyone’s lot in America now.
For my money, I would be very happy to be identified with hard working people who want to come here so that they can reap the rewards of hard work. If there is an award or status of being an Honorary Beaner, a Frijolero Honorario, where do I go to get my certificate of membership, please?
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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