June 9, 2007

BECAUSE ALL COMEDIO SOY CONSERVITO (via Judson Heartsill):

Burning issues, picante answers (EYDER PERALTA, 6/04/07, Houston Chronicle)

Gustavo Arellano sat down for a pupusa at a Salvadoran joint on the southwest side. He wore a short-sleeved button-front shirt, horn-rimmed glasses and Chuck Taylor sneakers befitting his calm, academic demeanor.

The 28-year-old California journalist, whose biting ¬°Ask a Mexican! column attacks such hot-button issues as immigration, racism and sexism with humor and unrestrained ferocity, is hardly the imposing Chicano you might expect.

"I disappoint everyone," he explained while in town recently to promote his collection of columns and essays. "Even today, when I went to MEGA 101, I walk in, first thing (disc jockey Bo Corona) says is, 'You're not as tall as I thought you were gonna be.' "

Yet Arellano has become a flashpoint in the current immigration debate, not only for his columns but also for his multitude of TV appearances. Some say he's a liberal commie, while others cringe at his flip approach to touchy issues.

"I like to antagonize both sides," he said. "I don't want everyone to love me or hate me."

Take this column, for example:

Dear Mexican,

Why don't Mexicans have enough gratitude for America to learn to speak English? Are they too stupid? Too lazy? ...

TOOK FOUR YEARS OF SPANISH IN HIGH SCHOOL

Dear Gabacho,

The United States government shares your concerns, Took Four Years. Its Dillingham Commission released a 42-volume study on the waves of immigrants that concluded, "The new immigration as a class is far less intelligent than the old. ... Generally speaking they are actuated in coming by different ideals, for the old immigration came to be a part of the country, while the new, in a large measure, comes with the intention of profiting, in a pecuniary way, by the superior advantages of the new world and then returning to the old country." Sound familiar? That's because the Dillingham report appeared in 1911, and the inassimilable masses at the time were eastern and northern Europeans. The Dillingham Commission proves that the time-honored conservative anecdote that earlier generations of immigrants walked off the boats, chopped down their multisyllabic surnames and learned English immediately is (nonsense). American racism is a carousel and here we are again.


Rationalist ideologies are almost too easy as targets.


Posted by Orrin Judd at June 9, 2007 8:24 AM
Comments

In a just world this guy would have the show on CNN, and Dobbs would be bussing tables.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 9, 2007 1:53 PM

Both my two grandmothers and two grandfathers jumped off a boat at Ellis Island without knowing a word of English. They got jobs at whatever they could so they could pay for English classes. Once they learned they got better jobs. They then built companies and gave jobs to other immigrants. They became pillars of their neighborhoods, and as soon as they could, became US citizens. They sent all their kids to school and college, and made sure they became honest, contributing members of the US. That was in the early 1900's. It was commonplace.

Posted by: Germanic at July 30, 2007 2:01 PM
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