¡Ask A Mexican!
By Gustavo Arellano
Dear Gabacha: Wow, blaming Obama for Mexico’s woes? That’s a new one. But your argument that undocumented youth belong in the country of their birth so they can contribute to its well-being instead of los Estados Unidos is a Know Nothing trope as tired as a mariachi playing “Guantanamera.” Obama’s recent decision to exempt many undocumented youth from deportation is hardly perfect—it ain’t an amnesty, it only covers some DREAMers, it still doesn’t address what’s going to happen to the rest of the country’s illegal-immigrant population, and it’s really just a ploy to ensure Mexis don’t rise up against him and vote for Alfred E. Neuman in the fall presidential election—but at least Obama acknowledges that these kids are Americans and deserve to stay in the country they know as home. Besides, your logic is laughably off-base: ever think that those undocumented kids know what’s best for them? Has it dawned on you that they want to better their home country—the good ol‘ U.S. de A? Anyone who can’t see these simple facts is a pinche puto pendejo baboso and probably thinks Taco Bell is delicious.
Since the anniversary of his killing is coming up, how about a look-back piece on Ruben Salazar? I bet you a Canadian dollar a lot of the younger folks don’t know that part of their history, and I’d like to read your take on Ruben.
—Laid Off and Latino
Dear Wab: “The younger folks?” Try most folks who aren’t Latino reporters or Chicano Studies majors—and even they don’t get the essence and importance of the martyr. Salazar was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times who eventually made a name for himself as a columnist writing on the burgeoning Chicano movement and was killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy tear-gas canister on August 29, 1970 while Salazar covered a demonstration in East Los Angeles against the Vietnam War. Chicano activists usually place him on the same movimiento mantle as Zapata and Che Guevara, but Salazar wasn’t a Chicano radical by any means—he enjoyed fine dinners and bought a nice home in Orange County, which will probably come as a surprise to most, but not those who actually knew him. Most importantly, Salazar considered himself a reporter, period, not the mouthpiece for the Chicano movement. Check out Ruben Salazar, Border Correspondent: Selected Writings, 1955-1970, a great collection edited by Mario T. Garcia, and you’ll see he was hardly a fire-breather for La Causa and had his own skepticism about where Chicanos were going. That didn’t stop him from caring about the issue, though: Salazar was a muckraker who cared for justice for all, and it just so happened that Chicanos at the time were being screwed over royally. All reporters can learn from Salazar, but everyone, Latino and not, can as well by following the mantra he lived by: comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.