Friday, May 21, 2010

Winning the Battle, Risking the War

There is an emerging narrative that as ear candy, Calderón's speech was perfectly fine, but as an effective advancer of Mexican interests, it was less so. Hence the cover of today's Milenio (the headline reads, Ovations, 27; Answers, 0):

Or the editorial from El Universal:
President Felipe Calderón yesterday gave a speech with a great deal of patriotic content. With a tongue that reminded one of Belisario Domínguez, firmly drilled the US for the mistakes that are committed daily on two issues: intolerance regarding Mexican migration and the traffic of arms to our country.

On 27 occasions he received applause from our neighboring legislators and some Mexican congressmen who, along with him, came on the official visit to Washington. The story goes that Beatriz Paredes, the PRI leader, and Carlos Navarrete, the PRD's Senate leader, showed signs of euphoric nationalism upon hearing the head of their state speak.

Nevertheless, the attitude of the representatives from the Republican party in the Capitol drew a contrast in this environment. While the Democrats stood and cheered, their conservative opponents showed signs of discomfort, first, then of open discourtesy.

The declarations of the Republican Senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch, disqualifying the voice of the Mexican president are proof of this. He accused him of having intervened, in a highly disrespectful manner, in the internal politics of his country. It's worth imagining what we Mexicans would have said if Barack Obama had taken the microphone in the highest tribunal of our nation to lecture us for our errors and mistakes.

Not only are Mexicans very nationalistic. Our neighbor can be even more so. And the history between the two nations offers abundant proof of what happens when the two identities crash into one another: Mexico and the United States end up becoming even more distant.

From that standpoint feeding the latent polarization between that country with respect to Mexican-American issues could be evaluated more as an error than a success. Our president decided to make a speech to convince the convinced and, at the same time, to abruptly disqualify those who aren't convinced on immigration reform or effectively regulating arms traffic.

With it he earned applause 27 times but he also lost, perhaps, the last opportunity during his term to move the terms of the discussion offering arguments that will make Mexico's detractors reconsider their positions.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice post about Calderon and his speech before Congress. That the Republicans showed disdain and discourtesy doesn't surprise me at all. Mexican bashing in all forms seems to be the "buoy" that the Republicans are hanging on to for dear life, appealing to ignorance and intolerance in order to maintain a political upper hand. Demagoguery in it's most effective and classic method of scapegoating the powerless, while at the same time convincing the predatory xenophobe's that they are the real victim's.
I'm afraid that with the record of the Bush/Cheney Republican era as one of total and complete failure (except for the robber barons and their lackeys getting over like fat rats), there is nowhere to turn for the Republicans except to lash out and wail crocodile tears over their fears and psychotic nightmares of a Mexican reconquista and subsequent loss of "Imperial white mans western culture". Or in more simple but unspoken terms, the Mexicanization of white America and the mongrelization of the so-called "holy English language".
The Republican Party, aka The USA White Man's Party, can be counted on to continue to use immigration and fear of growing Mexican American political power as a wedge issue to help circle the wagons against Indian attack and while at get themselves elected to public office.

PS Maybe it can't be translated to the English language properly but the term "euphoric nationalism" always leaves me with much consternation, euphoria should be reserved only when making love, or enjoying nature, music, and the good fortune of family and friends.

don quixote

pc said...

RE the Republicans now, yeah no disagreement here, I don't think historians are going to look at the Bush/Cheney years fondly.

I'm a little more optimistic about the long-term prospects of the Republican party as it relates to Mexico and Mexican-Americans for two reasons: one, most of the most rabid anti-immigration advocates are older, whereas younger people tend to be more open toward immigrants in general and Mexican immigration specifically; two, rising hispanic proportions of the electorate mean that laws like SB 1070 (as in California 15 years ago) will have a significant negative impact electorally. In other words, the tradeoff of offending latinos in exchange for the support of the older white set will increasingly be a bad deal for both parties, which is good news for everyone. However, that shift is going to take a long time, and in the meantime, a lot of damage could be done.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the Republican Party having a better future when younger Republicans take over the reigns. In my experience the young Republicans are even more rabid and facist oriented.
Of course they confuse the term fascist with "libertarian", which I guess seems more palatable to themselves. It isn't to me, a fascist it still a fascist and when one scratches the surface of these right wing nuts you'll almost always find racism,xenophobia, and intolerance.
Proof of this can be witnessed at the present while listening to the young (46 yrs), Kentucky Republican elect "Rand Paul" who is the heir to an old racist Republican "Jim Bunning".
Paul is IMHO an even bigger threat to civil liberty and immigrant reform. Bunning, who was an almost laughable racist clown, with a mouth that he couldn't control,was a joke, but Rand Paul, along with Palin, JD Hayworth, and the other younger Republican fascists clothe and disguise their ignorant anti democratic and anti immigrant message with a more sophistacated and articulate double speak that seems to appeal to the young fascist/libertarian true believers of the right.
But I hope your right and I'm wrong, only the shadow knows.

don quixote

pc said...

When I talk about the younger being more tolerant of immigration, I'm referring to articles like this one from the NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/us/18divide.html?scp=1&sq=generation%20gap%20immigration&st=cse

Of course that doesn't preclude young (compared to typical politicians) anti-immigration hysterics from arriving to high office, and the lapse for the younger set's tolerance of immigration to trickle down (or up) to the level of Republican policy platforms could be decades. But with Hispanics occupying a fifth of the electorate before too long, I just can't imagine the republicans will continue behaving like this indefinitely. Then again, they've managed to remain alive despite earning only 10 percent of the African American vote, so I shouldnt put it past them.