!Ask a Mexican!

Do Mexicans make better soldiers and Marines?

Dear Mexican,
When I was in the Marines, Mexicans comprised most of the non-
gabacho jarheads. I served with Gunny Ramírez, Sergeant Major Sánchez, Captain Guzmán and so forth. In the midst of anti-immigration sentiments, why does the Armed Forces run Spanish-language recruiting ads? Do Mexicans make better soldiers and Marines?
Ignorant Immigrant Marine

Dear Pocho,
Uncle Sam loves poor boys or girls, especially if they're immigrants—and no inglésis necessary! "Immigrant soldiers have always been an important sector of the U.S. military, going all the way back to the U.S.-Mexico War, when Irish immigrants made up a large part of the American army," says Jorge Mariscal. He's a Vietnam War vet, literature professor at the University of California San Diego, and editor of the 1999 collection Aztlan and Viet Nam: Chicano and Chicana Experiences of the War."Today is no different. Immigrants have limited economic and educational opportunities, and many have a desire to 'prove themselves' as patriotic citizens." Mariscal told the Mexican that the Department of Defense devotes about $27 million of its $180 million recruitment budget to Spanish-language ads and bilingual personnel; these ads use the double-edged sword of familia and machismo to convince Latino recruits that a life of death is for them. The strategy is working: according to a Feb. 9 New York Timesarticle, the number of Army Latino recruits rose 26 percent in the past four years, while the number of Latinos in all military branches rose 18 percent. And it doesn't matter whether the immigrants are legal—remember that Orange County's first Iraq War martyr was 21-year-old Costa Mesa resident José Angel Garibay, a former illegal immigrant who received American citizenship only after his April 2003 burial.

Read more Mariscal essays at jorgemariscal.blogspot.com.

Why don't Mexicans want to assimilate and accept our way of life? All I see them do is wave their flag and put stickers with the name of their home states on their cars.
Stuck in the Middle With Tú

Dear Hick,
Where have you lived your life? One of those Arizona Mormon towns where men have 30 wives and the kids are retarded 'cause cousins marry cousins? Ever been to a city? You know, one of those newfangled things with asphalt and street lights? You should visit. You'll find there are a lot of immigrants, and they all maintain ties to their mother country—because they're immigrants. But do you make the same anti-assimilation charge when gabacho households fly the Irish tricolor in the weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day? How about the European fraternal organizations that rent booths at the Orange International Street Fair? Have you ever questioned Fifth District Supervisor Chris Norby, a proud member of the Sons of Norway, on his loyalty to America? Your sentiment is just another manifestation of American exceptionalism, a syndrome Alexis de Tocqueville noted in his 1840 classic, Democracy in America,which argues this country is unique from every other nation and therefore can do whatever the fuck it wants—violate international treaties, invade sovereign countries, ignore the FIFA World Cup. In the case of reverence for one's roots, it boils down thusly: gabachos long removed from Ellis Island can love their ancestry without shame because they're the descendants of immigrants, and immigrants made this nation great; Mexicans can't because they are immigrants, and immigrants are turning America into the Third World.

Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at garellano@ocweekly.com. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym,por favor, or we'll make one up for you!

 
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