Five Reasons Why Orange County Should Thank Mexico Today

Today, as Orange County Register readers know too well, is the official marking of Mexico's bicentennial. SanTana will become one massive fiesta this weekend, although the elites marked their own celebration last evening at the Bowers Museum. With all the arribas in the air, what better time to delineate why all of you non-Mexican, proud OCers need to thank Mexicans today–see, without us, Orange County would be Bakersfield.

In no particular order:

*Without our cheap labor, where would our economy be?
The great example, of course, is our much-mythologized citrus industry, from which so many made fortunes and which kept the county relatively extant for the post-World War II housing boom. If it wasn't for the lords' reliance on Mexican labor in the industry for the first half of the 20th century, they would've never had the profit margins that set OC on its comfortable ways. And, today, of course: janitors, day laborers, construction workers, and all the other invisible Mexis that keep this county together.

*It was discrimination against Mexicans that provided Orange County with its one saving grace in civil rights: Orange County, rightfully, is known as the place where all the good Republicans go to die, only to see their skinhead kiddies wreck havoc–been that way since the days of Henry W. Head. But from that discrimination against Mexicans emerged two of the country's most influential, least-recognized civil rights cases, cases that went on to influence Supreme Court decisions: Doss v. Bernal, which struck a blow against housing covenants, and Mendez, et al v. Westminster, which desegregated schools. It's those brave Mexican families that fought discrimination that save us from being the gross caricature the nation makes us out to be.

*The first Orange County soldier to give his life in the Iraq War was an illegal immigrant Mexican: Next time Know Nothings rail against Dream Act students, remind them that one of them would've been Jose Angel Garibay, who came into this country illegally as a child and gained his citizenship only upon giving his life to this country. Hey, Know Nothings: care to spill your blood for this country like illegals do?

*The food: Taco Bell, Del Taco, and El Torito aren't originally from Orange County, but they might've well have been: mitigated Mexican for the suburban masses upon which many entrepreneurs became millionaires many times over. Wahoo's Fish Tacos is from OC, and if it wasn't for SanTana's pioneering loncheros, the hipsters wouldn't have their luxe-loncheras to obsess over.

*Santa Ana: Orange County's seat is the laughingstock of la naranja, even more so than Stanton, but that's changing: the city's long-germinating plan to push out the Mexicans in its historic downtown is starting to get realized, and we'll finally get our own Long Beach! The Brave New Urbanists love to rave about the area's “character”–but why do you think those buildings were saved in the first place? Because gabachos abandoned the area during the 1970s and 1980s, and it was Mexican merchants who saved those buildings from the wrecking balls, only to have city officials spit in their face and slowly push them out.

So remember, Orange Countians: thank a Mexican today for our innate chingón-ness!

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