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HASTA LA RECONQUISTA, BABY!

Byline: MARIEL GARZA

WELCOME to the revolution.

There's no point in hiding it any longer. The more observant members of society have already figured out that there's a secret Latino movement under way to evict every last Anglo-European American from the Southwest and reclaim the land that Mexico lost in the Mexican-American War of the mid-1880s. (Or sold, technically, since Mexico agreed to give up the land for $15 million in cash. Whatever.)

We might have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for the brave anti-immigration soldiers and commentators such as Michelle Malkin pointing out the brown peril. By we, I mean every single Mexican-American in the Southwest United States, even the half-breeds like me, regardless of how deep their family's American roots may go.

The plan is called La Reconquista, and what it means is that we are dead set on turning California and its neighboring states into Mexifornia. Or is it Aztlan? I can't remember; I'm going to have to consult the memo sent out by Mayor Reconquista, Antonio Vivalaraza.

I do remember, however, that the goal is to turn Wilshire Boulevard into Avenida Revolucion norte, right down to the sad painted donkeys and the drunken sailors. Football will be outlawed, and futbol will be installed in all the stadiums of this new Mexican state. Because we want this to be just like our beloved Mexico, the current political system of special-interest pandering will be replaced by one of complete corruption and institutionalized bribery. Plus, all the toilet seats in public restrooms will be removed -- but that's just for fun.

Why would we do this? That's a valid question, particularly for those of us who have never lived in Mexico -- or who have fled Mexico -- and like our stable economic system the way it is, thank you very much.

The answer, of course, is that we aren't.

It's the most ridiculous, specious and, frankly, dismaying aspect of the national immigration debate. There are many far more legitimate issues to genuinely worry about with millions of illegal immigrants living and working in the United States virtually unknown and without sharing the same societal responsibilities as legal citizens.

You think I like the fact that there are groups of immigrant men living in the bushes near my house? Heck no. But I don't imagine that they are some sort of advance army for a Mexican invasion, as some have suggested. That would make for a comic Farrelly brothers movie -- squadrons of crack judo experts disguised as tiny middle-age women and skinny boys armed with water bottles and backpacks of clothes, whose very bodies are the only weapons they need to take on the technologically advanced forces of the U.S. Funny maybe, but not all that realistic.

Still, the concept remains quite prevalent and is starting to hijack the larger discussion of immigration solutions and take it into the darker world of fringy anti-immigrant circles. Type ``Reconquista'' into Google and you get more than 3 million hits. It even has its own Wikipedia entry.

What's even more disturbing is the widespread use of war rhetoric by anti-immigration groups. To get a sense of the new and disturbing language in the immigration debate, check out the chat rooms of the California-based www.saveourstate.org to see the postings from people such as ``street fighting man'' and ``contraztlan warrior'' who share strategies, stories and bits of wisdom such as: ``Let us speek AMERICAN again.'' The site also offers evidence of the invasion, which are mainly pictures of billboards in Spanish and brown-skinned day laborers standing along the side of a street.

Or visit my favorite local anti-immigration blog, immigrationwatchdog.org, which refers to immigrants as ``invaders,'' or americanborderpatrol.com, motto: ``Bringing you to the front line.''

Anti-immigrants aren't the only ones employing the war talk. There's the crackpot who advocates the Mexican Movement online, which really is a re-reconquista plan, since it denounces all European occupiers in both Mexico and the U.S. This dude hardly represents the average Mexican immigrant, legal or not.

It's a brilliant strategy, though. If you dehumanize the people you don't like by calling them alien invaders rather than people, it's a lot easier to get rid of them.

This is how it starts, by sowing the seeds of ``otherness'' on both sides of the debate, by dividing ourselves up into ``us'' and ``them.'' I don't even know which one I would be.

There is no serious reconquista plan, but maybe there should be. It's time for rational Americans to reconquer the immigration debate before the soldier wannabes stirring up the brown peril pot start believing their own rhetoric.
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Title Annotation:Viewpoint
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 20, 2006
Words:774
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