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Published:January 1st, 2010 20:00 EST
America: Land of the free?

America: Land of the free?

By Richard Taylor

I always thought America was a great place. During World War II and after it, we opened our doors to refugees, and with a little help and work on their part, they had a new home. They were free to live as they liked as long as they had a job. America became the mixing pot of all sorts of different people. That`s what makes her so unique and great. The diversity has become one of her strengths.

But things have changed immensely. We now have what we call "the border war" with Mexico. They risk life and limb to come to America, for it is a much better place. And we track them down so we can send them back. All of the ones that make it are now the backbone of America. And Americans know they are here illegally and exploit them because they will work for less than an American will. And we make it really hard for them to become a citizen of America. And here is what really happened.

A scant 150 years ago, approximately 50% of what was then Mexico was appropriated by the US as spoils of war, and in a series of land "sales" that were coerced capitalizing on the US victory in that war and Mexico`s weak political and economic status. A sizable number of Mexican citizens became citizens of the United States from one day to the next as a result, and the treaty declaring the peace between the two countries recognized the rights of such people to their private properties (as deeded by Mexican or Spanish colonial authorities), their own religion (Roman Catholicism) and the right to speak and receive education in their own tongue (for the majority, Spanish). Therefore, the descendants of this population continue to press for such rights, and many hold that theirs is a colonized land and people in view of the fact that their territory and population was taken over by military force.

There are those that say they are taking away our jobs, but how can this be, for they are doing work no American wants to. As I write this, it is New Years day of 2010. I live in a complex where they are building new houses. And who do you think is out there building them right at this very moment? Yep, it`s the very people we try so hard to keep out. And it`s a holiday, but not for them. You see how we exploit them? No American citizen would be out there in the dead of winter and on New Year`s Day doing this. So what is so bad about them? That they`re not like us so we discriminate against them? And then there are the ones who are citizens. We have created a classic "niche" of descendants of immigrants who are full-fledged US citizens, but who typically do not have access to all the rights and privileges of citizenship because of the strong cultural identity imbued in them by their upbringing and the discriminatory reaction of the majority population against a non-assimilated and easily identified subclass.

This group of people feels a great need to distinguish itself from both its US milieu and its Mexican "Mother Culture," which does not typically welcome or accept "prodigals." This is truly a unique set of people, therefore, in that it endures both strong ties and strong discrimination from both US and Mexican mainstream parent cultures. The result has been the creation of a remarkable new culture that needs its own name and identity. So we call them Chicanos. A relatively recent term that has been appropriated by many Mexican descendants as unique and therefore reflective of their unique culture, though its first usage seems to have been discriminatory. The most likely source of the word is traced to the 1930 and 40s period, when poor, rural Mexicans, often native Americans, were imported to the US to provide cheap field labor, under an agreement of the governments of both countries. (There we go exploiting them again)

The term seems to have come into first use in the fields of California in derision of the inability of native Nahuatl speakers from Morelos state to refer to themselves as "Mexicanos," and instead spoke of themselves as "Mesheecanos," in accordance with the pronunciation rules of their language.  An equivocal factor is that in vulgar Spanish it is common for Mexicans to use the "CH" conjunction in place of certain consonants in order to create a term of endearment. Whatever its origin, it was at first insulting to be identified by this name. The term was appropriated by Mexican-American activists who took part in the Brown Power movement of the 60s and 70s in the US southwest, and has now come into widespread usage. Among more "assimilated" Mexican-Americans, the term still retains an unsavory connotation, particularly because it is preferred by political activists and by those who seek to create a new and fresh identity for their culture rather than to subsume it blandly under the guise of any mainstream culture. (I prefer to call them "people", because that is who they are. People, just like we are people. Isn`t that how the constitution phrases it, WE THE PEOPLE.)

So what I`m getting down to America is this. Isn`t it time we evolved? Isn`t it time for us to wake up and see the bigger picture? That the Earth contains many people (over 6 billion and counting), and that we are all different. That when we come together our diversities make us stronger (and even healthier). Think of it this way. Wouldn`t it be better for us and them if we made it easier to become Americans? Look at all the money we`re spending on a stupid border war. After all, they`re going to get here one way or the other. And then we would be able to tax them, adding to our growth. As it is now, us Americans are paying them under the table so they don`t have to pay taxes. It`s like hiring illegals is a corporation now that cheats America. Can`t you see this?

Let them in and make them part of our great nation. This is the picture I see of what the world can become, because if we don`t I think there are going to be consequences to pay.

The term "One For All, And All For One" Has great meaning to it. Let`s Evolve. Amen.