Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Those Crazy Mexicans

I agree with Daniel Hernandez's post about the Governor's recently released remarks about Mexicans and assimilation. On the one hand, I view Schwarzenegger as a loose cannon, apt to make ridiculous and 'politically incorrect' comments; on the other hand, this pendejo is our Governor, and the least he can do is not inflame racial tensions or give fodder to the Minutemen.

Here's the money paragraph from the L.A. Times that irritated me when I read it:

Conceding that it would be difficult for him to say so publicly, Schwarzenegger said that Latinos — because they are so close to their homeland — have more trouble assimilating than, say, Poles, Germans and French. Still, as an Austrian immigrant, he said, "I made an effort. But the Mexicans don't make that effort."

What the Times crack team of researchers fails to spot is the inaccuracy of the statement that it would be hard for Schwarzenegger to say this publicly. Last October, he was asked about assimilation in L.A.'s Chinatown, and responded thusly:

Recalling his own experience emigrating from his native Austria, the Republican governor said immigrants should learn English, learn U.S. history and "make an effort to become part of America."

"That is very difficult for some people to do especially, I think, for Mexicans because they are so close to their country here so they try to stay Mexican, but try to be in America. So there's this kind of back and forth," he said.

"What I'm saying to the Mexicans is you've got to go and immerse yourself and assimilate into the American culture, become part of the American fabric. That is how Americans will embrace you," he said.

"That was my ... secret, if there is one, to success. I was embraced by the American people because I love America," he added. "This is my advice. Someone can take the advice, or someone can ignore the advice. It's perfectly fine with me."

First off, all immigrants, regardless of their home country, take time to assimilate. However, as a white European, Schwarzenegger undoubtably had an easier time assimilating in the late twentieth century than say, a Sicilian in the late 1800s.

In addition, the belief that Mexicans fail to assimilate is a myth. There are higher rates of recent immigration among Latino immigrants than that of other groups, which skews data and perception; however, by the third generation, not only do most Latino immigrants primarily speak English, many speak ONLY English. (I'm a good example of this myself.)

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