As the world’s foremost expert in midget photography, I’ve never had much interest or time for politics. I do vote, but only because assorted rappers and pro-wrestlers encourage me to. Also, they threaten to kill or atomic backbreaker me if I don’t. Being ignorant of anything to do with politics, I’ll just tend to vote for the candidate whose name is worth the most points in Scrabble. So, Xavier Q. Zyzzevsky, I don’t care that you’re a Communist, you’ve got my vote.
But occasionally, I come across an issue that I’ll want to take more seriously. And by “take more seriously” I mean, “be able to discuss with people who don’t need to use a sippy cup. And the issue du jour for me is immigration, particularly the plight of illegal immigrants in America. You might be asking yourself why a white, English-speaking guy who lives in Canada would possibly concern himself with this issue. I don’t really have a great answer for that, so I’m going to ask you to picture Whoopi Goldberg’s crotch until you’ve forgotten you asked. It won’t take long.
“As far as people go, Mexicans kick ass. I don’t know, is it racist if you like a particular group of people more than others?”
I’m ashamed to admit that I know barely anything about immigrants. Not as ashamed as the time I wet my pants while slipping on a banana peel at the cheerleader convention, but ashamed nonetheless. I know that in 1970, Led Zeppelin released “Immigrant Song,” which really wasn’t about Mexicans, but in fact, Vikings. It also enjoyed new life as an anthem for some hilariously fucked-up internet animation.
But I’m not sure if that’s relevant, politically speaking, since the Vikings never even met the Mexicans, outside of Benetton ads. If only our Norse brethren had landed further south, we might be enjoying delicious herring tacos, and wearing sombreros with horns on them. But this didn’t happen, and as a direct result, America now has an immigration problem.
As I understand it, there are a lot of immigrants in the United States, and not all of them are there legally. I know the Statue of Liberty claims to welcome your poor, and your huddled masses, but isn’t there something written on her giant metal panties to cover this situation? Illegal immigrants aren’t really criminals in a behavioral sense, but they are breaking the law. Accordingly, it’s kind of hard to contradict the bulletheads who want to round them up and kick them out.
I don’t even live in the United States, and I can see what a privilege it must be. Sure they’ve got their problems, but we’re talking about a country that has TV channels that show only movies about naked girls using karate to teach erotic lessons. In other words, America is a land of unlimited choice. That’s very important if you’re coming from someplace like Mexico, where the only thing on TV is soccer, or ancient sitcoms (a friend swears that Different Strokes enjoys popularity as “Blanco y Negro,” and that Maryanne from Gilligan’s Island is now, for linguistic reasons, called Juanita).
So, it’s not difficult to see why Mexicans are trying to get in. And as far as people go, Mexicans kick ass. I don’t know, is it racist if you like a particular group of people more than others? Admittedly, my view is kind of influenced by the fact that I’ve only known one genuine Mexican, but it was a profound friendship. I was living abroad, and he was the only other English speaker in a 20-mile radius that I cared to talk to.
At first I thought he was the racist one, what with the way he pronounced the word “you” as “Jew.” He would ask “Jew going to go shopping today?” and I’d think, “Man, is it that obvious?” But after a while, it didn’t matter, as our friendship grew to be predicated on insults anyhow. In other words, he’d have no problem calling me a neurotic cheapskate, and I’d have no problem calling him my gardener.
His name was Jesus (which was confusing as hell to the locals), but everyone called him Fernando. Except the guy who took down names at the bowling alley who mistakenly registered him as “Femondo,” causing paroxysms of laughter. Nando was they type of guy who was fiercely loyal when it came to defending his friends, and had about a thousand ways to fuck you up if you crossed the line. In fact, Nick’s rabid defense of PIC in the recent plagiarism scandal reminds me a bit of my old friend. You have to respect a guy that’s willing to come out swinging and not back down.
In any case, I happen to know that Nando’s family immigrated to the U.S. legally, but I got to thinking: suppose they hadn’t. What would that have meant? Well, for one thing, I never would have met the guy, his employment options limited by his status. His family might even have been found out and sent back, robbing the country of some damn fine, hardworking people. That would have been a terrible shame.
The main problem people seem to have with immigrants is employing them. Workers fear that Mexicans will take their jobs because they’re willing to work for lower wages. Well, I’ve seen enough episodes of the George Lopez show to know that it’s nothing to worry about. The secret to staying employed is to be indispensable. If you, say, bake muffins, be the best, most efficient muffin-baker there ever was. Besides, the immigrants are willing to do a lot of the crappy jobs no American wants to do anyway. And I’m not just talking about mariachi singers and taco assemblers.
By the way, I haven’t really seen The George Lopez show. I wouldn’t abuse myself like that. But the only other cultural landmark that I could think of was Speedy Gonzales, and unless “cheese thief” or possibly “stereotype” is a viable source of income for immigrants, it just didn’t seem appropriate to mention.
Immigration a desperately tricky issue, and feelings on it run pretty deep. I personally believe that the immigration laws should be more lenient. How many lives must we lose to shoddy catapults made of tamale husks, designed to hurl Mexicans over the border? It’s an outrage. Mexicans have a lot to offer American society, so everyone should just grab a bottle of tequila and an extra-crunchy zest chalupa and chill the fuck out.
Essential New Word of the Week:
bipow (‘bIphau) n: Have you ever noticed how you’re a bit more flatulent the day after a big night out drinking? Mr. Wizard never explained why, but at least there’s an easy way to refer to the phenomenon. This week’s word is an acronym, and if you’ve ever gone SCUBA diving or work for NASA…you probably still don’t know what I’m talking about. But a bipow is literally, a beer-induced pocket of wind. Those pockets are smaller in volume, but stronger in potency. You never feel them coming until it’s too late. And they tend to hang around until after you’ve shaken the hangover.