Editor’s note: A government-economics teacher who goes by Miguel Monreal recently reached out to What’s Up and asked if he could be a guest columnist and share his stance on Mexican-Americans’ solidarity with Mexico. Holding a B.A. in English and Political Science and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico, Monreal is in the process of establishing Mexico News Watch, a non-profit devoted to promoting an informed understanding of Mexico. Please note that the opinions expressed are solely those of Monreal.
As a third-generation Mexican-American, my direct connection to Mexico is, by most standards, highly attenuated. And while I, as a U.S. citizen, harbor a strong sense of loyalty to the U.S., I also harbor a strong sense of solidarity with the people of Mexico.
My sense of solidarity with Mexico has made me keenly aware of the double standard that is often applied to Mexican-Americans when it comes to evaluating their loyalty to the U.S. This double standard is defined by a dichotomous logic that equates any interest in or active support of Mexico by a Mexican American as an act of disloyalty towards the United States.
I have personally found myself, for example, subject to various forms of admonishment, for among other things, wearing a Mexican soccer team jersey, showing an interest in Mexican history and politics, displaying a Mexican flag, or, for daring to contradict some piece of conventional wisdom, however misinformed, regarding Mexico.
On a broader level, I am reminded of the reaction to the immigration rallies opposing Proposition 187 that occurred in 2006 in cities throughout the United States. The fact that many of the demonstrators participating in these rallies were Mexican American and dared to wave Mexican flags provoked a firestorm of outraged hysteria in the national media. Syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor, Robert Novak, for example, pointed out that “brandishing the Mexican flag” signaled a “divided loyalty to a foreign power.” Bill O’Reilly cited the display of the Mexican flag during the rallies as evidence of an incipient “race war,” while Patrick Buchanan, in one of the more extreme and bizarre manifestations of this thinking, discerned a vast and nefarious plot to reconquer the Southwestern United States in the “sea of Mexican flags” he observed during the rallies.
I can’t imagine any other American ethnic group being subject to such a virulent attack for simply expressing solidarity with the people of their ancestral homelands. Why is it acceptable, on the one hand, for Cuban Americans or Jewish Americans, for example, to actively promote the interests of Cuban nationals or Israeli nationals respectively but not acceptable, on the other hand, for Mexican Americans to promote the interests of Mexican nationals? Contrary to the orthodox position on this issue, there is no inherent contradiction between being loyal to the United States, and supporting the people of Mexico in their struggle for economic and political justice.
Ultimately, what is clearly unacceptable is for Mexican Americans to continue to allow themselves to be subject to the double standard of loyalty that has prevented them from developing a stronger and more productive relationship with Mexico.