Friday, June 14, 2013

Perros Cruzados; or, Just as American as Everyone Else

I thought I'd see how the fuss over Sebastien de la Cruz was shaping up a day later.  Turns out he was invited to sing the National Anthem again, at another NBA game, and got an encouraging Tweet from President Obama.  (Ambiguity Alert: a link to a related post under the HuffPost story about de la Cruz, titled "The Evolution of Race Control," was not about what I first thought: it turned out to be a Road & Track piece about the management of timing and scoring at the Indianapolis Speedway.)

Some of the rhetoric celebrating Sebastien de la Cruz was, as I feared, just the flip side of the rhetoric attacking him.  In this story, for example, the word "CHAMP" has been superimposed on the freeze-frame of the video of his "encore" performance.  Well, no, he's not a champ.  He's a talented kid, not a champion.  The writer goes on to report that not only is the kid a native born Amurrican citizen, he's a native of San Antonio.  Yeah, cool, but the only reason this information matters is to counter the lies of the racists, but it risks conceding their assumption that a foreigner shouldn't be singing Our National Anthem.  Being a native of anywhere is a historical accident, not an achievement.

The writer then notes that one of the racist tweeters (an African-American from her Twitter avatar) "has since disabled her Twitter account, ostensibly because of her public shamingI suspect this writer meant "probably."  Did Tia Ermana Jordan say "Disabling my account Bcuz U R all shaming me"?  If so, she'd probably be telling the truth, so her excuse wouldn't be "ostensible."  "Ostensibly" means that she said one thing, say, "Disabling my account bcuz I'm bored with it," but had another true reason.  Has she even given a reason, or is the account just MIA?

"He's not Mexican, he's American!" Even if he were Mexican, why shouldn't a Mexican sing the Star Spangled Banner? "He's a native San Antonian!" So? We need to dwell less on where people were born and more on the kind of people they are. (By which standard, Sebastien would still rate higher than the racists who attacked him from the anonymous safety of Twitter.)

Sebastien's father "performed a long tour of duty with the United States Navy, protecting the country he calls home and place where he chose to raise his child."  Again, "performed" is not the best word for the job here, but more important, the US Navy hasn't protected the US in my lifetime: all our wars since the end of World War II have been wars of aggression.  Besides, a good many undocumented immigrants have served in the US military, and died there for that matter.  Maybe Sebastien's champions should question whether being an undocumented immigrant is a sign of moral or existential inferiority, instead of letting racists set the terms of the discussion.

At the end of the article, the reader is invited to "Share If You Applaud Sebastien's Temperance."  What is this, the WCTU?  Did Sebastien take the Pledge?  "Temperance" is actually one of the better word choices here, but given the writer's general style, it must be accidental.

I love my Mexican friends, but I always feel uneasy when they talk about La Raza.  That isn't an innocent concept in Mexico either, with its complicated history of racism and oppression. Mexicans are ambivalent about being mestizos, "mixed."  I've often noticed that in most clasical Mexican cinema, all the main cast are "Castilian"-looking; Indios are visible in the crowd scenes, as extras, but rarely get speaking parts except as Indios, not Mexicanos.  That's not what Mexico really looks like.  "Puro Mexicano" is as screwed-up a notion as "100% American." Mexicans, like USAns, are mongrels, and Viva the mongrels of this world.