The two major dailies in Los Angeles had follow-up takes as different as night and day on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest off-the-cuff remarks. The L.A. Times goes with this breezy report on shrugs from the Democrats Arnold talked smack about, while La Opinion headlines its story: Governor attacks Mexicans. "Attacks" seems a bit strong, as these were off-the-record musings, but the subtext of outrage seems entirely appropriate.
Like a lot of people, I tend to dismiss whatever Schwarzenegger says as the words of a misguided if charming simpleton. But imagine, for the sake of discussion, how the English-language press would respond if the governor's disparaging comments on Mexicans would have been directed in some form at Jews or African Americans. I can't find any voices in English countering the patently prejudicial idea that Mexican immigrants resist assimilating, much less any discussion on what these antiquated ideas of "assimilation" even mean anymore. The unequal distribution of L.A. media anger on this story is especially stinging in Latino Los Angeles.
"It's proven that within two generations, Mexicans assimilate, and there's not a single one that doesn't want to learn and be successful in this country," state Sen. Gil Cedillo told La Opinion. Thanks for that, but where's Fabian, Gloria, Antonio, Hilda ...?
I'm told this morning that the governor's words on Mexicans were being fumed about on all the Spanish-language radio stations. And people wonder why Mexicans and other Latinos feel under attack in this country and lash back in emotional ways. Thankfully, we can count on bilingual, bicultural Californians, the young people who will inherit this state, to think progressively and pragmatically on issues of cultural unity and national identity. * Photo above, the face of the future in California, by Ted Soqui.