How to Correct Misconceptions about Mexico and Lose Your Friends At The Same Time
by Maggie Van Ostrand
We who live in Mexico, whether full- or part-time, have a duty to correct the enormous amount of misinformation perpetuated by foreign media. More creatures live with their heads in the sand than the ostrich.
For your personal enlightenment, if not to increase your popularity, I've prepared a list of common misconceptions and corrective responses. I suggest that you have a medic on call just in case anybody's blood pressure rises to a dangerously high point, since I can almost guarantee that you will witness a blush-pink of anger and disbelief coloring the cheeks of those upon whom you are trying to inflict some facts.
We all have friends, quite nice ones, too, who just don't know any better than to believe everything they see on television as they force their bleary eyes to process misinformation on the satellite news channels. This encompasses what they think they're seeing (sometimes it's computer enhanced) from the flashing and twirling bugs in the monitor corners (those little network symbols and mini-trailers for upcoming programs) to the banners of current events (often unconfirmed) reeling across the bottom of the monitor (including frequent misspellings of proper names and ordinary words). These news programs vie for top honors in misinformation right along with the foreign press.
How can our friends utilize their full intellectual capacities if they're bombarded with incorrect information? Is it not our duty, if not our downright mission, to inform everyone of the whole truth and nothing but? Don't you think people would want to know the facts? Of course they would.
Here are suggested responses to some common incorrect statements frequently repeated by unsuspecting, gullible viewers/readers, which silently scream out for correction:
Statement: Mexico is where drugs come from.
Response: You mean other than the ones manufactured or grown in Africa, India, Cuba, the middle east, and the U.S.A., not to mention Tony Soprano? Perhaps you're referring to the drugs transported through Mexico from other countries south of it. Places with different first names but the last name is always Cartel. Isn't that what you mean, dearie?
Statement: Mexicans have no business crossing borders.
Response: Well, don't get mad at me when you hear this, but Mexicans were there first. To name only those few states covered by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, we have Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. I'm not even counting Louisiana or the Carolinas or Florida or Kansas or any others which used to be at least partly Mexican. I wouldn't want you to go on Factoid Overload.
Said Treaty was signed in Mexico City on February 2, 1848, ended the Mexican War and extended the boundaries of the United States west to the Pacific Ocean. These states alone encompass more than 525,000 square miles of former Mexican territory.
Maybe your California friends would like to know that in 2002, for the first time since the 19th century, Mexican-American babies accounted for more than half of all California births.
Say, your coloring just got awfully strange. Are you okay?
Statement: Mexicans should learn English. If they move to the United States and become citizens, they should certainly speak English, the national language. Why should the U.S. have to provide translators at the expense of the taxpayer?
Response: I'll break this to you as gently as I can: The U.S.A. has no official national language and the reason is the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which guarantees American citizens the right to speak Spanish in schools, courts of law, employment, and everyday speech like "Un Grande Mac y una Coca-Cola por favor." You should really know this stuff, hon.
If at this point, your friend's jaw has dropped, his face has reddened, and he viciously jabs his cane at your chest, back away slowly. As you move further from him, yell this out good and loud:
"Did you know that Mexico is officially known as the United Mexican States? That's what Ignacio Burgoa Orihuela said and he should know. He's the nation's premier constitutional scholar."
You might wish to also holler out to the rapidly receding back of your friend, "According to the 2000 US Census, Hispanics make up the fastest growing consumer segment in the U.S., and they account for over 40% of all US population growth over the past decade. Representing over 35 million people with over $580 billion in spending power, Hispanics are now the largest minority population in the United States. Alone, the Hispanic middle and upper classes combined have a purchasing power of $333.3 billion."
While you could add a "Nya Nya," that would be overkill.
If you do run into friends who make such uninformed comments as listed above, just be sure your life insurance is paid up. Some people might wish to remain in their comfortable bubble of misinformation.
As to a name for this new truth movement, how about "The Sons of Don Quixote?" There are certainly enough los molinos to go around.