DEAR EDITOR:John Ross' article on the historic National Association of Chicana/o Studies conference in Mexico City [“Chicanos Return to Mexico,” July 31-August 6] is one of the more disappointing pieces of journalism I have seen in the Weekly. Leaving aside the gratuitous reference to “bloody Aztec sacrifice” (a classic cliche of U.S. ethnocentric writings on Mexico) and the account of the unfortunate murder of a young Chicano by police in the state of Michoacan (far away from and, I presume, unrelated to the conference), one wonders whether Ross actually attended the conference or merely threw his article together from bits of hearsay, his own leftover writings on dual nationality, and bad history.
For many of us who attended the NACCS conference, the journey to Mexico City was less a “return to our roots” than it was an opportunity to touch base once again with a language and a culture that are key ingredients for our personal and collective identities. Any Chicana/o who has lived for an extended period in Mexico understands full well that we are not “Mexican” (whatever that homogenizing term means in a country made up of multiple ethnicities). Nevertheless, many of us understand that contemporary movements for social and economic justice in Mexico are directly related to the future of the majority of Spanish-speaking peoples in the U.S. The unrelenting attacks in California against the most vulnerable members of our community are symptomatic of neo- liberalism's overall disregard for what Subcomandante Marcos has called “disposable populations.” The NACCS conference was a chance to strengthen both the Chicana/Chicano Movimiento and the ties of cross-border solidarity.
What is most disturbing about Ross' piece is his total misrepresentation of Chicano history. His claim that U.S. citizens of Mexican descent “remain a distinctly 20th-century phenomenon,” the products of “migratory patterns of impoverished Mexicans,” ignores the fundamental basis of the Chicana/o experience – the U.S. conquest of the Southwest. One would assume that Ross is aware that Spanish-speaking communities were present in what is now the USA long before 1848, yet he chooses to reproduce the stereotype that casts all Mexican-Americans as relatively recent immigrants. Ross' metaphor of Mexicans “clinging to their new home like barnacles to a rock” when faced with mass deportations in the 1950s is an unfortunate and deceptive image.
I suppose I was misled by what I thought was Ross' solid reporting on Mexican current events. Following this piece, I'm left to reconsider whether I can trust anything he writes in the future.
-Jorge MariscalUC San Diego
WITH ADMIRERS LIKE THESE . . .
DEAR EDITOR:As much as I admire Harold Meyerson's commentary, in his article on l'affaire Lewinsky [“Much Ado, Part II,” August 7-13], he conveniently forgets one important fact: Clinton did it to himself. He alone chose to pursue the line that he did not have sex with Ms. Lewinsky, and repeated that position under oath. Also, whether you lefties out there wish to believe it or not, something very smelly happened in an Arkansas land deal, resulting in the collapse of a federally insured bank, and Clinton's fingerprints are all over it. Whose responsibility is that? Ken Starr's?
A little advice for the left: Save your energies for the next wave. The current batch of boomers (1945-1952) in leadership retain that pathetic and puerile leftie idealism they picked up in college. The second boomer cohort (1953-1958) have little or no faith in the power of government to help them live their lives.
Suck it up, lefties! If you disliked 1994, you'll hate the next 40 years.
WHO NEEDS ENEMY?
DEAR EDITOR:After reading David Mermelstein's recent review of the RTC's production of An Enemy of the People [see Calendar section, Larger Theaters], all I can say is thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The only thing that made me angrier than watching the brutal slaughter of Ibsen's passionate play was witnessing the enthusiasm with which the Los Angeles press kissed Trevor Nunn and company's asses.
The fact that L.A.'s “the Brits can do no wrong” mentality turned this dumbed-down epic into some kind of must-see is truly shameful. Hopefully, people will heed Mr. Mermelstein's warning and save their money.
-Thorin R. WillisLos Angeles