Sunday, October 08, 2006

Herr Gouverneur ist ein Esel

With apologies for the disrespectful and undoubtedly incorrect German in the title, Governor Schwarzenegger, get your head out of the sand. Thank you Cindylou for alerting us to the Governor's recent remarks:

"They try to stay Mexican but try to be in America, so there's this back and forth,'' Schwarzenegger said, surrounded by Asian-Americans at a Moon Festival celebration in Los Angeles. ``What I say to Mexicans is you have got to go immerse yourself and assimilate into American culture and become part of the American fabric. That's how America will embrace you."

To begin with, the governor needs to check out a map. The United States is not the only American nation. More importantly, what does the Governor have to teach a culture that has been part of the fabric of the Southwest before the United States even ruled the area? Mexicans have been assimilating into the culture of the United States ever since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and new immigrants continue to do so. Assimilation, at its best, is not cultural suicide. Successful immigrants learn the cultural, economic and legal byways in order to work and live fully in the new culture while at the same time preserving and passing on the best of their home cultural traditions and values. In my experience, children of immigrants are best served when their parents not only give them tools to succeed in their adopted country but also pass on the linguistic richness and moral fiber of their homeland.

Immigrants contribute to our country not only by working, paying taxes, and raising good citizens. They also enrich us by sharing their cultural heritage. Here in central California, the cultural calendar includes Cinco de Mayo and 16 de Septiembre parades and festivals, Portuguese festas, Scandifest, Diwalli Festival, the Greek Food Festival, Café Shalom, the Assyrian Festival, the Japanese rice pressing festival to name only a few. Ours is not the only country that borrows from others linguistically and culturally. The fundraising kermesses in Mexico and other Latin American countries and the European polka influence in norteño music come to mind.

Countries that share common borders also tend to share language and culture. That is why we are much more likely to ask for carne asada or chile verde than weinerschnitzel. Governor Schwarzenegger, you´ve lived in California for a while now, you work in Sacramento, in the San Joaquin Valley. When you leave your mansion, you step into a California cultural heritage richly steeped in Spanish language and hispanic culture. Wake up and smell the café con leche.


At 1:47 PM, Blogger cindylu said...

I'm glad you're blogging again since you always make excellent points.

I've come to think as assimilation (at least the way described by people like Schwarzenegger or right-wing pundits) as cultural suicide. It seems very either/or. I don't see why it's bad to take a little bit from here and keep a little bit from there. If completely immersing myself in the fabric Arnold describes means cutting ties to my family in Mexico, then I opt out. It's not even the country per se, it's simply family ties.

At 4:09 PM, Blogger KJERRINGA MOT STROMMEN said...

Hi Cindylu - I so agree. And the day more people have family ties in more than one country or at least see others as family is the day we live together in peace.

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you find the reference to American fabric interesting? Likely the greatest fabric art in this country (although it did not originate here) is the quilt. Little pieces of lovely material from many parts of life, sewn together into a blanket that is better than the sum of its parts, made with love, keeping the chill away. Teragram

At 5:38 PM, Blogger KJERRINGA MOT STROMMEN said...

Hi Teragram - Thanks for the apt analogy

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Julissa said...

I'm in total agreement with Cindylu's point on the right wing response on assimilation. usually, when I try to make the point my words get twisted but you definitely hit the nail on the head - cultural suicide.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger miricaro said...

Excellent post!

At 8:36 PM, Blogger miricaro said...

Excellent post!


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