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Ask a Mexican!

by Gustavo Arellano

Dear Mexican: Why are there Mexicans in the Border Patrol? What a hypocritical thing to do to our people. — Carne Asada Carlos

Dear Wab: Not only are Mexicans in the Border Patrol, but la migra’s own figures show that Latinos make up about 52 percent of its force, comfortably outnumbering gabachos (that pop you just heard was the exploding heads of apoplectic Chicano studies majors). It’s easy for Mexicans to dismiss these agents as vendidos, but let’s not pretend the United States-Mexico border is a playground on the level of Xochimilco. Lot of bad people inhabit la frontera — drug-runners, coyotes, Guatemalan aliens who invaded Mexico first before setting their beady eyes on the United States — and no one is better than a Mexican to deal with scum, mostly because we deal with it daily in the form of our governments. Besides, don’t bash our Mexican migra — we all know those brown Border Patrol agents are Manchurian Mexicans waiting for Obama to become president so they can open the gates once and for all.

Mexican-Americans are named Eduardo, Juanita, Jose, Rosa, and all have a cousin named Jeff. What do they really think of their cousin Jeff? — Cousin Jeff

Dear Gabacho: Jeff’s a stoner pendejo who hasn’t returned my copy of Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie.

When I reveal to Mexican acquaintances that my mother’s side is German, I get a strange reaction of strong approval. The accordion in ranchera music is the only ap parent link I know of. Is there something else Germany did right by Mexico to garner such affection and honor, or is that it? — Haunted by Memories of Lawrence Welk

Dear Gabacho: Though your inclinations are right, your terminology is wrong. The Mexican music genre that employs accordions is conjunto

norteño, and it was Polacks and Bohunks that introduced squeezeboxes to the borderlands, not Germans. Krauts did influence banda sinaloense (the mestizo version of an oomph-pah band), but only wabs from central Mexico truly enjoy the sound of 18 brass instruments blasting into one’s ears. Some Mexicans mistakenly think we ripped off our quinceañera waltzes from Germans when in fact, we stole it from the Hapsburg court of Emperor Maximilian. And though Frida Kahlo’s father was born in Germany, that wouldn’t explain the awed hush you received. Maybe those Mexicans you hung out with bemoan the fate of the Zimmerman Telegram. That was the secret correspondence between German Empire officials where they planned to help Mexico retake the Southwest United States in return for its support during World War I; British cryptologists decoded the message, the United States declared war on the Huns and Mexico declined the offer. Nevertheless, this episode forever poisoned the relationship between Mexico and the United States to the point where the Zim merman Telegram makes up one-quarter of the quesadilla that is the Know Nothings’ modern-day Reconquista conspiracy theory (the other parts being the Aztec belief in Aztlan, the Spanish Reconquista against the Moors and the historical reality of Mexico’s territorial losses in its 1846 war against the United States). Mexicans look back on the Zimmerman Telegram as the country’s greatest what-if but don’t dwell on it too much — after all, we didn’t need Teutonic ayuda to accomplish what they proposed.

‘¡ASK A MEXICAN CONTEST! Want a free autographed copy of my new paperback book? Write a 25-word essay arguing why corn tortillas are better than flour, or vice versa. E-mail entries to themexican@askamexican. net. One winner per newspaper that carries the Mexican, so please specify in which paper you read your favorite wab. Your local rag doesn’t carry me? Top five finishers from that category, then!

Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at garellano@ocweekly.com. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we’ll make one up for you! Gustavo Arellano was born in Anaheim, California, to a tomato canner and an illegal immigrant. His critically acclaimed column “’¡Ask a Mexican!” has won the 2006 Association of Alternative Newsweeklies award for the best column in a large circulation weekly. He’s also a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times and has appeared on Today, Nightline, NPR’s On the Media, The Situation with Tucker Carlson, and The Colbert Report. For more information visit www.askamexican.net.

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