By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
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 U.S.-Mexico border is a playground on the level of Xochimilco. Lots 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.
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 apparent 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 musical 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 oompah 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 the Germans when, in fact, we stole it from the Austrians, the Hapsburg court of Emperor Maximilian. And though Frida Kahlo's father was born in Germany, that wouldn't explain the awed hushes you've received. Maybe those Mexicans you hung out with bemoan the fate of the Zimmerman Telegram. That was the secret correspondence between German Empire officials when 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 Zimmerman 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 Aztlán, 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.