Render Unto Chávez


Dear Mexican: Whenever I have an immigration debate with my Chicano hermanos who support open borders, they don’t seem to understand that they can never demand wage increases as long as a steady flow of their friends keeps coming. Will somebody please remind them that César Chávez was against illegal immigration because it ruined his union’s chances of demanding better pay? —El Confused-o Gringo-o

Dear Gabacho: I will! Yes, Virginia: Not only was César Chávez against illegal immigration, not only did he speak out against the Mexican invasion before Congress, not only did United Farm Workers members monitor the U.S.-Mexico border à la the Minutemen, but Chávez even sicced la migra on the undocumented from time to time. But the curious case of Chávez evolved under pressure from Chicano yaktivists. Know Nothings love to repeat Chávez’s initial hatred of open borders—so much so that a page on the UFW’s website now claims that Chávez was against scabs, not illegal immigration, despite reams of evidence to the contrary. But pointing out Chávez’s original opposition as validation of one’s anti-immigrant views, while disregarding his Aztlanista tendencies, is like homophobes basing their bigotry on the Old Testament while not bothering to follow the Nazarene’s insistence on loving thy neighbor.

Why are words in Spanish in your column in italics? When I read these italicized words, I feel I should make quote signs with my fingers and read them in a more American accent. Maybe that’s just the way I read them, but wouldn’t it be more worthy to integrate those words into the American language? —Putting the “Fun” in “Fundamentalist Grammar”

Dear Wab: Although the Mexican treats American immigration law the same way his countrymen regard the U.S. soccer team, he must grovel to the caudillos that are his copy editors, all of whom would deport me if I didn’t italicize Spanish words. It’s an arcane rule devised long ago by gabachos who figured gabacho readers were too pendejos to know when a word was foreign. Although some Chicano authors don’t italicize Spanish or Spanglish words as a political statement against God- knows-what, I like slanting palabras— it’s a constant reminder to gabachos to get with the programa.

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