And if it does, share in the comments, I’d like to converse on these topics, of which there will be three.
El Tema Uno (And just so you know, I looked this up and thought tema, ending in an -a- would be feminine and thus it would be “la tema uno” or “la tema una” but the example that popped up used “el tema” so I’m going with the example.)
I thought about writing about this on Monday but decided to pass on the topic (tema), but then the morning radio show I listen to occasionally was still talking about it today. And I just go so monumentally frustrated. So, without further ado … el tema uno es …
Here’s my deal. I don’t watch much television these days (mostly sports), and when I do watch television, as soon as the commercials start, I tune out by going back to the book I was reading or whatever is on my laptop screen or going to the bathroom or checking the lint in my navel. I’ll do anything before I’ll waste my time watching commercials. As a result, when the Super Bowl comes around, I have to break a year’s worth of not watching commercials. More often than not, I don’t do a very good job of it and the next day when everybody is talking about the commercials, I’m generally not involved in the conversation. They’re commercials for chrissakes!
Sunday night, however, I did see the Coca-Cola commercial and here’s what I said to the family when it was over. “Hell, how could they do that? Have brown people singing America the Beautiful and in foreign languages? Don’t they realize that’s reserved for us white people?” Now, hopefully, you all know me well enough by now to know I didn’t actually mean that. Instead, I just knew that there were wonderful, kind-hearted, open-minded Americans sitting in their living rooms saying exactly that. Or maybe something akin to it, laced with words that start with the letter “f” and end with “$#%^.” I think you know what I mean.
In reality, here is my actual reaction to the commercial. It is one of the most visually beautiful, auditorily stunning commercials I have ever seen. There is so much that is right about the commercial and what it says about my America. A country built up on the diversity of its people, that cherishes differences. That worships family, brotherhood, children, and seniors. There actually is something in that commercial that reflects virtually every aspect about what makes the real America great.
Of course, the reaction started almost immediately and my mock outrage pretty much tracked what followed. I have generally stayed away from the Twitterness on this and skipped the articles and blog pieces on it. Mercifully, none of my FB friends posted anything negative about it. But there were two ways in which I was exposed to it.
First, one FB friend, who is an incredible young lady in her first year of college posted something about how incredible the commercial was and that she was Mexican-American and proud of it and always would be proud of it. She actually is truly Mexican-American in some sense because her father is one of those caucasian types and her mother is of Mexican descent. So, I read that post and my initial reaction was “love this, but …” And, here’s the but, I initially thought that I can see how some people might get tired of the [country of ancestry]-American issue. That, at some point, shouldn’t people who have been here long enough, or who are enough generations removed from the “old country” be Americans, just plain Americans. Wait a sec … don’t start your screaming yet … I realized the error of my ways (although I’m not sold on the idea that it entirely in error).
The second exposure I had was that damn radio show. Here in Sacramento, there is a long-running morning show called Rob, Arnie and Dawn. They spoke about this commercial on Monday and again today. I didn’t listen on Tuesday. Arnie’s role on the show is this — he’s from Texas and he’s white and he’s a old-time conservative, redneck Southerner. He’s intolerant of everything. Hates everybody. And thinks that the only thing worth valuing is the Dallas Cowboys and things that harken back to the good ol’ days. You can imagine what his reaction to this commercial was. It made him sick. It disgusted him. It just reminded him of how we’ve lost this country. How we can’t make English our official language. About how people who immigrate to this country no longer have to assimilate. They don’t have to learn English. They don’t have to …. blah, blah, blah. It just goes on and on and on.
And, here’s where I realized something. He has absolutely romanticized the past and made it something it isn’t and it’s why I no longer really think that current immigrants should get rid of the [country of ancestry]-American label. Arnie thinks that back in the good ol’ days people immigrated to this country because they wanted to be Americans and they had to learn English and it’s just not like that any more. He even suggests that you don’t need to know English to survive in business in this country — suggesting that he goes into stores and doesn’t have a clue what’s going on because the employees don’t speak English and he has no idea what the signs says.
Talk about not knowing our history. Let me give you a few examples:
1. For how many decades did immigrants from Europe refer to themselves as Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, etc. In my memory, that kind of [country of ancestry]-American label has been around forever. It’s not some newfangled thing that Mexican-Americans and African-Americans have come up with. It is how we have always labeled people of different ancestries in this country. Certainly better that than, wop, nip, chink, spic, or … well, you get the idea.
2. Here’s a question for my readers who descended from Europeans who immigrated to this country early in the 20th century. How many of you remember grandparents or great grandparents who never really learned English? Here’s my point — there were a lot who didn’t. What they did was learn enough to get by — which is exactly what most first generation immigrants do. Again, nothing has changed.
3. Businesses. I’ve been to plenty of Mexican restaurants in all different types of neighborhoods. I’ve been to plenty of places in Chinatown and Japantown and other ethnic enclaves in this country. I have never, ever had a problem communicating with the employees or others in those restaurants and shops. They absolutely must learn functional English to survive in this country. To suggest that they don’t is to ignore reality.
4. Way back when, newly arrived immigrants gathered in neighborhoods where they lived with others from their homeland. Italian neighborhoods. Polish neighborhoods. Jewish neighborhoods. You get it. But as the next generations grew up and prospered, they moved out and assimilated more into neighborhoods that were made up of different ethnic groups. Guess what is happening now. Look at your neighborhood and tell me how many second or third generation descendants of “brown” races are your neighbors.
Here’s what I fundamentally believe. When the immigrants were from Europe, it was OK to struggle to learn the language. It was OK to be Polish-American and Italian-American. It was OK to congregate in neighborhoods that were concentrated around specific ethnicities. But, now that the immigrants are brown people, it’s not OK. Hate to be blunt, but as far as I can tell, that’s the only difference between the habits and practices of the immigrants of the early 20th century and the immigrants that are the focus today.
I’ll go back to the commercial again. Watch it and really think about it. It’s a thing of beauty and yet it has become a thing that has scratched at the scabby underbelly of this country. I don’t know why I continue to be amazed by things like this.
Topic Number Two
A little over 20 years ago, during a bitter custody dispute brought about by Woody Allen’s affair with Mia Farrow’s then 19-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, who was at the time seven years old and was an adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, accused Allen of sexually molesting her. The tale was big news at the time. Allen was never charged criminally in the matter (and as far as I know no civil suit was every brought against him). He was, however, as a result of the allegations, denied custody and visitation rights.
Earlier this week, Dylan Farrow published an open letter on the subject. Since then there have been a number of articles and blog posts written on the subject. Many people defending Woody Allen and many others supporting Ms. Farrow. What amazes me is how quickly people are to reach conclusions about his innocence or guilt when there is simply no way anybody other than the two of them can possibly know what happened. What amazes me even more are some of the reasons people cite for their conclusions.
As it relates to me, I’ll give you an example. Around the time of the allegations, Woody Allen continued to make movies. Many of his movies involve older male characters being involved in relationships with younger female characters. Ah-ha, these people conclude — life is imitating art. Watch his movies and you realize that he is a pervert, molesting small children and getting away with it.
Well, I guess that means, I have one-night stands and survive ensuing rape trials by the skin of my teeth. I also engage in rape fantasies and forced my teenage girlfriend to have sex with me Right? Well, no, actually, none of those things actually happened in my real life. The day that artists are convicted, or at least assumed guilty in the world of public opinion, of crimes based on the content of their art is the day that we should all just stop writing, painting, making music, and directing movies.
And, now, I’m gonna do what I criticize a lot of those people for. I’m gonna tell you what I think about the whole controversy. I don’t believe Woody Allen did it, but I reserve final judgment since it really is impossible to know. Everything the experts have ever said about child molesters is that it is a crime that repeats itself. Molesters don’t just do it once and then cure themselves. So, the story seems to be this … during an incredibly bitter custody dispute, Woody Allen molested one of his children (over whom the dispute was about) and, as far as we know, never molested a child before or since. Does that add up to you? Yes, maybe he has molested others and they just haven’t come forward. That most certainly isn’t unheard of, but do you really think it is likely? You know what isn’t unheard of — trumped up molestation allegations suddenly cropping up in the midst of custody disputes.
The way I look at it … Woody Allen is the Svengali to end all Svengalis — he has created some type of mind control over his wife and teenage daughters and is doing horrendous things to them and they think it’s normal and haven’t reported it. Or the Dylan Farrow allegations were planted in her head by her mother and eventually became “true” to her and now a part of her past — even if they aren’t actually true.
And now it’s on to Topic Three
I think I’d like to bypass the 2016 Presidential Election. I realize it’s a long ways off and plenty could change, but we’re basically looking at a contest that is Hillary Clinton against one of the following: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie (hehe), Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin (don’t laugh, there’s at least one poll that shows she’s the favorite of likely Republican primary voters among likely candidates), Marco Rubio, and god knows who else.
I’m flummoxed by this. I absolutely cannot stand the idea of Hillary Clinton being the nominee of my party. From 1980 through 2004, every single Presidential election involved either a Bush or a Clinton on the ticket of one of the parties. We’ve had a break from that the last two elections and I’d like to see that break continue. I don’t believe in political dynasties. I don’t think we should be limiting our choices to members of the same political families. That’s not a democracy, that’s some type of nepotism run amuck.
I’m also not convinced that Hillary Clinton is all she’s cracked up to be. I really would like to see a real contest on the Democrat side. And barring that, I would love to see an opportunity for a moderate, rational Republican to come out of that side of the contest. But, I look at who the potential candidates and, well, tell me where that moderate, rational Republican is. Here’s where I thought I might list all of the problems with each of the potential candidates, but it’s pointless. That would take far too long and I’ve already gone on far too long with this post anyway.
There is something that is just very foul about 2016. This is going to be a bad election cycle. I’m not very optimistic. Please convince me why I should be.