August 30th, 2008
MEXICAN IMMIGRANT BECOMES A STAR
By Leo Laurence
by Leo E. Laurence; Member: S-P-J National Committee on Diversity
We are a nation of immigrants. That diversity makes us strong!
Unfortunately, we also have a looooong (sic) history of treating those immigrants in the worst way, and we’re still doing it; especially with anyone with brown skin (Latinos).
Also unfortunately, our mainstream media sometimes feeds on this hostility towards immigrants, particularly by the way our print and broadcast journalists continue to refer to the undocumented as “illegal immigrants.”
That’s unfortunate because it is offensive to our Constitutional doctrine of the “presumption of innocence,” firmly embedded in our English common-law form of jurisprudence. Only a judge can say who is illegal. Not journalists. Not the Minutemen!
Some say that may be a sign of the fear so many insecure Anglos in the United States are experienceing regarding their diminishing status in American culture. They worry as the number of Latinos continues to dramatically increase proportionately as compared with whites.
Some even predict that the United States may become a Spanish-speaking country in 50-years, joining the nations of Central and South America. That really, really scares many in our white population, BIG time. Unfortunately, our mainstream media sometimes feeds on that fear.
Fortunately, the Beijing Olymics provided us with a bright spot on the immigrant issue, too often flooded with the “illegal immigrant” hatred.
“Immigrants don’t come empty-handed,” as columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr. of the “San Diego Union Tribune” recently wrote.
“These (immigrants) bring their hopes for a better future for their children and work ethic that often puts natives to shame,” Navarrette wrote.
I’ve personally seen that strong work ethic so many times coast-to-coast. Mexican laborers are really, really a hard-working group; oftentimes laboring much harder than many other ethnic groups including whites.
And, most of the jobs these immigrants take are those that American whites don’t want – in the hot farm fields providing us with the food we eat, and cleaning up after us in our sumptuous homes and hotels.
“And, they apply (their extremely strong work ethic) to a million different pursuits, including Olympic gold,” Navarrette wrote (See SignOnSanDiego.com).
“Thirty-three U.S. Olympic athletes for these Games were immigrants, (and) a number of those were sons and daughters of immigrants.
“Among the immigrants: Sudanese refugee and 1,500 meter runner Lopez Lamong, who (proudly was elected to) serve as the flag-bearer for the United States in the Opening Ceremonies.
“(Another was) beach volleyball player Phil Dalhausser, who lives in Ventura, CA; and gymnist Nastia Liukin, whose parents brought her from Russia in 1992 and now lives in Parker, Texas; and Alexander Artemev, who was born in the Soviet Union and now lives in Highlands, CO,” Navarrette wrote.
There were others.
But the immigrant who impressed me the most – partly because he brought glory to the United States - but who also would be condemned by many of our anti-Mexican immigrant haters – is a 21-year-old wrestler.
“. . . (F)or my money the best U.S. immigrant story of these Games belonged to wrestler Henry Cejudo, all 5-feet-4 and 121 pounds of him,” wrote Navarrette.
“Cejudo, who was a long shot to win ANY medal in Beijing, won the gold in the freestyle wrestling after defeating (the favored) Japan’s Tomohiro Matsunaga. Cejudo celebrated by breaking into tears and – after family members in the stands tossed him an American flag – wrapping himself in Old Glory and parading around the arena.
“The road to victory was long,” wrote Navarrette, one of the nation’s leading Mexican columnists in America.
“The son of (undocumented) immigrants from Mexico City, Cejudo was born in Los Angeles (and therefore is an American citizen), but moved around the southwest.
“Raised by his mother after his parents separated when he was 4, he grew up poor and eventually looked at wrestling to save his life. It did!
“In his moment of glory, Cejudo didn’t forget that. He proclaimed his love for his country and settled the questions that pokes at so many immigration restrictionists – that of alleged, divided loyalties – the same suspicions that made life difficult for immigrant American-Germans and American Japanese in the 20th century.
“‘I’m proud of my Mexican heritage,’ Cejudo told reporters. ‘But, I’m an American! It’s the best country in the world. They call it the Land-of-Opportunity, and it is.’
“Cejudo had one advantage: his mother. She didn’t coddle him or tolerate excuses. Instead, while working two and sometimes three jobs, she pounded into his head what it took to be successful in this country.
“‘I never played the victim,’ Cejudo said. ‘My Mom taught us to suck it up. Whatever you want to do, you can do; and that’s about it.’
“‘That’s my kind of Mom.’
“And (Mexican immigrant Cejudo) is my kind of American. This country could use more folks like him,” wrote Navarrette.
“Those who want to seal off America have a crass term for the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. They call them ‘anchor babies,’ who help keep their undocumwented parents rooted here. Some restrictionists even want to amend the Constitutiona so that, in the future, children born in this country of undocumented immigrants would be denied citizenship in order to make it easier to deport them.
“It’s a dangerous and despicable idea.
“It’s not the parents who are anchored in the United States. It’s their kids – people like Henry Cejudo. He made his choice. He’s not going anywhere. And, if you want to pry that American flag – ‘his’ flag – away from him, you’re going to have to wrestle him for it,” wrote “San Diego Union Tribune” columnist Navarrette.
As diversity in any newsroom will make it stronger, diversity in America will continue to make out country stronger, just as Mexican immigrant – and U.S. citizen – Cejudo did when he brought home the gold medal in wrestling to our great country.