Sunday in the Park with Jorge
At the big Hansen Dam Recreation Center in the northeast San Fernando Valley last Sunday afternoon, a couple of thousand people were gathered to picnic. This was no special occasion, just a normal Sunday.
The crowd was virtually 100% Latino -- before I arrived with my family, a friendly African-American guy selling funnel cakes was the sole non-Hispanic. While we are constantly lectured about the wonders of "diversity," Mexicans seem to prefer ethnic homogeneity and monoculturalism. Indeed, the scene was identical to ones taking place a thousand miles to the south, and the picnickers couldn't be happier about that....
Neoconservative commentators frequently assume that Mexican immigrants will automatically assimilate into American culture because our way of life is just so much more wonderful. In reality, however, Mexican culture is mature, stable, deeply rooted, and highly appealing to Mexicans. ...
The idea that Mexican immigrants will gladly give up Mexican culture wouldn't make much sense to the people in Hansen Dam park. They were having a lot more fun than gringos would have.
About a dozen small bands were blaring mariachi music, creating a festive (if clashing) sound track. Horseback riders wove in and out among toddlers. Vendors sold South-of-the-Border specialties such as watermelon chunks covered with hot sauce.
Of course, the reason for much of the fun at Hansen Dam was that the LAPD has apparently given up trying, under sheer weight of numbers, to enforce any of those maricon American laws.
I'm not even talking about immigration laws, but about the kind of health, safety, and environment rules that are the pride of American liberalism. In contrast, Fred Reed, the curmudgeonly columnist who recently moved to Mexico because
One of the conundrums of modern politics is that lax immigration enforcement is importing a vast class of people who hold many of the proudest accomplishments of modern American liberals in contempt, on those rare occasions when the illegal immigrants even notice them. Mexicans bring with them a macho culture, which has its strengths and weaknesses, but they aren't strengths that liberals admire when found in white Americans.
... Say you're sitting around in the park with your brand new cowboy hat on, pounding back a few cervezas, and it occurs to you that since you have got the hat, you should get the horse to go with it. What could make more sense than going for a horseback ride through a crowded park full of tiny children?
Well, at Hansen Dam, you're in luck!
In the American part of
But at Hansen Dam on weekends, there are horse-owners around everywhere who will rent you a horse, few questions asked. They don't have signs advertising their business because what they are doing is illegal, so you have to ask (in Spanish, of course).
If one of the many toddlers about happens to stumble under the hooves of your mount and get trampled, well, that's tragic, but who could have foreseen such bad luck?
About 50 feet from where we were sitting, two young men started punching each other as hard as their state of inebriation would allow. Their friends swarmed in and separated them, trying to get the hotheads to calm down. But every few minutes, one would slip free from the restraining hands and attack his rival again. This was quite entertaining, but the fourth time the fight flared up, I got concerned that eventually somebody might pull out a gun.
So, we took off, gingerly dodging the drunk drivers in the parking lot. ...
In summary, there's much about Mexican culture I like. Ultimately, though, while
I shouldn't have to. That's what having separate countries is for. [More]
July 22, 2007
Sunday in the Park with Jorge