I had a friend in high school who thought my mom came from San Salvador. I corrected her a few times by pointing out that mi madre’s homeland is actually El Salvador. But eventually I just gave her partial credit for at least naming the nation’s capital city.
As annoying as my friend’s misstatement was, it’s important to note that she was a teenage girl living in the pre-internet era.
What excuse do we have for paid journalists in 2019 who think El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — three Central American countries — are more or less Mexico? Of course, I’m talking about Fox News’ infamous chyron screw-up that recently blared, “Trump cuts aid to 3 Mexican countries.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) March 31, 2019
As many people have pointed out, the perplexing statement illuminates a right-wing mindset that is more than just simplistic and laughably ignorant. It is also highly disrespectful, in that this thinking homogenizes all of Latino culture under the term “Mexican.”
Oh yeah, it’s also a bigoted ploy to dismiss all Hispanics as “a race of ‘others’ who can easily be scapegoated for a whole slew of structural problems.” So I’m pretty sure that counts as racist bullshit as well.
You see, once you’ve decided that all Latinos are Mexican, it’s just an illogical, prejudicial jump or two to deduce that all Mexicans are undocumented immigrants, and that all undocumented immigrants are drug-dealing rapists and murderers.
This is all very A=B=C.
We’re talking about people who believe that cutting off aid to those aforementioned “Mexican” countries will reduce immigration, when in reality, it would have the opposite effect.
We’re talking about supporters of a president who believes shutting the border is a viable strategy, when all it will do is bludgeon the American economy.
We’re talking about people who desperately, obsessively want a massive new infrastructure project (i.e., a wall built on the Mexican border — or three walls for the three separate Mexicos). But they don’t care that our existing infrastructure is collapsing, and that our country’s bridges are falling down.
We’re talking about people who are genuinely confused about why Latinos don’t vote Republican in overwhelming numbers, even as the GOP routinely demeans and threatens Latinos (or just dismisses all Hispanics as “Mexican” as Fox News did).
In short, we’re talking about people who are either not too bright or who engage in willful delusion. So maybe they can’t help but say bizarre, insulting things and then stumble around half-ass apologies.
Perhaps they deserve our sympathy.
Of course, there is one more explanation. Our country’s educational system pales in comparison to that of just about every other industrialized nation. So maybe people who work at Fox News just didn’t learn basic geography.
Along those lines, just in case you thought our nation’s ignorance is confined solely to Latin America, let me tell you about a recent conversation I had.
I was talking to a fellow American, and I mentioned that I had once lived in Minneapolis. She furrowed her brow and asked, “Is that anywhere near Minnesota?”
And I had no idea how to answer that. But I should have told her that it was in Mexico.
Featured image: A golden eagle devouring a rattlesnake, featured on the Mexican coat of arms (Esparta Palma/Flickr)