In 2007, when Joe Biden was trying to win the Democratic nomination for President, he was asked about immigration and the question of Mexico.
This is what he said.
In short, Mexico has its problems and its “dirt poor villages.” And it is because of Mexico’s problems that Mexicans want to “jump over a wall or under a wall” to get into the United States. There is lack of health care, education, jobs, but Mexico still is a “land of plenty.” Mexico has an obligation to its own people, but because it has failed in that obligation, Mexico now becomes a problem of the United States.
Memo to Biden: the “problem” has been around for almost 200 years, and you would think that Biden needs a history lesson or two about US-Mexico relations. For example, take the case of Ulysses Grant, Civil War hero and US President, who saw the writing on the wall when he fought in the Mexican American War of the late 1840s. As a Grant website concludes:
During the Mexican-American War and his service in it, Grant started to formulate his own beliefs and judgments about warfare. He judged the actions of high officers (though not out loud at the time, obviously) and decided that this war was immoral. He disagreed with actions taken by superiors, and believed the entire premise of the war to be a front for acquiring more land that was unopposed to slavery. In his best-selling memoirs written at the end of his life, Grant reflected on his experience in the war, saying, “I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day, regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.” He also stated, “I do not think there was ever a more wicked war…I thought so at the time…only I had not moral courage enough to resign.”
It may seem odd to us that a great general like Grant would be opposed to wars as “immoral” or “unjust.” To him, however, he saw nothing in the Mexican-American war except a big bully provoking a puny child to respond, and beating him to a pulp (and taking his lunch money) when he did inevitably retaliate. His experience in this war helped him formulate his ideas, ethics, and beliefs that would characterize his command of the U.S. Civil War.
In the end, this whole patronizing view of American politicians towards Mexico needs to stop. It has gone on for way too long, all because the US won a war in 1848. No matter what side of the aisle you are on, US Latino voters need to continue to educate and speak out against what in essence is a paternalistic attitude from a different era that is fading away more and more.
How about we start by accepting the reality that part of “Mexican problem” actually comes from the United States? Case in point, the drug trade. Just so you know, when Vice President Biden visited Mexico and met with Mexican President Felipe Calderón earlier this year, the Vice President said the the decriminalization of drugs—a topic that is beginning to get serious traction in Latin America—is not a viable option for the US. It is off the table. Move along.
It is clear to us that in the end, no matter who is in office, the perceptions of the patronizing Yanqui politician continue. Even Biden’s opponent, Paul Ryan, is having issues with the whole immigration, “catch and release” and “anchor baby” rhetoric.
So, there is still a lot of work to be done. Will this change? Very likely not, since in an election year, it is all about the Hispanderfiesta.
But we will still ask: When will Americans stop looking at Mexico as a “failed country” and start looking at it as a country whose history is intertwined with American history? They say that the best neighbors are the ones that actually respect and understand each other. In the case of the US and Mexico, we still have a long way to go.
(H/T to Ruben Naverrette, Jr. on this one. Yesterday, Naverrette posted on his public Facebook profile a sneak peek of his syndicated column for Sunday. It will be about what Biden said in 2007. So to Ruben we say, “Thanks for posting it,” and even though your column on Leo Manzano was a big time fail for us, this Biden topic is worthy of discussion. Here’s hoping your column doesn’t turn the debate into typical pre-programmed left vs. right thinking, but more about how US Latino voters need to continue to educate the rest of the US about the real issues between the US and Mexico. That goes beyond politics because in the end. It is all about the right thing to do.)