Richard Rodriguez started off the discussion today at Cato Unbound on “Mexicans And America” . Here is a teaser of what he wrote:
Since America will not honor the poverty of the Mexican worker in theological terms, we should at least be clear that the Mexican is such a good worker because of the strength of the Mexican family. Mexicans work for each other; that is their reason for working.
On the other hand, I have heard Mexican astonishment at the kindness of strangers in America. The stranger gave me some money. The stranger gave me a ride in his truck. The stranger gave me some water. Whereas in Mexico, all such generosity takes place within the family, in America the generosity among strangers is often easier and more common than among relatives, and this amazes the Mexican.
America is a country where children are raised to leave home, and each generation is expected to seek its own way. The great pronoun of the United States is the Protestant pronoun—the “I”. America teaches its children independence and the bravery of the solitary path. The burden of life in America is loneliness. Not coincidentally, Mexican women, illegally in the United States, have been hired into the cold heart of America to sit with the young and the old.
The children of Mexican migrant workers, who are two or even three generations into this country, are faced with competing pronouns, and struggle to reconcile them. On the one hand, the Mexican American is expected to live within a family whose emotional architecture draws the child away from the window. On the other hand, America presents the child with an open door. As long as you understand this grammatical dilemma for the child struggling between the “we” and the “I”, any statistic you want—on Mexican American gangs, early marriage rates, suicide attempts, black-brown tensions, high school drop out rates, military heroism—becomes coherent.
The full article can be found here.