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Never explain, never complain

29 January 2010

Ariel Gómez León, a PRD federal deputy for Chiapas and radio talk show host made a complete ass of himself (as both politicians are radio talk show hosts are wont to do) with a racist “joke” about Haitians.  The “joke” isn’t worth repeating, but what is interesting, coming from the U.S., is the reaction.

No one in his own party is going to defend Gómez León… or try to spin a narrative that a comment was taken out of context, or that it was misunderstood, or that Gómez León “misspoke”.  No apologies are necessary, because none are going to be accepted.  Gómez León may claim he was just making a bad joke and didn’t know the microphone was on, but that doesn’t matter here. and nobody cares if he “anger management” or rehab or anything else are going to save him.  The party chair held a press conference this morning to announce party disciplinary actions, and openly mentioning expelling  Gómez León from the party.

When I hear claims that Mexicans are virulent racists, the person telling me that is usually confusing Mexican-Americans with Mexicans, many Mexican-Americans often “buying” into the racial preoccupations of the United States and into the economic system that pits “them” against “us”.

I don’t deny that Mexicans often do think of people in terms of physical stereotypes, which is a different thing than actively seeking to insult the person.  As an example, I like to point out that while Denzel Washington was touted in Mexican women’s magazines as a sex god, Colin Powell — at the time the U.S. Secretary of State — was lampooned in the leftist press as a Stepin Fetchit caracature.  Both the Rachel Smith incident and the dustup over  Meme Pingüino were milked in the United States as “proof” of Mexican racism, by the U.S. Republican Party (which has had a series of problems with “misunderstood” or “taken out of context” or “I didn’t know the microphone was on” racist incidents.  Interestingly, a domestic postage stamp in Mexico became an issue for right-wing talk shows and Republican Party concern just as a coalition of African-Americans and Latino interests was beginning to coalesce into a serious political pressure group.

The PRD has no reason to care what the U.S. government thinks, and the U.S. government hasn’t said anything about this incident, since it doesn’t play into any particular domestic agenda.  And the PRD certainly doesn’t need Haitian support.  And, there isn’t any “black constituency” in Mexico to speak of, and certainly none in Chiapas.  It’s hard to put a cynical spin on the honorable reaction of the party.

It’s disappointing that there are people in this world who still make racist “jokes”, but it is a reason to celebrate — and for Mexicans to congratulate themselves over — when racists are publicly condemned and treated as they should be — as dickheads.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 30 January 2010 6:13 pm

    Not against blacks but in Chiapas many “coletos” politicians are openly racists against the indigenous peoples.

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