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Like a cat on hot tin roof? | mexmigration: History and Politics of Mexican Immigration

I am constantly asked the question, Why do I write with so much emotion? As a historian I should be more restrained; objective while searching for the truth. When the first edition of Occupied America was published in 1972, I attended academic conferences hoping to generate discussion on the facts as I understood them and to engage in a reinterpretation of U.S. history that was at that point controlled by historians such as the late Walter Prescott Webb, who had distinct anti-Mexican biases. It was, after all, Webb who wrote:

Without disparagement, it may be said that there is a cruel streak in the Mexican nature, or so the history of Texas would lead one to believe. This cruelty may be a heritage from the Spanish of the Inquisition; it may, and doubtless should, be attributed partly to the Indian blood …. The Mexican warrior … was, on the, whole, inferior to the Comanche and wholly unequal to the Texan. The whine of the leaden slugs stirred in him an irresistible impulse to travel with rather than against the music. He won more victories over the Texans by parley than by force of arms. For making promises-and for breaking them-he had no peer.

Webb’s books were widely read and believed as truth by many; he was assumed to be objective. Webb was a professor of history at the University of Texas Austin and a president of the American Historical Association.

Admittedly, I had a chip on my shoulder. I had just gone through the ordeal of having to appear before numerous academic committees to defend the courses of a newly created Chicano Studies department.

At the academic conferences, I had at first patiently answered the questions from pompous self-serving white scholars; there weren’t many professors with tans [sic] in those days. But I finally had it when one of these academic geysers posed the following question, “Why do you write with so much emotion?”

After cooling down, I diplomatically replied, “Because I am not a whore and I don’t fuck without emotion!” That marked my last appearance for some time at a scholarly conference.

I began to examine myself and realized that I was taking, in the words of Luis Valdez’s Pachuco in Zoot Suit, “the pinche play too seriously.” This is what happens to you after being socialized through Ph.D. programs and putting that pinche “Dr.” before your name.

Today, I watch with mild amusement the reactions of my former students when they finally transcend to the state of Nirvana and receive their terminal degrees. The first thing that they do is sign their names with a Ph.D. and create a new template for their emails.

Professionalism does something to their psyche and they become more obtuse in their language. The simplicity of passion abandons them and their narratives are no longer to the point but purposely involved.

That is why I am such an admirer of George Carlin whose routine on how we avoid using the word ‘dead’ is one of the best tools of analysis that I know. Carlin says when you are dead, you did not pass away, you’re dead. He also has gems like:

Once you leave the womb, conservatives don’t care about you until you reach military age. Then you’re just what they’re looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers.

My own journey through to Nirvana was laced with the necessity of an early marriage and having to work sixty hours a week while carrying a full academic load; but it was also shaped by other life experiences. I remember listening to Edward R. Murrow take on Senator Joseph McCarthy and call him what he was – a liar, a bully and a despot.

ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: Like a cat on hot tin roof? | mexmigration: History and Politics of Mexican Immigration.

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