U.S. Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano. Courtesy: examiner.com
Dear Mr. Navarrette,
We are writing to you in regards to your recent piece criticizing American Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano for waving his native Mexican flag alongside the U.S. flag following his performance in the men’s 1500-meter finals.
Like many people, we were struck by not only its divisiveness–its desire to undermine the life and successes of Manzano to make a political point–but your dismissive tone to anyone who doesn’t agree with you. We were also struck by your efforts to pathologize those who don’t agree with you, to seemingly mock and ridicule those who see the world differently than you (“Most Mexican-Americans I know would need a whole team of therapists to sort out their views on culture, national identity, ethnic pride and their relationship with Mother Mexico”). We were also struck by the simplicity of your discussion of history, immigration, and sports, which you seem to think is outside the realm of politics.
Ruben, you write, “This country took you in during your hour of need. Now in your moment of glory, which country deserves your respect–the one that offered nothing to your parents and forced them to leave or the one that took you all in and gave you the opportunity to live out your dreams?”
Waiter, can we have a side of facts with this hyperbole and cliché?
Yes, Manzano arrived in the United States at the age of 4. In 1987, his father, Jesús, who was working in the United States without authorization, secured permanent residency. Soon thereafter, he would gain his green card, ultimately sending for his family.
Leo was born in central Mexico, a place “where education ceased by fourth grade, running water did not exist and electricity was practically unheard of.” While certainly a life of poverty, to say that his country offered him “nothing” is one of tremendous disrespect. Worse yet, you erase history; you erase the ways that the United States and globalization has impacted Mexico. In recent times the United States through its neo-liberal policies such as the Bracero Program (1942-1964), Border Industrialization Program, a.k.a “maquiladoras” (1964-1996) and finally the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have slowly destroyed the traditional if not Jeffersonian agrarian society that provided self-sufficiency and subsistence.