By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
What is it with you Mexicans who want to take back California? Is it that conquistador blood that's driving you? --Go Back to Granada
Besides beards, light skin and bad wine, the Spanish conquistadors brought with them to Mexico the legacy of reconquista, which has replaced WMDs as the número uno doomsday conspiracy espoused by conservatives. Originally, reconquista was a specific period of Spanish history (about the eighth century A.D. to 1492) in which Spain's Catholic nobles united to expel the North African Muslims (they called them Moors) from the Iberian Peninsula. Today, reconquista refers to a hypothetical master plan by Mexican officials to reconquer the southwestern United States--territories lost in the 1848 Mexican-American War. Their ostensible weapon is unlimited migration. It sure seems reconquista is a reality, what with bilingual ballots, Spanish-language radio stations topping the Arbitron ratings nationwide, salsa supplanting ketchup as the top-selling condiment in U.S. supermarkets, the Aztec prophecy that the People of the Sun would return to their northern ancestral lands--and a 2002 Zogby poll showing that 58 percent of Mexicans believed that the U.S. Southwest rightfully belonged to them.
But as a member of the invading army, the Mexican can say without a doubt that reconquista is a myth. Primeramente, the Mexican government is incapable of formulating a sound economic policy; can we really expect it to successfully take over former territories not named Guatemala? Those who insist reconquista is real also forget American history, which time and time again shows that immigrants in America plan the takeover of their mother countries, not their adopted nation. Prominent examples include José Marti (Cuba), Garibaldi (Italy) and the Irish and Jews. If there's a reconquista, it's working in reverse: Mexicans in the U.S. make their fortunes here and send money (along with toasters, big-screen televisions, monster trucks and democracy) south. As a result, Mexico is freer than ever before.
So why does a concept as loco as reconquista earn such an enthusiastic reception amongst conservatives? Simple: It's easier to point at Mexicans for the problems of illegal immigration than to critique the American economic and political structures that require cheap labor. If conservatives believe in any gospel in these days of international aggression and ballooning federal spending, it's this: When all else fails, blame the Mexicans.
Where can I find a dictionary of Mexican slang--güero, pinche, vato, etc.? Something geared for the curious gringo? Preferably online? --Güero Loco
Gracias for the plug, Crazy Light-Skinned Guy. Click here to find the brand-new Ask a Mexican! glossary, which defines the most commonly used terms in the column, including "wab," "güero" and "pinche puto pendejo baboso." In the tradition of Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary, the Mexican also provides alternative definitions for Spanish words popular amongst gabachos. Take, for instance, piñata ("A toy Mexicans hang above their heads and beat mercilessly until its goodies spill forth. Otherwise known as the United States"). The Mexican invites readers to send their own alternate definitions for common words--e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.