Those Dirty Mexicans–Oh, Really

When my wife and I announced that we were moving to Mexico, one of my wife’s relatives asked us,

„Why do you want to live with those dirty Mexicans?”

Besides wanting to slap some sense into this person, I was particularly sickened (as in wanting to projectile vomit Linda Blair-style) by this hideous and most heinous stereotype. I have wanted to know since then where this originated.

I think, after doing what writers dotoo much research, I have finally found it.

Apparently, historians, those guys we all love to read, have been recording these views for years. David J. Webber wrote extensively on the origins of anti-Mexican stereotypes. (Thank you very much, David. It took only two years to find you!). Webber has carefully written on the views that are responsible for today’s prevalent stereotypes of the Mexican people. He wrote,

„Mexicans were considered, he wrote, „bigoted, greedy, tyrannical, fanatical, treacherous, and lazy”. These characterizations of the inhabitants of Mexico congealed especially during the decades following Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821″ [1]

Many have written about the American-Mexican relations of that period. These writings, when taken as a whole, form a tidy little picture of how an American ideology portraying Mexicans as inferior evolved, thus justifying the American government’s action against Mexico. Remember the Alamo?

Another one of those tantalizingly interesting historians, Cecil Robinson, wrote,

„Pioneer America could find little to approve of in the Mexican society it collided with, being affronted in all its major convictions by Mexican attitudes, real and alleged. Americans, in their Protestant individualism, in their ideas of spirit and hard work, in their faith in progress through technology, in their insistence upon personal hygiene, in Puritanism and racial pride, found Mexico much to their distaste because of its priestly power, its social stratification with a pronounced sense of caste, its apparent devotion to pleasure and its indifference to cleanliness, and its reputation for pervasive sensuality … Adding to all this was the Anglo-Saxon’s contempt for a people who had lowered themselves to a state of general cohabitation with the Indians and had thus forfeited the right to be considered „white.” (Robinson, 1977)” [2]

Now isn’t that interesting?

My point of bringing all this up is because of a Reuters’ news item, Bed bugs threaten to put bite on U.S. Hotel Industry. Writer, Paul Simao, reports of a lawsuit brought against the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel in New York in which a couple was severely bitten by bedbugs. Can you imagine that? The case was settled out of court. (For the record, the Helmsley folks have rectified the admitted problem.)

Bedbugs tend to occur in environments that are in disarray, untidy, messy…(dirty?). In addition, their bites are not as harmless as one might think.

„Bedbugs may be a vector for hepatitis B and, in endemic areas, for American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease).” [3]

So the cleaner your sleeping environment is the less chance you are going to have those nasty critters crawling all over you at night biting the snot out of you.

The rich irony of this is that a MEXICAN businessman filed the lawsuit brought against the Helmsley people for their dirty bedbug-breeding hotel rooms.

Don’t you love it!

[1] EXPERT REPORT OF ALBERT M. CAMARILLO; http://www.umich.edu/~urel/admissions/legal/expert/camarill.html

[2] Ibid

[3] http://www.emedicine.com/derm/topic600.htm

Doug Bower is a freelance writer and book author. His most recent writing credits include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Houston Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Transitions Abroad. He lives with his wife in Guanajuato, Mexico. His new book Mexican Living: Blogging it from a Third World Country can be seen at http://www.lulu.com/content/126241

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