Last week, he came to Alpine and I met him for lunch. Before we even established our health and all that polite stuff, he said, “Beth, I want to ask you something.”
He sounded so serious it scared me, and I’ve not written anything about him in ages, so it couldn’t be that. What he wanted to ask me completely broke my heart.
“If a Republican becomes President, do you think I’ll have to go back to Mexico?”
His question stunned me. I couldn’t get one word to come out of my mouth. My heart had become wedged in my throat.
He mistook my silence. “You don’t know if I’ll have to go or not, do you?” He glanced around as he spoke, as if armed enforcers were already advancing.
My god, people! This man has lived and worked in peace and hope, and within the law, in the USA for forty-five years. Yet he feels the climate of hate all the way down in out-of-the-way, edge-of-the-country, Terlingua, Texas. Think about that for a minute.
“No,” I finally managed to say. “Why do you think you’d have to go back?” Of course, I knew the answer to my question. I was just stalling for time, trying to think of some way to take the horrible sting out of my country being shamed by a front-stage, hateful sham of a man who is not even worthy of polishing my cowboy’s boots.
And I knew that going back to Mexico wasn’t what upset him. What had upset him was being lumped in with an entire group of people who are now being called rapists and murderers. “All Mexicans are rapists and killers.” That is just as stupid and ridiculous as saying, “All white people are educated and think for themselves.” Ha! We all know how untrue that is.
How about this unbelievably stupid statement? “The Mexican government is smarter, much smarter, and more cunning. And they send the bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them. They don’t want to take care of them.” This is a direct quote. There are so many things wrong with this statement I don’t know where to begin.
I’ve only loved one adult immigrant male, so I can only speak to what I know. Cowboy is not a rapist or killer. He doesn’t even cheat on his income taxes. He is so morally straight-arrow that in all the years I’ve known him, I never admitted to him that I tried all kind of drugs in the 60s. He lectured our kids until I thought they’d go out and become narco-trafficantes just for spite. Of course, they didn’t. They heard the angst and passion in his voice when he spoke of the harm done to Mexico by drug cartels.
No country sends their citizens to the United States. The overwhelming reason people come to this country is for freedom, for a chance to improve their lives and their children’s lives, for work. Work is the reason my cowboy came here, and it was the reason my grandfather came from Austria ever-so-long-ago. He did not come to rape and plunder. He wanted to work. He died in an explosion because unsafe factory work was what was available to immigrants at that time. Fortunately for me, he left behind a tiny son who would grow up to be my father. My grandfather was considered a lowlife, and he was WHITE. So imagine how people of color feel.
Okay. Rant over. I’ll get down off the table now.
As I studied my ex-husband’s face, a face I adore, I thought, please, please let love win. Love is the only thing that can. If love doesn’t win then we all lose; every one of us, no matter our color.