A Week in the Life of Gustavo

"Seems to think that if he fails to write, la migra will find him."--OC Weekly More merriment available at ronmaydon@yahoo.com

sexta-feira, maio 31, 2002

If only all correspondances between myself and article-readers were like this. This is the conclusion to the guy who was trying to justify the Shah. WARNING: this one is long

As I expected, you completely missed (or ignored) the point of my
letter. Like so many of your friends on the left, you assume that those who disagree with you are ignorant, uninformed or both. Unless you're a
professional student, like those that you cite as the 'voice of the people'
in Korea, my adult years likely match all of your years, including those you spent in diapers. (FYI, I hold a Masters Degree, though it is technical rather than grievance-oriented, so if you insist on continuing to claim intellectual superiority, you'll have to base in on something other than educational achievements.)

I'm well aware of the history surrounding Mohammad Mossadegh, etc.
The Shah was a despot, but there are depots all over the world. You
yourself apparently would like to see South Korea join hands with that
second generation hall-of-fame psycho dictator, Kim Chong-il. I'm sure Mr. Kim would be happy to hold democratic elections as soon as a deal can be worked out. Also, are you really so sure that in the aftermath of the Korean War South Koreans would rather the U.S. had left?

The point is this: if the rationale you cite for many rooting
against the U.S. team were reasonable, then there should be people around the world rooting against Spain, Belgium, England, Russia, Japan, etc. Hell, we'd run out of teams to root FOR! (Who do you think Koreans have a bigger grievance with, Japan or the U.S.? Just wondering. You'll note that the countries agreed to co-host the event, so it seems some people understand the difference between sports and politics. Of course, on the left we've gone from "the personal is the political" to "everything is political.)

Had my family emigrated to this country 60 years later than it did,
I'm sure there'd be a lot of Irishmen like me in your crowd who'd still be
angry about the "Irish need not apply" signs that were so common in this country. Did you know that the first Irish in this country were hired to do jobs (e.g., loading and unloading ships) that slave owners wouldn't allow their slaves to do? Too dangerous. A dead slave was costly. A dead Irishman could be replaced for free. Rather than pass that grievance on from generation to generation, my family did what believe, and what I can only hope, most imigrants today are doing: becoming Americans.

Soccer in America is curious thing. It's lack of popularity and our
country's relative lack of achievement, tend to make many focus their
interest elsewhere around the world. For new imigrants, their interest in
soccer also allows them to maintain a connection to the 'old country'. This is all for the good. When the U.S. played Honduras last fall, I was there rooting for my team, as were tens of thousands of Hondurans some likely citizens of the U.S. That most were rooting for their 'old country' was fine. When I went to see the U.S. play Uraguay this spring, I'm guessing many of those same fans were there, and -- I saw it with my own eyes -- they were rooting for the good 'ole U. S. of A. You might like to think that the only fans of the U.S. national team are your 'White European Opressors' but it just ain't so. In fact, my co-worker was there with her family. She's from Japan, and she and her family were rooting for the U.S. Who should have a bigger grievance with the U.S. than Japan?

My response

think the first thing you must distinguish to understand my article is the
distinction between immigrants and descendants of immigrants. I never claimed that Latinos (in this sense, I speak of Americans of Hispanic descent) or other people who are descended from immigrants (such as yourself) would root against the United States; I merely argued that many of the current immigrants themselves will probably not be rooting for the American side. I am not an immigrant myself, I am Latino, and I will be rooting for the States to advance. Does this somehow disprove my article? Not at all. My article concentrated on immigrants and I never claimed otherwise.

One thing I have noticed in my young years (and yes, I am young but that doesn't somehow make you superior to me, or vice versa) is that
international soccer for Americans becomes a vehicle to celebrate their
"ethnicity." I'll assume that you'll be proud of the Irish squad and will
probably follow them more closely than, say, Slovenia, due to your Irish
heritage. But when the side of the old country meets the US, most of these people will cheer for the Americans, though probably less so that usual. This is possible simply because these people are already assimilated Americans. Most immigrants, though, are not assimilated and therefore will less likely cheer for the American side because they still have many ties to the country. As they stay longer in their country (and especially their children), their allegiance to their old country will become largely symbolic--and their soccer fanaticism.

This is not a pedagogy of "the White European Oppressor"; it's the process in becoming American. I am well aware of the Irish history in the States and am also confident that they had the same ambivalency towards the States when they came (are you aware of the San Patricio Brigade that fought against the Americans in the Mexican-American War). I am also confident that with due time, all immigrant groups that currently root against the States will cheer for the American squad.

Yes, yes, yes. I agree with each and every word you said. Thank
you so much for taking the time to discuss this with me. I have been more than a little 'provocative' (read: combative but hopefully not insulting) in my correspondence, and as a result I'm sure the force of my arguement suffered (read: I sure I wasn't as right as I thought I was). One of my favorite expressions for myself is "often wrong, but never in doubt."

Probably the main reason I wrote to you in the first place was a
similar article I read by a gentleman named Jonah Fontella. I tried to make a point similar to yours to him, to wit, just because you root for {fill in your country of origin} doesn't mean you have to root AGAINST the U.S.

I've been a fan of soccer for 34 years, and watching the U.S. play
'away' to Honduras in the nation's capital was depressing, but I had no
problem with the Hondurans/Honduran-Americans who were rooting for their home country. On the other hand, had the crowd actually been made up of Salvadorans, Mexicans, etc. rooting against the U.S. I would have been less understanding. That is what made me so happy when I saw so many Latinos rooting for the U.S. against Uraguay!

Believe me, I reasonably well informed about the history of our
country's involvement in Latin America (though I've never heard of the San Patricio Brigade -- thanks for that one, I can't wait to read about it) and elsewhere around the world. There's a lot there not to be proud of, but on the other hand, I believe our county's record stacks up pretty well with respect to other world and regional powers. We've made many mistakes and done many wrong things, but we've also held close the ideals that the country was based on. I belive that most often our misdeeds are based on ill-considered but good intentions, and I believe that we are making progress towards better judgement in these issues.

One of my favorite examples of what I see as our good intentions is
to examine the fate of our enemies in WWII. We actively championed the rise of Japan and Germany into world economic powers, and by and large the images of 'Japs' and 'Krauts' is a thing of the past in this country. There are, of course, counter examples so I can only say that I don't claim perfection for our country. Humans are imperfect, and human institutions only multiply the flaws.

Latinos (as well as many others) have suffered greatly from the
paternalistic racism that hopefully is dieing away in this country. It will
be young people like yourselves, through your achievments in life, that will kill all but the most stubborn vestages of that racism in this country, and what is left will simply serve as a reminder of the shameful face of the past.

And after all of this, MY main point is a hope that all Americans
who love soccer will rally behind our home team. It would be sad for me if something I enjoy so much were also something that divided us for reasons unrelated to the game. (From a selfish point of view, I also hope that the fields I see filled with Latinos boys will produce the 'number 10' of the future for the U.S., or the outside backs that we so deperately need!)

Of course, soccer in general, and the World Cup in particular
produces little more than a collective yawn from most Americans, and
honestly, that's a good reason for people around the world to root against 'America'. Here's to that changing soon.

BTW, how 'bout Senegal!?! They looked great up against France. Maybe there's hope for the U.S. to advance after all! And I'll be rooting for Mexico and Costa Rica on the basis of all the criticism I hear about the quality of play in CONCACAF. If two or three of the CONCACAF teams advance, maybe the criticism will let up, and there'll be less talk about taking away one of the spots and giving it Europe so that one more tiny country there can make it in.

My response to his response of my response...

I have enjoyed tremendously our continuing dialogue regarding soccer. Yes, you were provocative in your responses but not insulting, which has been a relief; most of the letters I have received have been little more than excuses to bash on immigrants and prove that they will be the downfall of this country. We both know that soccer is much more complex than that and can be a unifier in this country. And it will some day.

And yes, how about Senegal?!? I hope this shows soccer-blase America that the sport truly is global and offers something for everyone. And I was not aware that FIFA wanted to take away a slot from CONCACAF; how dare they! If anything, Senegal's victory should prove that more slots should be taken away from Europe or South America and distributed to a region with less slots such as Asia or Africa. I hope you enjoy the Cup and thank you once again for your comments.