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

terça-feira, junho 04, 2002

Some more commentary for my Pacific News Service story on why immigrants won't cheer for the American squad in the World Cup...

You forgot to mention the "other immigrants" the ones from Europe, Asia, etc. you are too young to see the real influence of immigrants, the Irish, the Germans, the French, the Italians, just to mention a few, regardless of how long they have been in the US, or if their parents or grandparents are the ones that immigrated to the US, THEY ALL CHEER for their old country teams. is not just the Latin American countries, but you failed to mention them in your article. You should re-write your article again. Just go to any Italian, Irish, French, German, bar-restaurant to see how they cheer their countries of origin teams, even the English you will see them cheering for England.

My response...

Thank you for your remarks. I must respectfully disagree with your overgeneralization that all descendants of immigrants cheer for the mother country. Although I agree with you that the national team of another country will have their share of non-immigrant fans here in the US, it is a tenuous following at best. Rooting for the soccer team of the old country becomes an expression of a person’s symbolic ethnicity that quickly dissipates when said country faces the American squad. My article chose to concentrate on the immigrants themselves, which (as you correctly observed) come from all over the world. The reason I chose to concentrate on Latin American, South Korean, and Iranian immigrants is because of the large communities that live here in Los Angeles (each of the immigrants’ communities I mentioned are the largest outside of their home countries) and their recent problems and/or encounters with the United States, which makes the sociopolitical aspect of my article more salient. Thank you once again for your remarks.
An analogy of your article is my own support for the Cincinnati Reds in baseball. I grew up there and have now lived on the west coast for many years, but when the Reds play the Giants there isn't any question of which team I root for. Old loyalties die hard too.

My response...

Thank you for your response. Amazingly enough, you are the only person to have mentioned your obvious-but-true analogy, a point that many have ignored in their shock at realizing that people living in this country might not be rooting for the United States. Though soccer is a sport laced with political and cultural implications, we must keep in mind that it is also a sport, and all of us sports fans are a little irrational for our teams (I myself am a Cubs fan, so I don't have to mention my own misguided loyalties!) Thank you once again for your response.
I'm a conservative, so your quotes from Lalas and Buchanan got my attention, and a nod of some agreement.

Then I read further, in fact finished the whole article.

And I must say you made me acquire some empathy that, for me, came from having been the underdog at times in competitive sports. Rooting against a team didn't mean I was rooting against the school they represented; so, I guess, rooting against a team doesn't mean rooting against a country. It just makes you feel good when some hot air is taken out of a big pompous balloon.

My response...

Thank you for your comments. It is true, as you noted; nobody likes a juggernaut, but that doesn't mean they hate the juggernaut. For example, many sports fans were relieved to see the Yankees lose the World Series but that didn't mean that they hated New York City; they just didn't like the Yankees' overwhelming success. Similarly, most immigrants are eternally grateful that they can live and work in the United States, even if it doesn't seem like it when they're booing the American squad. Since their home countries cannot possibly match up with the United States, they'll boo one of the few weak spots of this country. But only that, and especially because it is a sport. Thank you once again for your comments.
Send in the dissidents...

It was valiant of you to try to explain the apparent ingratitude of recent, primarily Latin (?) immigrants, toward their chosen country of residence. Perhaps, in turn, it will help you to understand the feelings of many native Americans (I prefer that term to non-immigrant, I was born here).

Your piece speaks volumes, but however you parse it, the difference in attitude comes down to this: most native Americans hold this country in their esteem and affection, your constituency apparently only appreciates the opportunities our country provides them.

Immigrants in the past have indeed made this country better, whether recent arrivals will continue to do so will depend on whether of not they can make the shift from appreciation to affection as many previous immigrants have done. The Soccer team might be a good place to start.

Unlike Mr. Buchanan, I am not concerned about America's future. "Latin American" countries persist in their backwardness; but as they begin to pull themselves out of the 19th century and develop opportunities for their natives to appreciate at home-- a more positive and equitable relationship will evolve.

Yes, I am aware that there are many Latin American immigrants who love this country dearly, but that was not your point, was it?

My response...

The point of my article was to mention that many immigrants (not just those from Latin America) will use soccer as a vehicle to express anxiety about the United States. There is nothing wrong with this in and of itself. If you study American immigrant history, you will realize that some distrust of the United States is a common theme of all immigrant groups. Compared to the manifestations of anti-American sentiments from other immigrant groups in the past, a soccer match is a harmless outlet. That said, it is integral to realize in understanding my article that I only address the viewpoint of immigrants, not the children of immigrants (such as myself) or their descendants.The problem arises if the immigrants do not make the next step (as you noted). But as immigrants stay here longer and their children assimilate, this distrust shifts into (as you noted) appreciation, then finally affection. Thank you for your comments.
This one's fun...

I have read your article in today's Chronicle on why immigrants don't cheer for the US soccer team and I must say while I understand your point, it inadvertently points out why many WASP Americans like myself are leery of foreigners who come here.

In previous years immigrants when to great lengths to leave the culture of the old country behind. They wanted to become Americans, and assimilate into American life. They dressed like Americans, learned the language and in some cases even changed their names to sound more American. They worked hard to build a better life here that wasn't possible where they came from. They bought homes, paid their taxes and sent their sons to fight and die to defend America in war. I seriously doubt they would have cheered for the old country's soccer team.

Today's immigrants despise America and come here simply because they see a chance to make a buck. They make a half hearted attempt to learn fluent English (especially South american types) burden our social welfare programs (public schools, health care, etc) and contribute the bare minimum in terms of taxes and contributions to society. Why can't they stay in the old country and create economic prosperity there? Simple! Too lazy. Easier to come here and sponge off the gringos. They
speak Spanish at home, stare sullenly at Americans who pass them by and have ruined most of Los Angeles. (I used to attend company seminars in the late 70's on 7th Street, we would walk to Wilshire Blvd for lunch. It was a beautiful place, but not now. Illegal immigrants, drugs, violence -a real shame).

So please, let's call a spade a spade. America is full and needs to post a "No Vacancy" sign in the window. These people who want to come here should stay home and work to build their country of origin into something to be proud of like we did here in America. I am sick and tired of people running down this wonderful nation and I for one will no longer tolerate. As the line went from the movie, "I'm mad a hell and I'm not going to take it anymore". And neither are many of my Countrymen.

Concerned American

My response...

Your analysis of immigration history would make me laugh if it wasn’t so blatantly ethnocentric and ignorant. Are you to tell me that the immigrants of yesterday magically cut off all ties to their home countries, changed their name from Rickenbaucher to Richards, and became happy Americans? Perhaps you haven’t read the countless memoirs of immigrants of yesteryear retelling in agonizing detail their struggles in adapting to this country and the shame they felt when encountering people like you who demanded immediate assimilation, no questions asked or empathy given.

And I love how you twist my article into a diatribe against Latin American immigrants. If you read my article (which you said you understood, but obviously did not read close enough), I mentioned ALL immigrants. Talk to an Irish immigrant and see where their loyalties stand in this Cup. Or a Vietnamese or Mexican immigrant, for that matter. I hate to break it to you, but their rooting against the United States will only be in soccer, since the immigrants of today are no different from those in the past in acclimating to this country. And as the child of recent immigrants myself, I am disgusted with your assertion that people like my parents are somehow ungrateful leeches of the state. They’ve done more to better this nation than your empty-headed bigotry masquerading as “concern” ever will.
One more...

Your own words inadvertently describe why many Americans find the attitudes you explain to be so objectionable. "At its essence, rooting against the American soccer team symbolizes resistance to being absorbed into a country whose populace and government do not always do the right thing-especially against the immigrants and their home countries." If immigrants don't want to be "absorbed" into this imperfect country, perhaps they ought not to come here to benefit from the opportunities it offers. Your further comment that they then "return to bettering the nation" is a nice try at spin, but you could have more accurately phrased it as "return to taking advantage of the opportunities that exist here without making a commitment to fully join the society and culture that makes those opportunities possible."

My response...

“Absorbed” in the context of my article means “blindly accepting American international dogma.” And “return to bettering the nation” means “going back to be ruthlessly exploited to allow citizens to enjoy the best living conditions on the planet yet still contributing because they want to be part of the grand American fabric.”
Just got another one...

-"with memories of the U.S. -backed Shah's brutal regime still fresh in their minds -"

The Iranian expatriate community living in the US is made up of Jews fleeing persecution and former military and government officials in the Shah's government. These people supported the Shah. Why do you think they are here?

I guess in your ethnic studies classes this kind of crap passes for scholarship. Before you pen your next anti-American piece why don't you do a little bit more research.

My response...

"...many in the Iranian expatriate community..."

Don't take my comments out of context. Granted, some Iranians are supporters of the Shah. But not all. That's why I said "many", not "all." This isn't ethnic studies pedagogy; it's called Logic and Critical Thinking 101.
OK. That's enough for now. Must start working on other articles to get people angry.