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

quarta-feira, janeiro 08, 2003

All in good fun. Here is some rambling letter Nativo Lopez sent me accusing me of conspiring to destroy the immigrant-rights activist...

I read with extreme disgust the piece Gustavo Arellano’s "El Dia de Nuestro Señor Nativo" (Dec. 20). I found it offensive and distasteful but quite typical of the articles written by Arellano that have anything to do with me. For whatever reason, Arellano has repeatedly targeted me over the past year with critical pieces, ideological attacks, political irreverence and downright cynicism.

I’m as much for political irreverence as the next guy, but I inevitably look for the ideological underpinnings of such irreverence. Ultimately, all irreverence can be found to lean in one political direction or another. "Whose ox is gored?" is ultimately the question most readers with any political savvy seek to answer even if only intuitively. I am convinced that these are the readers of the OC Weekly.

Arellano’s articles strike out not against those who sit in powerful economic or political positions, but against those who sit on the opposite side of that power. For example, Arellano has never raised his voice against those who have used their power to deny a driver’s license to the estimated 2 million immigrants in California presently driving without such a document, but he unfairly targeted those who criticize such a backward public policy. Governor Gray Davis escaped unscathed from Arellano’s venomous pen in that article.

He previously lashed out at big capital that agrees to a union contract for its workers in favor of little capital that opposes a union contract for its underpaid immigrant workers in his article on the Gigante Supermarket in the city of Anaheim and the broad alliance that forced the Anaheim City Council to concede a commercial permit to the Mexican-owned supermarket chain.

In the most recent article, he refrained from raising his pen against the powerful English-Only lobby represented by multimillionaire Ron Unz, author of Proposition 227, the English-Only ballot initiative approved in California in 1998. Unz seeks to unseat the four Latino school board members of the Santa Ana Unified School District. This is a district with 62,000 students, 92 percent Latino enrollment, and the fifth-largest school district in California. Not a word from Arellano about the wealthy few property owners in the north of 17th Street section of Santa Ana who vehemently oppose the building of a new elementary school in their neighborhood or their campaign to recall me from the school board for supporting this school-construction project. Arellano offers up only mockery, political disrespect, irreverence and distasteful cynicism toward those who confront the extreme right wing of the Orange County Republican Party in the current recall campaign in Santa Ana.

Cynicism is the pernicious ingredient that produces political apathy, the malaise that suits the political and social status quo adored by the power elite. Not even when dressed up by the pancake makeup of seeming political irreverence can cynicism be disguised for anything other than what it is. Herein lies the reactionary character of cynicism. It provides great comfort and support to those who have economic and political power and who use it to perpetuate the powerlessness of their victims.

On the balance sheet of the current political scene and power arrangements, it is not very hard to discern where Arellano directs his ire. He omits any critique of the existing power elite and their convenient economic interests, as such relates to the Latino communities of Orange County, and targets those who seek to change these power arrangements in the interest of the powerless. He seeks to pass it off as irreverence, void of any substantive critique, but he is only successful in displaying a disdainful cynicism and, thus, more fodder for the political apathy that mires our community in its own powerlessness. Thank you, Gustavo.

Nativo Vigil Lopez

Santa Ana

Here is my response, which was also published...

Gustavo Arellano responds: The fact that you’ve devoted much of your life to fighting for immigrants and against right-wingers does not exempt you from criticism. Every one of my "irreverent" articles concerning you was inspired by your occasional—and perhaps merely human—boneheadedness. Sponsor radio ads calling Gray Davis a "fucking little white man"? Characterize the arrival in Anaheim of Gigante—a Mexico-based multinational conglomerate—as progressive? (Also see this article. Use the Virgen de Guadalupe in a manner more self-serving than Bob Dornan could ever imagine? That’s all you, chulo, not me.

You describe my cynicism as "pernicious." Maybe so. But more pernicious is your expectation of complete fealty from me because I’m Latino and progressive.

Finally, it takes a studied ignorance to claim my articles "omit any critique of the existing power elite" and "target those who seek to change these power arrangements." Because of your passion, intelligence and ambition—and your willingness to play the race card—you are part of the power elite.

Nativo conveniently forgets how I defended him from those harrassing idiots over at La Voz de Aztlan. He must have also not seen my Pacific News Service article speaking in favor of drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. I guess he doesn't read La Opinion, which translated my article in order to publish it.

Ultimately, what happens is that I dare criticize Nativo. And for that reason he is mad and therefore denigrates me as somehow defending the power elite. If that were true, I would never criticize Nativo.

NS was nice enough to bring me some documents from the Registrar of Voters. The only bad that came out of that, however, was that I wasn't able to partake of the great Bolivian food at Beba's. Oh well; next time some idiot politician confirms their ineptitude, I'll have some chicha.