Why I Don't Speak Spanish

The other day a friend asked me to translate something to Spanish for him. I told him I couldn't because I didn't speak Spanish. That seemed inconceivable to him. "But you're Mexican," he said. "Your parents came here from Mexico. How can you not speak Spanish?" Yes, my parents came here from Mexico. But the reason they came here was to be Americans and they believed that if they were allowed to become Americans and reap the benefits of being Americans, it was their responsibility to be Americans, not Mexicans living in America. And since the language of Americans is English, they refused to speak Spanish to me and my siblings. Consequently, I don't speak Spanish. And as I told my friend, I'm not Mexican, I'm an American of Mexican descent just like he is an American of German descent. And as such, I don't speak Spanish just like he doesn't speak German. 

I've often thought that the most important thing I learned from my parents was personal responsibility. They taught me that it was my responsibility to adapt to this country; not for this country to adapt to me. They believed it was my responsibility to abide by the laws of this country; not for the country to ignore the laws that I don't like. They believed that it was my responsibility to achieve success; not for the country to provide it to me. As they liked to say, if you want to live like a Mexican, live in Mexico. If you want to live like a German, live in Germany. If you want to live like an Italian, live in Italy. And if you want to live in America, accept the American laws and mores and live like an American. 

My parents had an immense dislike for the people who come to this country illegally, especially those from Mexico. They were breaking the law. They were rudely “cutting in line” in front of the people who were going through the process to legally become American citizens. Instead of being Americans, they were Mexicans living in America and they were giving Americans of Mexican descent a bad name. 

Today we hear an awfully lot about immigration, especially how bad it is to deport people who came here illegally. It's just more spin, innuendo, half-truths and lies coming from people who have a personal, political, and/or financial stake. Sometimes it hard to ferret out what that reason is, but it's always there. For example, the other day I read that 97 Silicon Valley firms, including Apple, Google and Facebook, filed a “friend of the court” brief in opposition to President Trump's travel ban. The article made it sound like those companies were bathed in compassion. The fact is, according to a Silicon Valley think tank, over 37% of the tech jobs in Silicon Valley are filled by people from other countries. Americans in those jobs earn well into the six figures. People from countries like India, for example, will take the job for fifty thousand dollars and think they've died and gone to heaven. By the time they come anywhere near their earning potential, their H1B visa expires, they go home, and the company uses the freed up H1B visa to hire someone else. Believe me, I know. Prior to retiring I was a VP with one of those software companies and saw it done on almost a daily basis. 

On the other hand, I don't know a single immigrant who came to this country legally (and has no stake in keeping an illegal here) who believes that the people who came here illegally shouldn't be deported. Granted, I don't know them all, but the ones I do know feel just like my parents felt.

If my parents were alive today they would be thoroughly disgusted by all the nonsense being said about immigrants. They would tell you that saying this country was built by immigrants is half true at best. The truth is that it was built by people of various heritage who came here legally to be Americans. And they would demand that you stop lumping them in with people who came here illegally. They were not Mexicans living in America. They were Americans of Mexican descent and they were extremely proud of that.

Corbin Luna

Corbin Luna is an old grouch who has been retired for twenty years and with every one of those years has become more disgusted with all the spin, innuendo, half-truths and lies that comes from politicians, political pundits and political wannabes.

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Volume 9, Issue 4, Posted 10:18 PM, 04.02.2017