Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Town Of Desperadoes (Part Two)

I find it interesting, and more than a little amusing, that whenever I refer to El Paso's Mayor John Cook as El Paso's first honorary gay mayor, I get a ton of mail that usually begins, "I'm not gay, but..." and then they go on to say how offended they are that I would insult the mayor with such a derogatory reference. (Interestingly enough, I don't receive the same kind of response from the gay community. They're too busy with other concerns... like being gay. [I've always thought that it would be nice to be bi-sexual. That way I'd have twice the chance of finding a date for Saturday night. But I digress...])
     Obviously, the people who write me are unaware of the vote that went on at one of the local Downtown gay bars, but, more than that, if you're offended by the term "honorary gay mayor," then you must find the term "gay" pejorative, and the act of being gay offensive.
     I think these responses are an interesting window into the content of these people's character and gives us a glimpse into what's really in their hearts, because if I refer to someone as a good athlete, I don't get grief from people offended that I'm insulting that person's intellect.
     I remember one time at work, a customer came in asking for a co-worker of mine who happens to be black (I don't say African-American, because the actress Charlize Theron is an African-American, and she's whiter than Michael Jackson.). My co-worker happens to do a particular job, so when the customer asked for him I knew exactly who he was asking for.
     "Is the other guy here?"
     "What other guy?"
     "The other guy who works here."
     "There's a lot of guys who work here."
     "He's about this tall," he said, lifting his hand to just a few inches shy of my height."
     "That doesn't narrow it down."
     "I don't remember his name."
     "That doesn't help."
     "He's always wearing jeans."
     "That describes most of us."
     "Um... ah..."
     It went on like this for a few minutes. He went on using every adjective to describe my friend except the most obvious one: he was black. Like I said, I knew who he was asking for, but I refused to let him off the hook because it was more fun to watch him squirm and do his verbal acrobatics.
     When did it become an insult to state the obvious? I, myself, am a Hispanic who enjoys eating tacos, rice, and beans, so if a white man was to say that Hispanics like Mexican food, why would I be offended by that? As far as my life experience has been, that's exactly true, although I would put it this way: Hispanics like good food, and Mexican food is good food.
     There are no stereotypes of Jewish or Asian men dominating the NBA, because that would be laughable. Is it better to lie, and be politically correct, or to tell the truth? The truth may be uncomfortable, but it's still the truth. For example...
     Who are the main people complaining about the name of the Cleveland Indians? White people! Native-Americans are too busy being screwed by the United States government, than to worry about what a baseball team's mascot is.
     I remember a road trip I took to the Navajo nation (a story you'll eventually find at my other blog, Raising My Father--My life after my 94 year-old father moves in with me). Two things in particular stick out in my mind. One is the little old Indian lady I saw selling jewelry by the side of the road. I stopped, looked at what she had. It was nothing I wanted, but it was pretty cheap. I tried to talk with her, but she wasn't the talkative type, so I left without buying anything. I stopped at a hole-in-the-wall to grab a bite to eat, and as I sat there ordering a piece of pie for dessert, I thought about that old lady. My well-fed conscience was bugging me. I should have bought something. A few bucks from my wallet would mean more to her than it would to me. When I finished, I went back to where that old lady was, but she had already packed up and left. It taught me something: If you have an opportunity to do a good deed, do it. Good intentions are nice, but they don't feed an empty belly.
     The second thing that stands out in my memory is my talking with a young Indian man who was also selling knick-knacks by the road. He was in his twenties, and was more talkative than the old lady, although that's not saying much.
     "Do you mind being called an Indian?" I asked. I was always curious about that.
     "Buy something, and you can call me whatever you want," he answered, bluntly. He may have had the time, but he didn't have the desire to put up with any crap from me.
     I didn't let opportunity pass me by a second time, so I bought something, and he tolerated me standing there talking with him for a little longer. I found out that Indians were the ward of the United States government, and they're not able to own the land they live on. If, for whatever reason, the government wants them to move, they move. They have no say in the matter. Wal-Mart tried to open a store there once, but was unable to negotiate any kind of long-term lease that would have made such an investment financially worthwhile. That's why you only see rinky-dink stores on an Indian reservation, and not much else. Who's going to invest when the government can take it all away from you at any time?
     "That's funny," I told him, "because I was always under the impression that the government was very generous with you."
     "If the government was so generous with us, do you think I'd be out here selling these knick-knacks?"
     Point well-taken, my friend.
     And, speaking of points, let me get back to my original one:
     "El Paso's first gay mayor." If you find that phrase offensive, I recommend that you look into your own heart, my friend, but be careful...
     You might find your true self there.

American Chimpanzee

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