Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Magic Words

Nearly three years ago at this blog, I recounted this incident at a Mexican food restaurant in Tempe, Arizona:
On Sunday I was eating breakfast with one of my closest amigas at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Tempe. As we were chatting, a raised voice gonged its way through the room from the front register area. It was an older Anglo gentleman with a camouflaged baseball hat adorned upon his salt and peppered hairy head.

He was berating the woman at the register because he claimed she was overcharging him for four pints of frijoles. Berate is one word for it, the other would be humiliate and denigrate. He cussed her out as if she had just spit on the grave of his mother.

The woman was visibly shaking, but in as forceful a tone as she could muster, told him that he needed to not be disrespectful to her nor the rest of the customers. He continued on his tirade, and at that point the entire dining room had stopped their conversations and tuned into the show.

My blood was at a rolling boil at that point. I wanted to intervene but the line hadn't been crossed yet - she was handling it fine on her own.


First, he demeaned the way she spoke English. It was flawless, but apparently her accent was too much for him to handle. Second, he uttered the words that got me out of my booth and in his face, "Go back to where you came from!"

As I walked up and stared him down, he was standing at the exit and continued to yell offensive mierda. I told him that if he didn't leave, I would be the one to call the cops. After telling me to go Cheney myself and that I wouldn't dare do any of that, he ended his temper tantrum and left.
Those magic words: "Go back to where you came from!" are a perfect example of the garbage that is still prevalent in this so-called post-racial society. I've had that incantation of hate called down upon my head a few times over the years and can only respond with a hearty laugh as I recall the many times I've visited my great-great-great-great grandmother's grave that is within a ten minute drive of my parents' casa aquĆ­ en Arizona.

Even if I was from a family with a recent immigration story, the phrase says more about the person who sharted it out than the target. It reeks of ignorance, bigotry, and desperation as the world changes despite the failed efforts of teabagger thuggery. Not only failed, but unoriginal:

Looks like black and gay lawmakers aren’t the only ones being pelted with vicious slurs by folks who oppose the health reform proposal. Add a Hispanic lawmaker to the list. Trifecta!

Rep Ciro Rodriguez of Texas has confided to colleages that he was hammered by ethnic slurs by people opposed to reform passing, one of those colleagues tells me.


Rodriguez’s spokesperson, Rebeca Chapa, gets in touch to say that he was slammed as a “wetback” by an anti-reform protestor at a town meeting this week.

And another opponent called Rodriguez’ home and told the family member who answered to “go back to Mexico.”


How does that Gandhi quote go? Ah yes:

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."

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