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Bill Santiago

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Porque Because: Jesus Loves Anchor Babies

Posted: 03/ 5/2012 7:05 am

Dear TIME Magazine:

Someone just handed me a copy of your latest issue. You know, the one with all of the Latinos on the cover. Why so many? Are you trying to make up for all those years since that Ricky Martin cover back in 1999? I still have that one, by the way. But this one is very special too. More special, kinda. The headline really got my attention: Yo Decido. Is it true that this is the first time TIME has had a Spanish sentence on the cover? Because, you know Spanish has been around a long time in this country. Actually, it was here before English. So it seems like TIME is behind the times on that. You're catching up, though, and that's admirable.

But you blew it. Here's what the title should have been: Somos Los Deciders.

What do you think? I know, brilliant. See, first of all it's Spanglish, which may one day be the official language of the United States, the way things are going. I mean you'd be surprised how many Latinos are bilingual and perfectly able to think and speak in both English and Spanish simultaneously. Actually, ni siquiera nos damos cuenta that we're doing it.

Plus, did you get the reference to Bush and how he used to call himself, 'the decider'? (I always called him El Pendejo, Jr., myself.) Anyway, my version works on a lot of different levels, makes you look cool, and is pretty hilarious. I bet you're sorry you didn't run your idea by me first. Well, next time, remember, I'm here if you need me.

Now the subtitle, I like. Very provocative. It says that Latinos are going to pick the next president. If that's true, Republicans are in trouble. Because every time we Latinos look at the GOP, what we see is Gringoes On Parade. You mention in your editor's note, right there on the second page, that Ronald Reagan used to say that Hispanics were Republicans who didn't know it. Well, I think Republicans son unos malditos racistas desgraciados who don't know it.

Have you been watching those debates? I have. Not all 20,000 of them. But a few, and it's scary what gets applause. English-only, applause. E-verify, applause. Build a wall on the border, applause. Build two walls, applause. Electrify both walls and put a moat in between them filled with crocodiles, applause. Deport Dora the Explorer, applause. Nominate Jan Brewer for sainthood, applause. Repeal Oprima El Dos, applause. Replace capital gains tax with piñata tax, applause. Ban ethnic studies, applause. Ban ethnics, applause. Fire teachers with accents, applause. Fire baseball players with accents... well, let's not get carried away.

And TIME, you refer to these Republican tendencies as "nativist drift." How cute. I would have stuck with "raging river of supremacist xenophobia," myself. But that's a style issue, I guess. I mean as far as our Latino image getting a bashing in mass media, the crap Republicans are putting out there is almost as bad as that new sitcom '¡Rob!' On the other hand, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) just honored Rob Schneider for his show at this year's Impact Awards. The impact being outstanding achievement in leaf-blower jokes. Hey, you guys should do some research and find out if that show is funded by a Republican Super PAC. It does seem to be right in line with the GOP idea of Latino outreach.

I loved the part in your article about how even Karl Rove wants his party to chill out and adopt a more moderate tone on their anti-Latino stuff. But don't you ask follow up questions? I wanted a little more information on that. Does that mean he's changing his mind about developing deportation drones, that would robotically fly in, scoop up illegals and drop them off in Tijuana? I hope so, because I think it would be hard for the drones to always tell who's here legally and whose not. I bet even a few Puerto Ricans would be picked up by mistake, like those poor dolphins that get caught in the tuna nets all the time.

Or does Rove just mean his devoted disciples should soften the tone of their rhetoric? Because I think if your party frontrunners are calling Spanish the "language of the ghetto," it's more than a tone problem. Although, I did appreciate Gingrich going on Youtube to apologize, in Spanish, and clarify that he meant "barrio," not "ghetto."

Then Gingrich, or as my Titi Norma calls him, "El que stole Crismas," has the cojones to call Mitt Romney anti-immigrant. That's like Snooki calling Kim Kardashian an overrated reality whore.

Romney's the one who wants to get half of the 11 million undocumented Latinos in this country to "self-deport" by the end of his theoretical first term. It's supposed to be a more humane alternative to the "lock and load" plan. That idea is prompting many Latino voters, including myself, to call for Romney to self-screw.

Do you know the whole Romney story about his ancestors moving to Mexico? Because you left it out of your story and I think if you're writing about Latinos and this election, it's something your readers should know about. I mean it's all up there on Wikipedia. You could have just cut and pasted it into your story if you were too lazy to do your own reporting.

OK, so Romney's a Mormon, right? The Church of Mormon, by the way, is what you join if you think Scientology isn't cultish enough. So, Romney's great grandfather believed that marriage should be strictly between a man and as many women as he can fool into joining the harem. Polygammy (lots of gams) was part of the Mormon religion. Still is but on the D.L. Anyway, they passed a law against polygammy here in the United States. So, Mitt's great grandpa self-deported to a polygamous Mormon colony in Mexico, where he could enjoy his religious freedom with whoever's turn it was that night.

Now Romney talks very proudly about how he is descended from "legal" immigrants, as opposed to "illegal" immigrants. He never mentions that he comes from "legal" immigrants, who fled this country to evade "the law." He's the descendent of felonious fugitives. Next time you interview him, ask him about that, would you please?

His father was born in a Mormon church colony in Chihuahua, Mexico. Technically, that makes Mitt Romney an anti-immigrant anchor baby. They should give him an Impact Award, for outstanding achievement in hypocrisy.

You know who reminds me of Romney? Rubio. Looks the part. Speaks in empty bromides. Sketchy about his family history. Is he really supposed to be the Republican secret weapon for wooing Latinos away from Democrats?

All I know about Senator Marco Güero, I mean Rubio, is that he's a Tea Party guy. Let me know when he switches to the Tequila Party. Then maybe I'll take him seriously as a contender. Cubans drink rum, but if he wants all those Mexican votes, he better start swilling the agave juice and learn himself some ranchera songs. A nice pair of alligator skin boots wouldn't hurt, either.

Given previous poster candidates that Republicans hoped would exemplify their commitment to minorities and women (Sarah Palin, Herman Caine), how can one not be electrified by the prospect of Rubio on the ticket in November as the Vice Presidential guanabee. That's the rumor, right?

I have to ask, is that sidebar interview you did with Rubio, on page 29, a paid advertisement? It was pretty softball, if you ask me. You shouldn't let him get away with such evasive answers, like when you asked him why he opposed the Dream Act. He said, because "the support is not there." Well, yeah, because he doesn't support it. What a doofus. Don't you guys call the people you interview on their B.S.? I'll tell you why Republicans are against the Dream Act. Because Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream and 45 years later, the white people lost the White House. The Republicans have learned their lesson. They don't want any more minorities doing any dreaming.

Kudos, though, on including a column by Jorge Ramos (the straight Latino version of Anderson Cooper) in your issue. You gotta believe this guy when he predicts that Latinos in this country, 50-damn-million and counting, will one day put a Latino in the White House. Of course, Jorge isn't saying anything new. I think he wrote the same column last month for Newsweek.

Get this, though. I read a great book recently where the main character was a Latina president of the United States. That's right, a Latina. A Latino of the female persusian. A Chicanasapien. A bilingual Ovary-American. But not only was it fiction. It was science fiction. That's how implausible the publishers considered the idea. They figured they better put it as far in the future as possible, because nobody's going to buy a Latina clicking her tacones in the Oval Office until after everything in the 'Jetsons' becomes a reality first. Flying cars, then a Latina Commander-in-Chief. I forget the name of the book, but when I remember, I'll email it to you. That way you can start working on your article about la presidenta estadounidense. You'll be due for another Latino cover story right about the time she gets elected.

Meantime, what's up with calling Obama the "deportation president"? The guy you quoted saying that, doesn't speak for all Latinos. Puerto Ricans don't call him that. We call Obama the "boricua-on-the-Supreme-Court president." I personally sent Obama a thank you note, with a bottle of top-shelf coquito for that. Never thought I'd live to see the day there'd be someone on the Supreme court who knew what mofongo was. I think Sotomayor's life experience is going to play a pivotal role somewhere down the line, when the constitutionality of frying plantains comes up the in court docket, or anyone tries to overturn the landmark decision Maduros v. Tostones.

Unfortunately, appointing Sotomayor won't get him any Latino votes in Puerto Rico, because of course Puerto Ricans on the island can't vote in federal elections, even though they are supposedly United States citizens. Oh, don't get me started. You guys are seriously going to have to do a sequel to this article of yours right away so that you can address the finer points of everything you glossed over. See, if the immigration debate were amplified just a smidge to become a debate on Latino citizenship in general, then the Puerto Rico statehood question might get more than 30 seconds of lip-service on the mainstream news once every four years. Check the island's Facebook profile. Puerto Rico's relationship status with the United States: "It's complicated."

Can I get something else off my chest? Just because the immigration issue, such as it is, isn't about Puerto Ricans, per se, doesn't mean it doesn't impact us directly. Republicans can be wonderfully inclusive when it comes to their bigotry. Excuse me, I mean their nativist drift. So we understand that the less than hospitable sentiments toward Latinos that fuel GOP views on immigration, applies to all Latinos, regardless of national origin or legality.

When you hate against our Latino hermanos and hermanas, you hate against us. And trust me, we know you can't tell the difference between "órale" and "chévere." So it behooves us to care about immigration. And yes we use words like "behoove" too. Because we think it's chévere. ¡Órale!

What gets me is that there isn't even any consistency in immigration policy from one Latino denomination to the next. Ever heard about the wet-foot/dry-foot policy? So, OK, and this is for real, if a Cuban swims to this country from Cuba, as long as that Cuban manages to get one dry foot on U.S soil, just one dry foot (the other foot could still be in the water, bitten off by a shark or whatever), he or she instantly gets granted asylum and is on their way to citizenship.

Now, for comparison, let's say you're a Mexican crossing the border and walking through the desert for days without a drop of water, so dehydrated that you're pissing dust and cactus needles. Do you think that wet-foot, dry-foot rule applies to you? Absolutely not. Your case is handled under the much more draconian wet-back, go-back policy.

Republicans insist the GOP isn't anti-immigrant, that it's only anti "illegal" immigrant. And, boy, they love to harp on how anyone who comes here "illegally," violates the principles that this country was founded on. OK, well, here we go. First of all, while the "legality," of the immigrants in question today is certainly something that has to be resolved, still, it's principally used as a pretty convenient pretext by conservative Republicans, overwhelmingly lacking in pigmentation and rhythm, to indulge in hate born out of the territorial fear that they are losing ground. Or as Glen Beck puts it, the fear that the country is going to "collapse under the weight of diversity."

Answer me this, you oh-so-principled Republicans who claim direct lineage to the perfectly legal founders of this great land. How soon after wiping out the original native Americans, did your people start feeling their "nativist drift?" Get my drift? Republicans hide their true feelings behind the word "illegal" in reference to immigrants. It's no different than calling Obama socialist when you what you actually mean is a little darker.

You know what? I do get it, in a way, how the wave of folks from south of the border can feel so overwhelming. It seems like the country's changing over night. The truth is sometimes I look around and think, boy, there's an awful lot of Mexicans here these days. And that's on the New York City subway. But I say, so what? Just embrace it. I myself just had a little daughter who is half Mexican. So I can tell Republicans from personal experience, resistance is futile. Start saving for the quinceañera and enjoy it.

See there's more overlap with Latino communities than you'd think from reading your article, TIME. You perpetuate the mistaken assumption that we Latinos stick to ourselves, to our own little tribes, as exclusively separate constituencies based on specific heritage. What about all the mixed Latino families? One of the best things about being Latino is that we can date, marry and breed interracially, within our own race.

And TIME, you don't mind if I call you TIME, do you? Please forgive my going on and on like this. I just feel that your very important issue is very short on important background information that is very relevant, if you want your readers to understand how Latino voters feel about the way that Republicans feel about Latinos. Basically, we can't understand how Republicans can be chasing the Latino vote, while simultaneously chasing Latinos out of the country. Seems like a bit of a disconnect.

All that said, it is true, though, that deportations have gone up like crazy ever since Obama took office, as your article correctly points out. Obama swears that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is just doing its job. Maybe, but they are doing their job extra well under Obama. Could be that ICE misinterpreted the White House request to avoid breaking up families, as a directive to deport entire families instead, and that's why deportation has skyrocketed. I don't know.

But you have to look at everything else that Obama has done for Latinos. You didn't even mention most of the big ones. For instance, he eased restrictions on travel to Cuba, with the narrowly passed Babalú Bill, so that American fans of "I Love Lucy" can go visit the homeland of Ricky Ricardo, without making a suspicious stopover in Cancún. And he proposed legislation to make November 5th, National Pupusa Day. Unfortunately, Republicans are still blocking that proposal because the word "pupusa" is too sexually suggestive.

If he gets another four years, I don't know what he'll do about immigration. He does have a tendency to appropriate conservative ideas, though. So maybe he'll take up Romney's self-deportation suggestion. Only Obama's also big on tech and modernizing national infrastructure. So I wouldn't be surprised if he announces the answer to our immigration problem is self-teleportation, and awards a stimulus package to build out the necessary technology. We shall see.

I am a fan of the President. I admit it. I just am naturally drawn to complete sentences. If he could speak them in Spanish, even better. But I am not going to automatically pull the lever for him. If he wants my vote a second time, he has got to pledge to make the ñ standard on all new American keyboards. That's the deal breaker for me. And if there's anything he can do about putting the ñ back in the spelling of Montana, I'd really appreciate it. Because I know it's supposed to be Montaña.

Oh, and that's another thing. What about the negative economic impact of the Republican anti-Latino agenda? English only? Any idea how much it's going to cost to change the names of all the states, cities, towns and streets with Spanish names in this country? Think of all the signs and maps and GPS applications that would have to be scrapped and updated. I'm sure Ron Paul would agree, The United States can't afford English only! I'm assuming English-only would also have to include changing the name of Ronald Reagan's place up in the mountains of Saint Babs, from Rancho del Cielo (maybe Reagan was Hispanic and didn't know it), to Sky Ranch, or Airhead Ranch, depending on the translation.
And Rubio's rosary beads notwithstanding, if Republicans expect to win enough Latino votes just because they brand themselves as the party of faith and family, they better check their cultural calculus. Because there's one article of faith dear to all family-loving Latinos that seems lost on the GOP. As all devout Latinos know: Jesus loves anchor babies. (Even Mitt Romney, probably.)
There are Latinos who would love to vote Republican (not my friends, but I hear they are out there), if only the party were sincerely more welcoming to immigrants and meant to actually pass legislation that would help the situation.Yet Republicans behave as if all that "give us your tired, your hungry, your poor, your huddled masses" stuff is no longer relevant in this day and age -- unlike the right to bear semi-automatic weapons, which never goes out of style.

I'd like to think the message of the Statue of Liberty isn't outdated. It's just that the statue is in the wrong place. We gotta move it to the border! How about over by Nogales? Can we afford to do it? I say, let's use the fence money.

Before I forget, who's the photographer that took all the super intense pictures you put on the cover of this issue? Because I need some new mug shots of myself. That's what they looked like to me, all those faces in rows of boxes. C'mon TIME Magazine! If you're going to do a profile on Latino voters, you can't be insensitive to how that visual might come across. Do you have any Latinos on staff over there? Just saying you might want to include them in the meetings. Bounce a few concepts off your in-house vida-loca people. It's gonna save you some embarrassment.

Like it or not, the negative-stereotypes of Latinos are so ingrained that the very layout of your cover runs the risk of conveying the message of criminality. Even to me.
I automatically thought, "Why else would TIME Magazine put that many Latinos on the cover, unless they had just been busted in a major drug cartel sting?" Then I thought, "Oh, look, they got the grandmother, too. Probably she's the gang leader. It's always the sweet little abuelita running the family operation."

I understand most of the flack you took on the cover, though, was about the dude behind the letter M in your TIME logo. Turns out he's Asian not Latino, huh? Big deal. And what did you apologize for? Because you suck at racial profiling? A little residual Linsanity leaked onto your Latino cover. Coulda happened to any once well-respected magazine. Matter of fact, next time you do a cover story on Latinos, don't put any Latinos on the cover. Make them all Asian. It'll be symbolic of the fact they're taking over next.

Why? ¡Porque because!

Atentatmente,

Bill Santiago