June 5, 2010
Dear Steve Nuñez,
I just read the print version of your interview and it is precisely why I am reluctant to grant interviews. I attempted to be candid; however, I forgot that we are living in the age of Fox News which almost makes civil discourse impossible. This is disconcerting because there can be no resolution without people listening to each other.
The first distortion is your obsession with the word "occupied," which meaning has been totally mangled. I made two points: 1) America refers to two continents. Latin Americans chafe at the United States appropriating the term as if it had ownership of the word. They have called this chauvinistic. I did not call the book in question "Occupied Mexico." The title of my book is a metaphor for the European occupation of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. So, the question is, have Europeans treated the native peoples justly? In the book I am very critical of how the Spaniards and then the Mexicans treated the indigenous people. According to the CIA Fact book online, considerably less than one percent of the population of this country has Native American blood. What does this mean? At the same time, 30 percent of Mexico is indigenous, 60 percent are mix bloods? What does this say? In both countries there is inequality. In both countries equal access to education and amenities such as housing and income is measured by the hue of the person's skin. In this instance, "occupied" takes on another context. Institutional racism exists and the topic should be explored in a dispassionate way.
My second concern is your audience's lack of literacy. I read one blog saying that the United States paid for the Southwest as part of the Gadsden Purchase. First of all the reader is not dealing with fact. The Gadsden Purchase deals with southern Arizona and parts of New Mexico. Anyway, books have been written by white scholars that say that the treaty was coerced. I would recommend that the reader go to the library--it is free. My point is how can you have civil discourse with people who do not read? Who don't understand the meaning of words? This is frustrating and I believe that it is the duty of KGUN to educate people and its duty to correct misstatements or lies.
I must say that there is a qualitative difference between your coverage and that of the print media. On my way back to LA I read the Arizona Daily Star. A front page article was titled "Border is relatively safe, gov't data show." According to the reporter, there is a disconnect between FBI data and what xenophobic Arizona politicos and the gaggle of extremists say. Shouldn't the question be who is telling the truth? Is the FBI data flawed? Or, is it your politicians who are distorting the facts? Maybe, I am asking too much from people who are so full of hate --but the truth matters.
"Occupied" in this instance takes on another semantical context. Occupation becomes a metaphor for inequality. Is everyone equal in this country, and if not how can we achieve this equality? Unfortunately, this discourse is not possible in the Arizona that I just left. The Arizona where my mother's family lived for 300 years. It is a Bladerunner world where politicos and a gaggle of disafffected people want to hunt down replicants.
Lastly, I resent others defining my patriotism. I resent censorship. To the credit of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League of which Tom Horne was a member, it has disassociated itself from Horne: "ADL regional director Bill Straus concluded, 'Exploring one’s culture and roots is important to the overall identity that we all carry. We found there were baseless charges made about the program [La Raza Studies] and that it’s not anti-American.' Strauss added, 'We also found that it turned dropouts into students and then into high school graduates.' Committee members also found the ethnic studies program promoted pride and a sense of belonging, impelling Latino youth and attracting them to the classroom."
I have made an extensive google search of Horne's involvement during the Vietnam War. I cannot find any record of his service. I volunteered draft during the Korean Conflict. Today, Horne wants to police teachers who have accents. I remember serving with soldiers who had Mexican and Puerto Rican accents. Were they less patriotic than Horne?
Rodolfo F. Acuña, PhD
Professor Emeritus
California State University Northridge