I've looked everywhere, including the Pew Hispanic Center, but I can't find a concise summary of the number of Hispanics who have served, died and been wounded in the current war. From what I can determine, Hispanics have been serving this country in war since the revolution. In Texas, where I've lived since 1970, Lorenzo DeZavala, whose great-great-grandson I know, helped form this state.
The Ghost of Guy Gabaldon
This is ¡Ask a Mexican! (not ¡Ask a Latino!) but I'll make an exception for your important query. The Pew Hispanic Center did release a report on Latino attitudes toward the Iraq invasion (we generally hate it); when it comes to Latinos in the military, there exists no comprehensive overview, just snippets. Some of them: More Latinos have died in Iraq than any other ethnicity; Latinos represent about 11 percent of total American casualties so far. The number of noncitizen Latinos serving reaches into the tens of thousands, meaning that while most know-nothings rail about aliens from the comfort of a sidewalk, a lot of those evil anchor babies are out fighting to preserve the freedom that allows pendejos to slur their families.
I am the proud uncle of five Mexican redneck kids who recently moved to Wausau with their mamá wisconsiana after living in la Capirucha all their lives. I've talked to them on the phone several times a week since they left for la tierra de los sueños materializados, and I've noticed slight changes in the way they talk. I'm worried they might lose their mellifluous, middle-class capitalino accent and replace it with some sort of Ricky Martin-Univisión-migra-spokesman one. Is it wrong for me to expect them not to partake in the Spanish that is spoken in the country they now live in? Even worse: Is it bad to think that American pan-Spanish is demeaning to the lengua itself? I'd rather be listening to them speaking like tepiteños than this.
Mexicano Temeroso del Cambio
The above Mexican who's fearful of change is a denizen of Mexico City, which counts among its many ignominies (smog, crime, overcrowding) and beauties (sprawl, a heritage going back millennia, danielhernandez.typepad.com) the world's greatest Spanish: a baroque, mind-numbing string of bawdiness, twisting tones and words starting with the sound ch (listen to Café Tacuba's remake of "Chilanga Banda" for this dialect's highest form) that makes custodians of Cervantes cringe. That's not the language of Temeroso's nephews y sobrinas, however — it seems they're fresas (literally "strawberries" but also a derisive nickname for hipsters), given that he boasts of their middle-class upbringing and rags on residents of Tepito, Mexico City's version of Detroit. But I feel bad for the guy, because he's fucked. If there's but one lesson you take from this column, America, it's that language is the most malleable, fleeting cultural trait. Mexico City Spanish is different from the español of other Mexican states, and both differ from the Spanish of el Norte, which mixes the argots of other Latinos to create the version that Temeroso so scorns. Your precious nephews will succumb to this blight, but they also will contribute to the growth of their new master Spanish. The only hope you can maintain to ensure some level of Mexican cultural purity is to ensure that the niños don't become cheeseheads. Teach them to root for the Oakland Raiders — or at least the Dallas Cowboys.
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