Live with ’em or go around ’em?

By Pris Squires

When I got home from the grocery store and saw my expensive bottle of salad dressing had been opened, I almost threw a hissy fit. The store being too far away to just hop into the car and take it back, I just decided to go around it. And the time I went to the drug store to get some makeup and got it home only to find that someone had already "tried it out," then put it back into the package and replaced it on the shelf, I really hit the ceiling. This sort of thing happens all the time down here in North Mexico, formerly known as Texas. Our Hispanic neighbors do not work on the same principles as we Anglos do.

When Hispanics shop, they browse as they go. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a woman take a jar or bottle off a shelf, open, smell/taste, re-cap and put it back. The little kids seem to think HEB (our biggest grocery chain) is an all-you-can-eat buffet. You see them being wheeled along or running everywhere, cramming whatever comes within reach into their mouths. No wonder my food costs are so high. But this behavior seems to be acceptable to their culture. My mama would take a peach tree switch to me if I stole anything like that. Ah, our Hispanic neighbors. Live with ’em or go around ’em.

Now, don’t get me wrong. For the most part, Hispanics are friendly, hard working people and they are brave to a fault. Any time a person is in danger, be it fire, flood, whatever, the first person rushing in to help is usually a young Hispanic. They have no fear. While the rest of us are fumbling for our cell phones, this kid has jumped in and pulled the endangered person to safety, and sometimes they perish in the effort. A young man not far from here died recently when he went back into his burning home to rescue his crippled father. Neither made it out.

However, that very same sense of "machismo" can cause problems, especially with the Mexican gangs which are so numerous in large towns and cities. "This is my car and my dog and my woman, and I’ll kill you if you touch any of them!" And they do. The murder rate among young Hispanic males is astronomical, although for the most part they only kill each other. They seldom commit murder against Anglos or Blacks. Odd. "Con brio" rules.

But the most disturbing thing about these folks concerns their religious practices. A huge percentage of them are Roman Catholic and the most loyal church attendees, but there is a strong undercurrent of the old "santanista" witch doctor culture hidden inside the fašade of the established religion they practice. Some years ago, a young pre-med student named Mark Kilroy disappeared from the streets of Nuevo Laredo where he and friends had gone for Spring Break. He was kidnaped by a group of santanistas, taken out to what became known as The Death Ranch, had his skull chopped open with a machete and his brain eaten. It was their belief that the brain of an American, especially a "rubio" (blond) would make the criminals smarter and more able to evade the border patrol as they smuggled drugs over the border. No one knows just how many bodies were discovered at that horrible place, but there were many. Who knows? Mark Kilroy might have been the one to discover the cure for cancer.

A short while back, there was an article in the local paper about a tamale street vendor who had his home raided in which were found human body parts having been "boiled with herbs." The police speculated this was to be the "tamales de jour" which he would have sold out on the streets. And please don’t tell me what’s in menudo or barbacoa; I don’t need to see my food looking back at me. A lot of these people are so recently come from "the old country" they have not lost any of their "Mexicanness," as Jose Angel Guiterrez puts it. They are just pushing aside the culture which has developed in this state for over two centuries.

Now, I know a single bottle of opened salad dressing is a small item, but it is symptomatic of vile things happening in our country. America has a culture which developed in a way that suited the majority of people living here; we do things in the way which seems most acceptable. Yet all of that is in grave danger of being swept away in a brown tide of humanity having no regard for our traditions and customs, and which sometimes goes beyond the bounds of common humanity. I still have that bottle of dressing sitting on my kitchen sink. Can’t use it, but, having paid for it, I hate to throw it out. Guess I’m like most Texans (and others) these days – stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do I live with ’em or go around ’em?

It’s for sure that our government won’t help.

The First Freedom