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Why do Mexicans want to take back California?

The Mexican replies

Dear Mexican,

What is it with you Mexicans who want to take back California? Is it that conquistador blood that's driving you?

Go Back to Granada

Dear Gabacho,

Besides beards, light skin and bad wine, the Spanish conquistadors brought with them to Mexico the legacy of reconquista, which has replaced WMDs as the número uno doomsday conspiracy espoused by conservatives. Originally, reconquista was a specific period of Spanish history (about the eighth century AD to 1492) in which Spain's Catholic nobles united to expel the North African Muslims (they called them Moors) from the Iberian Peninsula. Today, reconquista refers to a hypothetical master plan by Mexican officials to reconquer the southwestern United States -- territories lost in the 1848 Mexican-American War. Their ostensible weapon is unlimited migration. It sure seems reconquista is a reality, what with bilingual ballots, Spanish-language radio stations topping the Arbitron ratings nationwide, salsa supplanting ketchup as the top-selling condiment in U.S. supermarkets, the Aztec prophecy that the People of the Sun would return to their northern ancestral lands -- and a 2002 Zogby poll showing that 58 percent of Mexicans believed that the U.S. Southwest rightfully belonged to them.

But as a member of the invading army, the Mexican can say without a doubt that reconquista is a myth. Primeramente, the Mexican government is incapable of formulating a sound economic policy; can we really expect it to successfully take over former territories not named Guatemala? Those who insist reconquista is real also forget American history, which time and time again shows that immigrants in America plan the takeover of their mother countries, not their adopted nation. Prominent examples include José Marti (Cuba), Garibaldi (Italy) and the Irish and Jews. If there's a reconquista, it's working in reverse: Mexicans in the United States make their fortunes here and send money (along with toasters, big-screen TVs, monster trucks and democracy) south. As a result, Mexico is freer than ever before.

So why does a concept as loco as reconquista earn such an enthusiastic reception among conservatives? Simple: It's easier to point at Mexicans for the problems of illegal immigration than to critique the American economic and political structures that require cheap labor. If conservatives believe in any gospel in these days of international aggression and ballooning federal spending, it's this: When all else fails, blame the Mexicans.

Dear Mexican,

Where can I find a dictionary of Mexican slang -- güero, pinche, vato, etc.? Something geared for the curious gringo? Preferably online?

Güero Loco

Dear Gabacho,

Gracias for the plug, Crazy Light-Skinned Guy. Visit www.houstonpress.com to find the brand-new ¡Ask a Mexican! glossary, which defines the most commonly used terms in this column, including wab, gero and pinche puto pendejo baboso. In the tradition of Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary, the Mexican also provides alternative definitions for Spanish words popular among gabachos. Take, for instance, piñata ("A toy Mexicans hang above their heads and beat mercilessly until its goodies spill forth. Otherwise known as the United States"). The Mexican invites readers to send their own alternate definitions for common words -- e-mail me, and I'll publish the best in an upcoming column!

 
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