Enough Already About the Mexican-American War!


Last month, during my morning

English as a Second Language
class, I had an
unusually spirited conversation with one of the

handful of people
who showed up. (Early January is
the rainy, foggy and cold season here in

California`s San Joaquin Valley
. And that translates
to sparse attendance at the Lodi Adult School.)

Gustava…as I will call her…is one
of the better pupils that I have had in my

two decades of teaching ESL.

By that I mean that she attends
most days, brings a dictionary, speaks above average
English for an

English language learner
, participates actively in
the classroom and has a measurable interest not only in
the immediate subject matter but also in the

broader picture of life in America.

For lack of a better word, I will
say that Gustava is “aware.”

On this particular bleak day, the
class was thumbing through the

Lodi News-Sentinel
chatting about current events
when we came across the inevitable daily story about
casualties in

Iraq
.

“That`s
the thing about the American government…always
interfering in other countries. Always fighting and
killing people to get its own way,
” said Gustava.

And within the next few seconds,
Gustava took a 160-year step back in time—to the

Mexican-American War
and the

stolen land
theme.

The

Mexican-American War
and its consequences are alive
and well in the heart of every

Mexican student
I have ever taught. The only
variable is how close to the surface it has bubbled.

A few grudgingly admit the war is
ancient history. For the majority, however, it could
have happened yesterday.

In Gustava`s case, she is still
riled up. To her credit, she laid a good share of the
blame on the failures of the corrupt

Mexican leader
, Antonio Lopez de

Santa Anna
.

(If you want to hear the harshest
possible assessment of Mexican corruption, don`t talk to
an American immigration reform advocate—ask
any Mexican
.)

But ultimately, Gustava pointed her
finger at

Yankee Imperialism
.

While it is impossible to deny that
the United States was not in a land gobbling mode during the years surrounding the Mexican-American War—Manifest
Destiny
, remember—what`s much more interesting to
analyze is the mentality that will not let go of a war
fought and lost more than 150 years ago.

Here are a few questions that run
through my mind every time someone tells me that

America stole land from Mexico.

  • How are we defining

    “stolen”
    ? The United States fought a war
    with Mexico. Mexico lost. The two countries

    signed a treaty.
    The United States gave Mexico
    $15 million. That`s stolen?

  • Why have my

    Vietnamese
    , Cambodian and Laotian students been
    able to put behind them the much more recent

    Southeast Asian War
    while Mexicans wallow in the
    1850s? That

    futile war
    destroyed the entire countries of
    Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Men, women and children
    were forced into exile and refugee camps. Millions
    were killed. My students from those Asian countries
    are saddened when the think back. But they are not
    angry. Even former

    Defense Secretary Robert McNamara,
    on a trip to
    Vietnam, acknowledged that the war is

    “ancient history
    as far as the Vietnamese
    are concerned.

  • If Mexico is still angry, why
    aren`t the French? Years ago, I traveled regularly
    to

    France
    . I never heard word one about “stolen
    land”
    or any talk of “getting even” for
    the Louisiana Purchase. In that transaction, the
    United States acquired for nickels and dimes what
    now makes up nearly 25 percent of the national
    territory. 

  • Finally—and this is the
    $64,000 question—is Gustava and every other Mexican
    in America better off even though the United States
    stole,” to use their word,  the

    land
    they now live in? The answer is,
    overwhelmingly, “Yes.” According to a recent
    report by

    Transparency International
    , the oddly-named
    organization that monitors global corruption, Mexico
    ranks 58th on the list of most corrupt
    countries with #1 being the least corrupt.

In summary:

  • Nothing was stolen from
    Mexico.

  • The French never cared.

  • And Mexicans are living a
    better life in a progressive country instead of a

    Third World slum
    where so many are still drying
    laundry on adobe bricks.

Only the Mexicans cling to their
distorted view of the distant past…and bring it up at
every opportunity.

Here`s a suggestion to

Mexicans on either side of the border
who are

still in a huff
over the outcome of the
Mexican-American war: chill out… tienes  que relajar.

And may I, at the same time, extend
an invitation to those of you griping about a

land grab
to join the rest of us in the 21st
Century?

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.