Report From Occupied America: Sunday in the Park with Jorge

One of the most overused clichés of
contemporary journalism is that massive Mexican
immigration will make American life more "vibrant".
This is especially true of

Eastern Seaboard pundits
, who have typically spent
less time in a

Mexican-American neighborhood
in the U.S. than they

vacationing in Mexico.

After all, the plaza at the heart
of an old

colonial Mexican
town like

can be a

delightful place
to while away an evening on
holiday—sitting in a café under the arcade, listening to

brass band play in the park
while watching
pedestrians promenade.

Unfortunately, outside of perhaps

San Antonio`s Riverwalk
tourist zone, this
experience has seldom been replicated in Mexican
neighborhoods in the U.S. They tend to be depressing, if
not downright dismal—not as ominous and nightmarish as

many black neighborhoods,
but that`s setting a
rather low standard.

One reason: the incompatibility
between traditional Mexican lifestyles, which center
around going down to the town square and hanging out,

sprawling American cities and suburbs
, which seldom
provide central focal points.

From the Mexican point of view, the
problem with most American Sun Belt cities is the one

by Gertrude Stein about

: "There`s no there there."

For example,

Los Angeles
notoriously lacks a central place to
gather. There is, indeed,

a tiny old plaza downtown,
next to kitschy

Olvera Street
. But it is on a

scale appropriate
for the dusty pueblo that LA was
before 1848—not for the megalopolis of the 21st Century.
So it is of negligible use.

Accordingly, therefore, Mexicans in
Los Angeles take over public parks to

. For example, at the big Hansen Dam
Recreation Center in the northeast

San Fernando Valley
last Sunday afternoon, a couple
of thousand people were assembled. This was no special
occasion, just a normal Sunday.

The crowd was virtually 100%
Latino. Before I arrived with my family, a friendly
African-American guy selling funnel cakes was the sole

Although we are constantly lectured
about the wonders of "diversity," the plain fact
is that Mexicans seem to prefer ethnic homogeneity and
monoculturalism. Indeed, the scene was identical to ones
taking place a

thousand miles to the south.
And the picnickers
couldn`t be happier about that.

American-style parks aren`t
designed for Mexican tastes. Ours tend to have too many
open lawns and not enough trees. Mexicans

against folks, which means nobody wants
to tan. So everybody at Hansen Dam crowded together in
the shade of the bordering trees, even though the
temperature was only in the 80s.

Still, for all their American
deficiencies, parks are the best gathering places
available to Mexicans in LA.

commentators frequent assume that
Mexican immigrants will automatically assimilate into
American culture because our way of life is just so much
more wonderful. In reality, however, Mexican culture is
mature, stable, deeply-rooted, and highly appealing to

Granted, it`s not very effective at producing the kinds
of things that, say,

Ben Franklin
most valued—such as

scientific progress

technological inventiveness
; a love of the printed

civic cooperativeness
; and an optimal mix of
liberty, order, and equality.

But Mexicans have different values,
which their culture caters to.

The Mexican intellectual

Jorge Castaneda,
who served as

Foreign Secretary
under Vicente Fox, delineated the
disparity in values between American and Mexican
cultures in a 1995 Atlantic Monthly essay with
the apt title "Ferocious
. For example, according to
Castaneda, Americans tend to focus upon the future,
while Mexicans live for today and dwell mentally in the
past. Hence the

Mexican-American War
of the 1840s

matters a lot more to Mexicans
than to

The idea that Mexican immigrants
will gladly give up Mexican culture wouldn`t make much
sense to the people in Hansen Dam Park. They were having
a lot more fun than gringos would have.

About a dozen small bands were

mariachi music,
creating a festive (if clashing)
sound track. Horseback riders wove in and out. Vendors
sold South-of-the-Border specialties such as watermelon
chunks covered with hot sauce.

Of course, the reason for much of
the fun at Hansen Dam was that

the LAPD has apparently given up trying
, under sheer
weight of numbers, to enforce any of those

American laws.

I`m not even talking about

immigration laws,
but about the kind of


, and

rules that are the pride of American
liberalism. In contrast,

Fred Reed
, the curmudgeonly columnist who recently

moved to Mexico
because America has gotten too

for his rugged individualist tastes,

would have had a great time.

One of the conundrums of modern politics is that lax
immigration enforcement is importing a vast class of
people who hold many of the proudest accomplishments of
the modern American liberals—who (theoretically) welcome
them —in contempt…on those rare occasions when the
illegal immigrants even notice them. Mexicans bring with
them a

culture. It has its strengths and
weaknesses, but the strengths aren`t anything that
liberals admire when found in

white Americans.

Most white progressives resolve
this tension by simply refusing to pay attention to
reality, while mouthing cant phrases like "Diversity
adds so much magic to our lives."

Certainly, no white liberals were
on hand at Hansen Dam.

So, say you`re sitting around in
the park with your brand new

cowboy hat on
, pounding back

a few cervezas,
and it occurs to you that,
since you have got the hat, you should get the

to go with it. What could make more sense than
going for a horseback ride through a crowded park full
of little kids?

Well, at Hansen Dam, you`re in

In the American part of America, renting a horse has

expensive and time-consuming
because liability
insurance is so steep. Riding is

, as the sad examples of

Christopher Reeve

Cole Porter

But at Hansen Dam on weekends,
there are horse-owners around everywhere who will rent
you a horse, few questions asked. They don`t have signs
advertising their business because what they are doing

. So you have to ask. (In

, of course.)

If one of the many small children
about happens to stumble under the hooves of your mount
and get trampled, well, that`s tragic. But who could
have foreseen such bad luck?

About 50 feet from where we were
sitting, two young men started punching each other as
hard as their state of

would allow. Their friends swarmed in
and separated them, trying to get the

to calm down. But every few minutes, one
would slip free from the restraining hands and attack
his rival again.

This was quite entertaining. But
the fourth time the fight flared up, I got concerned
that eventually

somebody might pull out a gun.

So, we took off, gingerly dodging

drunk drivers in
the parking lot.

Sunday at Hansen Dam Park is
reminiscent of the charming and depressing Mexican
imprudence and

that are a major theme in Stones for Ibarra, a
minor classic of an autobiographical novel written by a
starchy, logical-minded San Francisco lady named

Harriet Doerr
(played, appropriately enough, by
Glenn Close in the

1988 movie version

Around 1960, Doerr and her husband
moved to a small Mexican village named Ibarra, where her
husband had inherited a copper mine that an American
ancestor had abandoned during the

Mexican Revolution.

The American couple was invited to
the village`s frequent fiestas, where a good time was
had by all until, routinely, one of the partiers would
lose an eye or a limb in a

fireworks accident

. Each year, the same celebrations would roll
around again. And the same sort of catastrophes would
re-occur, like clockwork.

The book`s title refers to the
small piles of stones that commemorate where somebody
was killed.

There are many such stone memorials
in Ibarra.

The aftermath of

Sunday in the Park with Jorge
isn`t quite as

Seth Shteir
of the

Audubon Society
wrote in the local LA Daily News:

"The ground is


hypodermic needles, plastic garbage bags, diapers and
soda cans.
Human and dog excrement attracts flies in
hardening piles. … The blackened vegetation suggests
that someone built a fire that later raged out of
control. … Hansen Dam also suffers illegal incursions by
all-terrain vehicles."

The environmental damage can be
serious. Shteir notes:


May 13 brush fire
at Hansen Dam… which almost
certainly had human origins, destroyed 80 acres of
willow forest, including the territories of four

least Bell`s vireos
." [Park
misuse hurts beauty and beasts
June 13, 2007]

Shteir, clearly a gringo killjoy, points out:

"We need to increase
resource-management efforts and law enforcement

But a

lack of law enforcement
is the sine qua non
of a Mexican day of fun in the sun.

In summary, there`s much about

Mexican culture
I like. Ultimately, though, while
Mexico is a nice place to visit, I wouldn`t want to

live there.

I shouldn`t have to. That`s what

separate countries
is for.

[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic

The American Conservative
His website
features his daily