It`s an exciting time in Mexico, as the country celebrates its Independence Day (15-16 September). And it`s not just any Independence Day either. This year it`s the Bicentennial. And not only that, it`s also the Centennial! How is that possible?
First off, let`s get one thing out of the way—Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo is not an important holiday in Mexico. The last school year in which I taught in Mexico, my school didn`t even bother to let out for it! The recent promotion of Cinco de Mayo north of the border owes a lot to beer companies, ethnic activists, and pandering politicians. It`s a tool for the Hispanicization of the United States. But in Mexico, it`s mostly ignored.
The two patriotic Mexican holidays that truly are celebrated by the people are Independence Day and Revolution Day (traditionally November 20th but nowadays the third Monday in November).
Independence Day celebrates the night in 1810 when Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo gathered a crowd and rang a bell in front of a church in the town of Dolores, calling for the multitude to rise up against the government of the Spanish viceroy. Hidalgo wasn`t actually calling for independence from Spain, which was then subject to Napoleon, but after his death the movement he began became focused on independence. Mexico finally became independent in 1821. But today it`s the 1810 date which is celebrated, not the 1821 date.
Revolution Day celebrates the beginning of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, a civil war that lasted about 10 years (historians aren`t in agreement on its end point). This conflict is most notable for producing the current (though much-revised) Mexican Constitution.
Thus, in 2010, Mexico celebrates both its Bicentennial of Independence and its Centennial of Revolution.
The Mexicans have pulled out all the stops to celebrate this year. Planning began in 2006 under the Fox administration. Calendar year 2010 is a year-long festival, with all sorts of programs to commemorate the Bicentennial and Centennial.
The Bicentennial/Centennial year of 2010 is being commemorated by over 700 activities. There are ceremonies, conferences, radio shows and art exhibitions. Mexican television stations broadcast related programming, and highways are marked with the Ruta 2010 signs indicating historical routes.
It`s not only the Mexican federal government which is promoting the Bicentennial. So are all 31 states and the Federal District (Mexico City).
It`s even being celebrated outside of Mexico—which mostly means in the United States. Here are some photographs of celebrations which have already taken place in Los Angeles and Chicago (including the participation of one Jose Hernandez, the anchor baby astronaut).
Meanwhile, back in Mexico there`s even a Bicentennial song which was designated the official Bicentennial song but then declared not to be the official song! Anyway, it`s still out there and it`s catchy. You can see and hear the video here. It`s written by Jaime Lopez and sung by Aleks Syntek, both white Mexicans. Lopez has the beard. Singer/keyboardist Syntek (real name Raul Escajadillo) looks like Elton John in his younger days and in fact has been called the Mexican Elton John.
Soon however, a parody surfaced on YouTube, which references contemporary Mexican life in lyrics such as "taxes go up", "gasoline goes up", "another [narco] gunfight". It`s also worth listening to, here.
Mexico City`s main plaza is called the Zocalo. It`s where, because Mexicans don`t have to put up with a War on Christmas, an enormous artificial Christmas tree is set up each winter. It`s also where the traditional 15th of September Grito celebration is held by the president, who stands on the balcony of the Capitol Building, waves a Mexican flag and calls out vivas for Mexico and famous historical personages.
Since this is the much-touted Bicentennial, this year`s Grito might well be the biggest one yet. Likewise the annual parade on September 16th could be the biggest one yet.
Interestingly enough, there are 575 foreign military troops marching in the parade, from 16 countries, including the U.S. But the Mexican president had to get permission from the Mexican Senate to allow them to march in the parade.
Certainly, there is criticism of the big Bicentennial/Centennial bash. There are questions about the cost, and reflective questions about what Mexico has actually accomplished in 200 years.
Nevertheless, these criticisms are couched in terms of a Mexican context. The critics are not calling for Mexican holidays to be abandoned in favor of the 4th of July!
Whatever Mexicans may think of their government or its direction, they love their patriotic festivals. They love their flag and national anthem. They prefer their Constitution to ours. They love being Mexicans. And it doesn`t matter what kinds of problems Mexico has, or what people think of the government. Mexicans want to remain being Mexicans.
And this applies to the vast majority of Mexicans who immigrate (legally or illegally) to the United States. They don`t come seeking freedom and they are not starving. Most do not come with a burning desire to become Americans. They may oppose or be indifferent to the current Mexican government, but they are not rejecting Mexican culture.
So if you transplant millions of Mexicans to the U.S., what`s going to happen? They are going to transplant Mexican culture into the United States. And the more Mexicans we bring in, the harder it`s going to be to assimilate them—especially when our own government encourages them not to assimilate!
Mexicans don`t want the U.S. to take over their country. They might, however, take over our country if we just hand it over to them!
In short, Mexican nationalism is good for Mexicans—in Mexico. It`s when the U.S. imports Mexican nationalism into its own body politic that we`re asking for trouble.
It`s up to our leaders, not Mexico`s leaders, to defend U.S. sovereignty.
"How can I love my home without coming to realize that other men, no less rightly, love theirs? Once you have realized that Frenchmen like café complet just as we like bacon and eggs—why good luck to them and let them have it. The last thing we want is to make everywhere else just like our own home. It would not be home unless it were different."
And, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn said in his 1970 Nobel speech,
"..the disappearance of nations would have impoverished us no less than if all men had become alike, with one personality and one face. Nations are the wealth of mankind, its collective personalities; the very least of them wears its own special colours and bears within itself a special facet of divine intention."
Lewis and Solzhenitsyn refer to well-defined differences between cultures. When one culture is invading and supplanting another culture, then that`s an entirely different situation. That`s why, as the saying goes, "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors".
So, let`s all wish Mexico a happy Bicentennial/Centennial. Have a great fiesta. Let it be a time of celebration and reflection.
Then let Mexico construct its own future and let us construct ours. If the U.S. and Mexico can work together on issues of mutual interest, by all means let us do so. But each society should be in charge of its own country.
Happy Bicentennial/Centennial, Mexico!
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) recently moved back to the U.S.A. after many years residing in Mexico. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.