Friday, July 01, 2005

Racist Like a Fox 

Okay, maybe cultural history is a wee bit different in Mexico, but you'd have to be a complete idiot to not think that this:

is utterly racist artwork that we haven't seen in the US, at least not outside of a few Deep South holdouts, since the 1960s. I look at these stamps, and terms like "pickaninny," "Aunt Jemima," "Uncle Tom" and worse come to mind.

President Fox of Mexico justifies it by claiming that Memin Pinguin is a beloved comic book figure, blah blah blah. Well, y'know what? Little Black Sambo and Amos 'n Andy were beloved comic figures in this country until more enlightened attitudes prevailed.

Remember this guy?

Cartoon Network dumped him in 1999, and Warner Bros. has kept him out of recent Looney Tunes revivals. Which is sort of neither here nor there.

Now, all this said, do I think the Mexican stamps should be banned? No. If the government thinks this is a suitable artwork for postage, so be it. Let their backward attitudes be shown to the world. Would I buy them if I lived in Mexico? Hard to say. If I were suddenly living there being who I am now, no, of course not. Had I been born and raised there, I have no idea. I will note, though, that Mexico outlawed slavery in 1829 -- several generations before America did it. Also, demographically, Mexico's African-Americans (yes, Mexico is part of North America) seem to have vanished. Otherwise, the Black population of Mexico is less than 1% total. Contrast this to the United States, with 12.9%. (Mexico's complete breakdown is: Mestiso (Amerindian/Spanish) 60%, Amerindian 30%, white 9%, other 1%).

So, given the numbers, there really isn't a big enough demographic in Mexico to be offended by the stamps. In a way, this action is really a big booster for the idea of multiculturalism. The US, in the present day, would never release stamps featuring, say, A Tribute to Uncle Tom or Shylock on Stage. Why? Because we have diversity in this country. As contrasted to places like Mexico -- or Japan or Korea -- which are racially monolithic and, not surprisingly, somewhat racist.

So, let's thank Mexico for reminding the world of at least one of the reasons the US -- as a country and as a people, not as a crazed empire bent on world domination -- is a good thing. And why, despite our current troubles, we have a good chance of surviving the current fiasco. Because, as a people, we're better than that.

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