Sunday, March 16, 2008

Perspective: Border Opinions Differ

Every few weeks I receive the following picture via e-mail. Every time it arrives, I think "hate speech" and move on.

The "Yours / Not Yours" image appears to be a screen capture from Google Maps with some very rudimentary photo editing.

It is usually accompanied by some inflammatory writing.

As I write this, I sit about 45 miles from "Yours." I lived here, in Las Cruces, N.M., for 5 years. As I've bored readers here many times, I edited the NMSU student newspaper for two years, and I worked at the daily newspaper for more than a year.

Perhaps for this reason, I just don't understand the vitriol. The line between "Yours" and "Not Yours" is simply arbitrary, and to treat it as anything more is foolish to me.

Of all the problems in our country, this just does not rank for me. I've walked the streets of Ciudad Juárez with camera in hand. I've walked down the streets that the tourists do not walk down. I have seen the poverty and despair first-hand. Wanting to leave that for the chance to break one's back picking chiles in Doña Ana County just does not strike me as a crime against humanity.

Yet this is the issue for many Americans. Hence the semi-regular arrival of the photograph above.

Last week, however, I saw the image below courtesy of my friend and fellow NMSU alum Joy Victory. Joy lives in Mexico City and posted the following photograph of an Absolut Vodka billboard on her excellent blog this week.

Photo courtesy of Joy Victory, El Blog de Joy.

According to Joy, "This billboard sits above the corner of Nuevo Leon and Sonora, a busy intersection in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City."

The billboard, quite clearly, is part of Absolut's In an Absolut World campaign.

According to Absolut's Web site, "The starting point of the advertising campaign was simple ‘what if everything in the world was approached with the ideal in which we approach ABSOLUT vodka?,’ " according to Karl-Johan Bogefors, Global PR Manager, ABSOLUT Vodka.

Therefore, one is to infer that Absolut interprets the map on the billboard as the "ideal" cartography from the Mexican point of view.

What a stark contrast to the image above.

Clearly, the economics of Mexico City are far different from border towns. The money of the United States acts like a vacuum to the worst elements of a poorer nation (and those south of it).

As far as I can tell from this Web site, the map on the billboard includes:
  • Present day Mexico
  • Republic of Texas (1836-1845), which was apparently claimed by the U.S. from 1845-1848.
  • Mexican Cession (1848)
  • Gadsden Purchase (1853)
At present, I'm sitting about 8 miles from the border of the Gadsden Purchase. A little more than 150 years ago, I'd be on the virtual Mexican border.

This map shows a series of somewhat arbitrary political and military decisions. Twenty miles or so south of here is the town of Anthony (New Mexico and Texas). It's a poor town by U.S. standards. But the quality of life there is vastly different than Juárez, another 25 miles or so to the south.

My point is simply that many of the people living in Anthony are surely descendants of those people who lived in that area 155 years ago. They are American citizens because the border crossed them, not the other way around.

Those ancestors likely played no role in the Gadsden Purchase. I doubt they voted or were polled. Instead, they got lucky.

And if the history of the matter really is that arbitrary, it is difficult for me to muster any passion for the position that looks at the Rio Grande river as if some demarcation of truth where on one side you are entitled to a better education and a much longer lifespan. On the other side of the line, poverty and despair. That's "yours."

And I am supposed to believe this is "not yours."

I'm sorry. I just don't.

Labels: , , ,


Blogger Joy said...

Awesome! Of course, I've been hit with lots of racist comments from random readers, but thankfully I "accidentally" hit delete several times.

3:21 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home