On Friday, August 10th, US Olympian Leo Manzano, winner of the Silver Medal in the 1500 meter track and field race ran his victory lap in London holding both the US and Mexican flags. While the majority of the Mexican-American community sees this act as a recognition of Manzano’s roots, many Americans find it nothing short of offensive and dare I say, an affront on our sense of patriotism. Manzano supporters like columnist Esther Cespeda see it an another example of American bigotry.
What Manzano has done is bring the sticky Mexican immigration issue to the forefront once again and allowing him to slap the hand that has fed him and everyone else who crossed the US/Mexican border in the past 100 + years. According to Cespeda, Manzano came to the US at the age of four and is a dual citizen of both the US and Mexico. This means that Manzano could have represented either country in the 2012 London Olympics; he chose to represent the red, white and blue. That is the only flag he should have touched during the Olympic Games.
While people like Cespeda inexplicably want carte-blanche for the Mexican community in the US and feel that they can live with a foot on either side of the border, many Americans question loyalties, and rightfully so.
The first issue is geographical. Unlike the European immigrants of the 20th century, Mexican immigrants can hop in a car or even a plane to go back to their roots. European immigrants boarded boats and never looked back because they knew they couldn’t. They knew that as they watched the shoreline of their homeland fade away that it would most likely be the last time they would ever see it or the loved ones they left behind.
With their close proximity to their homeland and the advent of technology, people of Mexican origin tend to see the border between their homeland and the US as some imaginary line, more like the Prime Meridian than a true border between two sovereign nations. Their ability to cross, almost effortlessly, between the two countries adds to their misguided belief that they can be Mexican and American; without the hyphen.
Then there are those in the Southwestern US who believe that because the lands taken in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo as a result of the Mexican-American War (1846-48) which were once inhabited by Mexicans, that at least symbolically, they are still on Mexican soil.
Add to this the simple fact that many Mexicans have no intention of becoming American citizens and making the United States their permanent home. That is why the US government’s attempts at offering amnesty to immigrants from Mexico has always been unsuccessful. Many are simply here to make money, take advantage of our entitlement programs, etc. and then, one day, move back to Mexico and live out the rest of their lives much more comfortably than they would have without having spent time (and earned money) in the US.
This kind of mentality is what keeps companies like Western Union in business. Many send money home to help support their families and also to build homes in their villages for them to move into when they make the permanent move back to Mexico. The large majority do not want US citizenship and all the expectations that come with it, like paying income tax. Yes, illegals do pay income tax out of their pay checks but when they claim five or six dependents (which they never have to justify in April), the amount that they pay into the IRS and Social Security barely seems equitable.
The number of illegals on the dole of entitlement programs in the US is one of the things that many Americans find distasteful. Knowing that few want to make the US their permanent home or even learn the language, it is a slap in the face to those who pay into these systems via legitimate income tax payments expecting the funds to be used to help their fellow Americans. We don’t even want to discuss in detail the number of Mexican women in border states who come across to have their babies free in our hospitals and to establish their anchor babies.
So, what Leo Manzano has done is put an exclamation point on the slap in the face that Mexican immigrants have been giving to the American people for decades. His message is clear; I’m only here for the benefits.
Yet, all of the above aside, the true irony here is that Mexico has very strict regulations for the protocol under which their flag can be used and displayed. You can read the details here. While the US believe that burning the flag, stepping on it, etc. are all part of free speech, in Mexico there are strictly adhered to laws that govern when and how the flag can be displayed. Mexican celebrities have been fined for posing nude wrapped in the Mexican flag, another was fined for have the flag displayed on his guitar and even the use of the image of the flag requires a special permit for broadcasting.
I sincerely hope that the US Olympic Committee sits down with Manzano and reads him the riot act. He could have run for Mexico if he wanted to, as someone with dual citizenship he had that right. I have to wonder, if he had, would he have run around the track draped in the Mexican flag and proudly holding the US flag in his hand? I think we all know the answer is no.