That was part of the headline over a column in the Los Angeles Times following Mexico’s rousing 4-2 victory over the U.S. national soccer team Saturday night at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
For anyone who watched the game on television _ and certainly much of Mexico did _ one had to be be struck by the leanings of the crowd. According to this Yahoo Sports story, “Mexico was supported by more than 80 percent of the 93,420 in attendance.”
That is an extraordinary statistic. And certainly the red-white-and-green Mexico flags, hats, facepaint and signs in the stands attest to its veracity. One can’t help but wonder if there is any other country in the world that can host a “home game” and have its fans be outnumbered in such a hostile way.
This touched a raw nerve for some Americans. As the LA Times sports columnist wrote, “This was Staples Center filled with Boston Celtics fans.”
The columnist quoted a 37-year-old resident, Victor Sanchez, who said, "We're not booing the country, we're booing the team. There is a big difference.” It noted that fans such as Sanchez reside in the United States while their sporting souls dwell elsewhere.
"But eventually, the rules for their unrequited love get tricky. Because eventually, Mexico ends up playing the U.S. team on U.S. soil. And then folks start wondering, as they surely did Saturday, is it really right for folks who live here to boo and jeer as if they don't?"
The columnist, Bill Plaschke, went on:
“How many places are so diverse that it could fill football stadiums with folks whose roots are somewhere else? How many places offer such a freedom of speech that someone can display an American flag on their porch one day and cheer against the flag the next? I hated it, but I loved it. I was felt as if I was in a strange place, and yet I felt right at home.”
Some analysts saw the Rose Bowl game as a new sign of the reconquista _ or reconquest _ of the American Southwest by Mexicans and were offended by the sentiments of the LA Times piece. Here’s an excerpt from the American Thinker website:
“That a Los Angles Times writer approves of the most recent Rose Bowl spectacle underscores yet again that many in the mainstream media are out-of-step with what most Americans believe.”
The American Thinker essayist, David Paulin, goes on to quote the famous late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington (he of The Clash of Civilizations) who wrote in Foreign Policy magazine in 1998 that he was appalled by Mexican residents of the U.S. who booed the U.S. national anthem and cheered for Mexican sports teams.
"Such dramatic rejections of the United States and assertions of Mexican identity are not limited to an extremist minority in the Mexican-American community. Many Mexican immigrants and their offspring simply do not appear to identify primarily with the United States."
One objective fact amid all this interpretation: Mexicans probably care about soccer far more than Americans and would be more inclined to go to the Rose Bowl to see the game.
From personal experience, I’d also suggest that it remains foolish to underestimate the huge assimilative powers that have made the United States exceptional over the past several centuries.
My stepdaughter lived only two years in the U.S. during her adolescence since her mother and I moved often between Latin America and Asia. She used to voice some disdain toward the U.S., influenced by friends from Europe and elsewhere. Some of this may have been to needle me (her mother is from Nicaragua). But then she went off to university two years ago in the Boston area. Let me tell you, the richness of her experience there has left an indelible imprint on her. She could hardly be more American now. Even if her roots are foreign, her appreciation of the American experience is profound.