We Gringos Like to Say “Salsa”

Our world has produced some great mysteries, has it not? Who was Jack the Ripper? How were the Egyptian pyramids built? Did or did not George W. Bush have prior knowledge of the sinking of the Titanic? And why, exactly, do ‘mericans give a shit about a Mexican holiday?

I’m generalizing here, but let’s face it — we are not a cultured people. We don’t go out of our way to study the world around us. In fact, we tend to struggle with comprehending and understanding our own. According to a survey last year, two-thirds of us can’t name a single US Supreme Court Justice. Not a one. Sorry, Clarence, but your little pub(e)licity stunt seems to have lost some of its luster since ’91.

So, why are Joe and Jane Six-pack so eager to trade in said six-pack for a bucket of cerveza every fifth of May? Well, it certainly has nothing to do with the date’s historical context. Rivers of salsa aren’t flowing today in recognition of the brave hombres at Puebla who battled the croissant-lovin’ frogs, that’s for sure. And considering the enmity toward the steady stream of illegal immigrants over the border, I highly doubt it’s in honor of Mexican culture. Hey, let’s take it a step further: I’m willing to wager a pretty peso that a large and spicy chunk of today’s party-goers have no idea what “Cinco de Mayo” means in Spanish. Sound unreasonable? Oh, I wish it were.

Ultimately, this holiday is just another excuse for white Americans to head down to the local Mexican restaurant, throw back cheap tequila shots, and annoy the staff with slurred, 101-level Spanish between bowlfuls of tortilla chips. If that’s America’s idea of honoring Cinco de Mayo, then she keeps it all the year.

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