Saturday, April 8, 2017

Joe Joaquin’s Honesty

The honesty of Joe Joaquin’s stories took me by surprise. We had sat through a number of presentations, all seeming to touch on related issues. However, each presentation seemed to have some root issue involving external threats to an internal sanctity. It was the drug smugglers, water demands, Border Patrol, western food. All of these issues had been addressed in polite, conservative, and pragmatic ways. Although we were all outsiders, each speaker seemed to point the finger at someone not in the room.

This tension was broken once Joe Joaquin dropped the proxy discussions. It was no longer a reference to “others”, but us. We were the outsiders, we were the ones that didn’t understand. While other speakers seemed excited to have students interested and concerned, Joe made it clear: you might be sitting here and listening to us, you might study us, you might have “policy implication” papers about us, but we’re still here. We weren’t providing any solutions, and he knew that. We were the very outsiders he was referring to.

Maybe his frank, almost hostile rhetoric was misinterpreted. Of course he didn’t intend to be aggressive, but it helped relay the message that so many others seemed too conservative to address. He didn’t want integration, cooperation, or coexistence. We are not the same. I feel his reference to his service in the military said it all: he didn’t fight for our country. He fought for his.

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