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Reviewer Rebutted

May 29, 1988

This is a response to Julian Nava's review of my "MexAmerica: Two Countries, One Future" (Book Review, March 20). While Prof. Nava is perfectly entitled to make whatever observation he wishes about my book, I take some umbrage at his distortion of my interpretation of several issues.

I do quote former Gov. Richard Lamm of Colorado and U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, who are not racists nor alarmists, in my chapter on immigration reform. They were, in fact, voicing concerns that the undocumented were being mistreated and exploited in this country. My purpose in citing them was to convey the deeper social complexities wrought by the immigration issue.

Further, and more damnable, in my opinion, is Nava's assertion that my "final view" is that Hispanics want the Hispanicization of America and that Chicanos demand a restoration of territory wrongfully taken from their ancestors.

What I actually wrote was that Anglo-Americans unjustifiably and erroneously fear that this is what Hispanics want. A more apt quotation from my book is: ". . . Save for more militant Chicanos, (Hispanic Americans) do not expect a restoration of territory that fell under Anglo domination after the Mexican-American War. But they do have a claim to a just share of America's cultural identity. Thus far, they have not received it." The reconquista I draw attention to is the tremendous success of Hispanic business in the 1980s.

On bilingualism, I draw no firm conclusion but politely convey what most Mexican-Americans told me: We don't need bilingualism to discover our cultural identity. Actually, the point I make in the book is that the Hispanic identity problem is minimal compared to that of Anglos. I never met a Hispanic who believed that "You Are What You Do."

I did not write this book for Nava and our fellow academics, but rather for my fellow Anglos so they might appreciate and value the place of Mexico, Mexicans, and Mexican-Americans in the United States and of America in Mexico.




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