Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hispanics and Anglos in Small Town America: There are Jerks Everywhere

I 'look Anglo,' but I'm not. My ancestors, for the most part, came from Norway, Ireland and Scotland. Not England - at least not for quite a few generations. I was born after "Irish need not apply" was part of American history, not the help-wanteds. Can't say that I miss the "good old days."

Today, there are still people coming to America. And, there are still jerks to be found in every group.

I had to think about giving the name of the 'Lake Wobegon Trail rapist.' It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Benjamin Delacruz Ajqui (probably) isn't either German or Irish: the two ethnic groups that, until a decade or so ago described just about everybody here in Sauk Centre.

The two groups got along okay: in the sense that there weren't any riots. But the ethnic divide in this town is why we've got two Catholic churches: the 'German' one, near downtown, and the 'Irish' one near my home. Which is another topic, for another post. Someday.

I'm quite certain that some of the people whose families moved here and check off "Hispanic" on those census forms have run into "anglos" here who weren't very polite. I won't say that I know how they feel: but I ran into someone here who didn't quite approve of me until he found out I was part Dutch. And, therefore, somewhat German. Turns out, I was wrong - but that, again, is another topic.

What can I say? Every group, if it's big enough, has a few jerks in it. Not that the fellow who had the "people-and-all-those-non-Germans" attitude was a jerk. He was just very, very old-world, and wasn't used to dealing with 'foreigners.' Nice guy, apart from that quirk.

And, I've heard two people in town who referred to "those people" in the same tone that I imagine one of my ancestors used, describing another of my ancestors: "He doesn't have family, he's Irish." If I was one of "those people" today, my feelings might be hurt.

But, not that it's the same thing at all, I think it's likely that Benjamin Delacruz Ajqui isn't your typical Hispanic-American. Maybe it's possible that the jerk who doesn't like "those people" isn't a typical Irish-German-whatever-American "Anglo."

Just a thought.

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