Idiotas: Enduring Fools

Growing up, we used a plethora of words to dismiss fools. From two different worlds, my father was from Jalisco, so his sayings were always blander than my mother’s Sonorense expressions, which always seemed franker and more to the point. If you were ugly, they called you el feo. It was the cow culture that reveled in a no bull sh.. mentality. When I messed up badly, I was the pinche güero or the pinche buey, which depending on how it was said was generally a put down.

Words such as cabrón or chingado were rarely used unless in anger and mostly directed at someone outside the family. Even to this day they are words that are not taken lightly in Mexico, especially if used in the context of chinga tu madre.

(It was unlike today when an 85-year-old lady will flip you off on the freeway.)

When you thought someone was stupid and just did not want anything to with them, it was estúpido, imbécil, baboso or pendejo. They had a shock value. My family was more passive and would just give you the señal de la cruz — why call them names if they don’t exist for you?

In the past several years, I have found myself giving most Tucson racists the sign of the cross – they are brain-dead.

Under normal circumstances, I would have given people like Arizona Attorney Tom Horne, Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal and the great majority of the board members of the Tucson Unified Schools the señal de la cruz. However, this was impossible because they do so much damage to an entire community. Reaching back into my consciousness I came up with the perfect descriptive word, idiota, a word that always had a poetic sound. Pinche güero was nice next to idiota!

It was a word that had to be said in Spanish. The word sounded dull in English. Idiot just doesn’t cut it. It is as if it is spoken by Joe Pesci. Idiota has the ring of Sophia Loren strutting down the streets of Pozuolli, Italy, waving her finger at Marcelo Mastroianni and shouting idiota. It sounds like an angry Luciano Pavarotti aura. It is not mealy mouthed like idiot.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer wagging her finger at President Obama recently caught my attention; it is a gesture that betrayed her IQ and upbringing. It was a punk act, and she did it because she knew she could get away with it.

Can you imagine her wagging her finger in John F. Kennedy’s face; JFK had enough Boston Irish not to have gotten angry, but he would have gotten even. Kennedy was just too rich to mess with, and father Joe Kennedy and brother Bobby Kennedy would have taken the insult personally

Lyndon B. Johnson would have told her where to stick it, and Richard Nixon would have fetched J Edgar Hoover on her.

Hilary Clinton would have taken her outside. She never would have tried that cheap trick with Congresswoman Maxime Waters, who would have had her for breakfast. Brewer is an idiota and a coward who she did it for show. Like many of her supporters, she has no class.

It goes without saying that Horne and Huppenthal are idiotas. Every time Horne says that he is with Martin Luther King and wants to judge a person by the content of his character rather than the color of his skin, he desecrates King’s legacy.

Horne judged La Raza Studies without knowing the definition of La Raza, and condemned the whole program without making a single classroom visit. Although he invokes King, Horne attends neo-Nazi gatherings like “Arizona Mainstream Project,” that promotes Glenn Beck and Cleon Skousen. Horne, who avoided military, invokes phrases such as MAS “must be destroyed.” Yet, he is afraid to visit a MAS class.

Huppenthal dismissed a costly audit because he had heard differently from unspecified sources. Huppenthal compared Tuscson Unified School District’s Mexican students to the Hitler Nazi Jugend paramilitary organization at a Pima County Republican luncheon.

Tucson has more than its share of idiotas. The truth be told, TUSD superintendent John Pedicone banned Shakespeare’s The Tempest because the racist Prospero reminded him too much of himself. When he was campaigning for his position, he voiced support of the MAS program saying that he heard good things about it. Once he had his $300,000 job in tow, he became the bagman for the Southern Arizona Leadership Council – a gaggle of modern-day Robber Barons.

Board President Mark Stegeman, who has not shown an ounce of intellectual curiosity, has allowed Minutemen to speak while suppressing the Mexican American community. Stegemam is supposed to be evaluating curriculum but has come up with statements like La Raza is a cult because they use the farmworker handclap.

Like his Tea Party colleague Michael Hicks, he is continuously bested by students who have to correct him.

Alexandre Sugiyama, the latest appointment to the board, just sits there and votes with the majority that is rounded off by Miguel Cuevas, a college student who is a wannabe mover and shaker; he thinks that by siding with the SALC puppets, he’ll turn white. Cuevas would be the perfect Pancho in the Cisco Kid, or better still, the Lone Ranger’s sidekick Tonto.

However, it is too easy to make fun of sick people. In doing so, you can cross the line and become like them. It is not good taste to bait a mad dog. But, I have to confess that I have crossed over this line.

Aside from the main characters, the bagmen, there are scores of other idiotas. You have “Fringe characters” such Jared Laughner who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), and killed six others. The wannabes can be found on the pages of the Tucson Citizen or other Arizona newspaper, grabbing their cheap thrills by writing commentaries to opinion pieces.

They don’t write anything of substance, coming up with inane comments such as “go back to Mexico” or “this is America.” Mostly they are anonymous — like the flasher they get momentary thrills.

In one case, it was a CIA operative in Guatemala whose wife teaches in the Spanish Department at the University of Arizona who keeps up with Tucson via the internet and likes to feel important by dropping what he considers insider information.

There is little dialogue going on, just everyone trying to one up each other. Recently, I wrote on the Spanish Inquisition and a person with the pseudonym of Marcus Tullius commented, “… of course, relate so well to the Spanish Inquisition because the inquisitors like Torquemada are your political antecedents…” He completely ignored the point of the article that likened the destruction of Mexican American Studies and the banning of the books to the Inquisition. In another commentary he wrote, “HA HA. Really? I mean REALLY? You’re hilarious! Bro, you had to sue for tenure when you were publishing in crap journals. Peer review is great when your peers aren’t first graders. I desk reject your crappy comments. No revise and resubmit for you!”

rodolfo acunaMarcus Tullius is of course Marcus Tullius Cicero, purportedly Rome’s greatest speaker and a writer who greatly influenced European thought. Having read Cicero in Latin during my junior year in high school, I can say Mr. Anonymous is no Cicero.

This pedant assumes that if he adopts Cicero’s name, that makes him famous.

Just as comical is that many of his cohorts seem to think that Marcus Tullius is Greek. Unfortunately, with people who hide under the cover of anonymity, there can be no education, and they will forever remain idiotas. So, in the name of the father, the son and the Holy Ghost, “Liberate te ex inferis.

Rodolfo F. Acuña

Published by the LA Progressive on February 12, 2012
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About Rodolfo F. Acuña

Rodolfo F. Acuña is the founding Chairperson of the Chicana/o Studies Department at California State University, Northridge and author of Occupied America.