The Great Divide

Correspondence from our readers

Please forgive my American people for actually enjoying their bland meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy; their hot dogs, apple pie, and lemonade. Forgive my people for preferring their cup of American coffee in the morning, however watered-down it may seem. And forgive my people for their willingness to enjoy cuisine brought to America by their ancestors from Europe, Asia, Africa, and other parts of Latin America.

Forgive my businesses for wanting to conduct free trade with Cuba. Forgive American tourists for wanting to travel without restrictions to Cuba without running the risk of falling victim to terrorist bombs planted by radical exiles in Cuban hotels.

Please forgive my American people for actually expecting representatives elected to government to represent the interests of the United States of America, as opposed to the narrow interests of a disaffected exile enclave.

Forgive my people for expecting their elected representatives to be Americans -- not Cubans, Russians, Germans, Irish, Italians, Chinese or any other nationality. Forgive the American majority for supporting the laws legislated by those elected representatives. And most important, please forgive my people for accepting and respecting the rule of law.

Please forgive my people for presuming to disagree with policies that do not benefit the interests of the United States of America. Forgive them for demonstrating through words, actions, and tolerance that freedom of speech actually means something. Please pardon my people for having the nerve to believe that a difference of opinion with the Cuban-exile community does not make one a communist spy or an agent of Castro. Forgive my people for their open disgust whenever they are confronted with the intolerance of others, particularly those whose politics run counter to the best interests of the United States.

Finally, forgive my people for presuming to think that U.S. citizenship means far more than merely paying taxes and voting. Forgive them for actually having the audacity to believe that being an American means pledging allegiance to no other flag. Forgive them -- natural-born citizens, immigrants and their children, one and all -- for calling their homeland the United States of America and paying homage to no other. Forgive them for their willingness to die for their country and for their flag. And forgive them for their righteous indignation whenever they hear their country demeaned or see their flag desecrated or placed below that of any other country. Please pardon my people for expressing pride about their own country in their own country.

By the way, when you've finished forgiving my people, try forgiving your own -- namely, those Cubans back in Cuba who have conscientiously embraced the Cuban revolution. You might start by forgiving your beautiful Afro-Cuban brothers and sisters for having -- by a vast majority -- decided to stay in Cuba and participate in a revolution that actually improved their standard of living and their standing in Cuban society. Forgive them for not accompanying a group of disenfranchised, elite "Spanish-speaking Caucasians" (their former owners and taskmasters under one of the longest-lived slave societies in the hemisphere) when they abandoned their country because of their inability to accept social reform and equal opportunity. It is not their fault they had to overcome centuries of slavery only to be reduced to poverty and marginalization under one dictatorial "Spanish-speaking Caucasian" regime after another. Nor can they be blamed for preferring Castro's Cuba over the "Spanish-speaking Caucasian" society that predominates Miami's Cuban community and perpetuates racial stereotypes.

You might also want to forgive the Haitians, Nicaraguans, and other non-Cuban immigrants for wanting the same freedom from oppression the Cuban-exile community so forcefully decries at the expense of anyone who is not a Cuban. Consider forgiving them for not being treated with the same favoritism as Cubans when they arrive in this country. And please forgive them for perceiving it as a personal affront whenever Cuban-elected, Cuban-interested congressional representatives work to prevent their entry into the United States. And while you're at it, forgive them for coming from so-called democracies that in practice are far worse than Castro's so-called communism.

Ian Janssen
Chanelle Rose
Michael Paul
Miami

As far as this white, non-Hispanic, monolingual Miami boy is concerned, we forgive you, Jorge Benitez Sagol, for being too Cuban. It wasn't easy, but we got used to light-skinned people speaking with a Spanish accent. And dark-skinned people speaking with a French accent. And even pale-skinned people speaking with New York accents in which every sentence sounds like an invitation to pick a fight.

We will give you credit for transforming Miami from a sleepy Southern town into a world-class joke. But keep in mind that many of us moved here because it was a small Southern town. We liked the quiet, the lack of traffic and crime, the wide-open swamp. It was a slice of paradise before you turned it into the crazy city it is today, with pollution and loco politicians and a handgun in every Happy Meal.

We do enjoy your entertainers, singers, artists, and ballplayers. Thank you for them. We also appreciate how well you fix our cars, program our computers, and take care of our precious children. We also like the way you tell jokes, the way you make love.

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