Whatever happened to the “lazy Mexican”? Now all I hear is that they’re taking our jobs.
Isn’t that the stupidest paradox? Really: How can someone simultaneously be a yeoman and a layabout unless he’s Shaquille O’Neal? But accusing ethnics of being both is America’s most cherished immigrant insult. Every group felt its contradictory sting: Chinese (opium smokers or railroad coolies), Irish (drunks or ward bosses), Scandinavians (oafs or Vikings), Italians (slum dwellers or Mafiosi), Jews (rag-picking parasites or international bankers) and now Mexicans. The insult’s popularity draws its venom from our Puritan forefathers, who considered life outside of labor sin: it’s a miracle the phrase on Auschwitz’s gate, Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Brings Freedom), isn’t inscribed on the Capitol Dome. What’s strange, though, is how modern-day gabachos forgot the Protestant work ethic long ago; meanwhile, immigrants continue to pick up Max Weber’s flame without forgetting to enjoy life. Bested in both works and pleasure, gabachos seethe, grow fat and elect evangelicals—and don’t get me started about faith without works and its relationship to American sloth.