Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day Clippings From My Newsroom Floor: The Press & The State Jet, Plus: Even More Spanish Identity Debate, And: Some Campiagn Humor (Finally) 

Here are some clippings from my newsroom floor before you jump back in the pool this Labor Day 2010 and get a final refresher before the campaigns kick into high gear tomorrow. We start off with jet fatigue...

The same press that gave us oodles of coverage of the purchase of a $5.5 million state jet and whose backsides were being comfortably ensconced in the plane are now complaining that the jet has dominated too much of the campaign for Governor which now has less than two months to go.

The Rio Grande Sun cries in its beer over the campaign jet coverage, saying it's time to move on to more substantive matters. But it was early in Big Bill's administration that the paper devoted reams of copy (and conspiracy theories) about the various state plane rides he took. And the ABQ Journal--previously jet-obsessed with front-pager after front-pager--now laments that the story it ran riot with is now nearly daily fodder on the campaign trail.

Well, the lesson for the press is you may want it both ways, but that doesn't mean you're going to get it.


There is going to be no easy way to bring to an end the Great Reader Debate over Spanish identity because the email--some of it pretty damn articulate--keeps pouring in. And because it's such a hot topic we'll stay with a day or two more. Here's Barry Simon of ABQ and the NM Institute for Conflict Literacy who says we went too far when we dubbed a letter of explanation written by Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez "an apology." (For those of you not up to snuff on all this, just scroll down to read previous entries). Here's Barry:

..Dr. Rael-Gálvez did not present an apology; he sent an apologia which is a justification of his original comments. How do I know this? Just read the first sentence of his email: "...I wish to apologize for any misunderstandings and...any offense caused by my remarks in the Alibi..." This is as conditional as it gets. He suggests that the readers were at fault for misunderstanding his comments. As such, they are responsible for feeling offended because of their misunderstandings. Then he goes on to blame the Alibi since the article was the result of a longer conversation. Clearly, Alibi misrepresented what he said in that conversation. Finally, he goes on to tell us he is an expert in this subject and that identity is fluid and, therefore, his original comments were not incorrect. And you accept this as an apology?

What he should have written was "I wish to apologize for the statements I made about New Mexico and Spanish heritage. It was not my intention to offended anyone and I am deeply saddened by the hurt my comments have caused." Now that's an apology. Then he can go onto explain why he made these comments and then finish by offering some kind of reparation, such as pledging to be more sensitive in the future. However, I doubt you will get such an apology from Dr. Rael-Galvez because he is not sorry for his comments but only for the commotion they created. This was a PR ploy, often used by politicians and the politically inclined, to get past the situation his comments created, not a real attempt to take responsibility for what occurred. I suspect if you ask the offended parties if they accept this "apology," they would reply in the negative.

Before he can truly apologize, the good doctor needs to understand the damage his comments caused and take responsibility for that. That takes empathy and humility. Hopefully, he has these qualities and will try again to genuinely apologize to those he hurt.


New Mexico public relations guru, John Cordova, comes with this take:

One hundred years ago a Mexican philosopher and education minister coined the phrase the "Cosmic Race" noting that Mexicans were the best of all groups because they were a mixture of all races. His perceptions were a reaction to the Spanish and French elite-class pressure to define the Mexican Culture. New Mexico was experiencing a similar pressure at the time as we bid to be a state. We were being defined in Washington DC as "mongrels" unable to speak English. Elite pretensions and expediency prevailed and our genetic roots were edited and most of us were accepted as full fledged citizens.

In the 1960s Reies Lopez Tijerina awakened many of us to the commonality of our genetics by referring to us as Indo-Hispanics as he attempted to created a "brown movement." He wasn't able to sustain a movement but he did raise our consciousness. And, of course, there was "push back" by those who preferred the "pure" Spanish myth. I have felt that it was a class-based myth, denying that we were Mexicans or Indians and leaving us with hard to explain physical characteristics. Those of us who are interested can trace our roots back four centuries but an honest accounting nearly always finds some Indian in the genealogical wood pile. We are proud of Estevan Rael-Galvez, his intellect and accomplishments. We need to lose our class pretensions and embrace our multi-genetic and multi-cultural reality.

Finally for today, here's ABQ's Louis Martinez with a quick take:

We need to check the Rael-Galvez DNA...Living on Venus has fried his brain. My family has records of their continuous habitation of the high desert upper Rio Grande Valley for four centuries and how they originally came from Spain and the Iberian Peninsula..


In times past we were first in the nation in this category, but we are still way up there, underlining the importance of the federal establishment here:

The state ranks fifth in the nation for the amount of money the federal government spent per resident in fiscal year 2009, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Direct federal per capita spending in New Mexico totaled a little less than $14,000 in FY09... Alaska topped the list with more than $20,000 in per capita federal spending.

New Mexico, the report said, received $27.4 billion in direct federal spending in the fiscal year. Direct spending includes federal salaries, retirement, disability payments, unemployment benefits, procurement spending and federal grants...


Sure, the Guv campaign has been dry as cactus, but there is some humor out there. One of our readers asks:

Have you seen the "No Tejana Susana" bumper stickers? I just saw one.

Well,the Martinez camp might find that too amusing but their El Paso born candidate will be taking much tougher hits than that should she be elected November 2.

And how about some tongue-in-cheek yard sign tips? We've got some from a wag in the Denish camp. Enjoy them. Happy Labor Day, New Mexico:

--Make sure you put them up in a well-lit area. Preferably shrouded in a halo of Christmas lights that you know you will be putting up in a month anyway. You don't want that yard sign walking away late at night as they have been known to do.

--Please do be sure to put your yard sign in the front yard. Backyard signs can usually only be seen by voters who have made up their minds (you), children with too much time on their hands, and of course Fido who may want to take a bite or leave his mark.

--The signs are designed to easily go into grass or dirt yards, so please no jackhammer rentals this year to install signs into your driveway, sidewalks or city streets. The excitement is appreciated, but probably not by your local municipality or your neighbors!

--We try to be very green here at the Denish-Colon campaign and re-use things as much as possible, but please keep in mind for after the election that these recycled yard signs are not edible, and no amount of red chile will change that.

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