Arnold Schwarzennegger is in gaffe trouble again. Last week was "hot-blooded Latinas" week, or maybe it was something else; it's hard to keep up. This week it's for saying Mexican immigrants "try to stay Mexican but try to be in America," blaming a slowness to assimilate on the proximity, the siren call, of their native land. Naturally, ever-outraged Latino and Democratic activists are ripping into the Governator for deplorable insensitivity and ignorance.
Which raises the issue of the nature of gaffes. This is an example from the category of "painful truths best left unsaid." Few are disputing that there is something to the governor's analysis, that immigrants from Mexico may indeed -- sometimes, in some cases, not always! -- be a little slower to assimilate than immigrants from, say, Ireland. And I have a hard time hearing hard-heartedness in the governor's talk, in which he went on to recount his own assimilation and urge other immigrants to embrace America as he did. How dare he say such a thing!
Which brings us to the shocking failure to assimilate that I've noticed among my Canadian immigrant friends, who get all misty-eyed at seeing a maple leaf and can't shake a craving for soup and French fries drenched in brown gravy (stereotype alert!). It's that proximity thing, for sure. To them I say, embrace America, mes amis, embrace ketchup.
(For those who wish to deplore my insensitivity, a handy Comments button is provided below.)
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.