Yo Quiero Heads to Roll!

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Maybe none of those racism charges against politicians who used the term tar baby ever stuck. (Pun intended.) That doesn't mean the blockade has ended on colorful racial metaphors. For example, calling Cubans "little Chihuahas."

In staff meetings Tuesday, Miami Herald reporters asked whether the paper was caving to critics. Editor Tom Fiedler dismissed that notion, saying the "22 people who listen to Cuban radio" were being stirred up by "little Chihuahuas nipping at our heels." He later apologized for his choice of words.

Herald Editor eats those words in his paper today, explaining that he was talking about a few crazy Miami talkers who kept implying the Herald was in league with Castro. But just like the rest of these "racial" flare-ups, this seems like bunk. Chihuahas are 1) the most common metaphor for small, annoying, insignificant people and 2) not from Cuba.

(Via Romanesko.)

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  1. Semi-off-topic: You know who’s a “small, annoying, insignificant person”? The twatface customs agent who went through my bags last weekend, confiscated and “destroyed” (read: took home and smoked) my Cubans that I got at a Jamaican dutyfree. Not only did he gank my smokes, but then, in about as condescending a tone as can possibly be uttered, went on to give me a little history lesson on Kennedy, and Missile Crisis, and the embargo. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been more pissed at this country as I did for allowing this international dickwaving contest get in the way of my enjoying a goddamned cigar that I paid hard-earned money for…and have to listen to a fuckin history lesson in the process. Grrr.

  2. In other chihuahua related news:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qfIdQrstwk

  3. Drop the Chalupa, Raul! Obviously, advertising has defined our race relations…ay, yay, yay, aye…I am the Frito Bandito.

  4. As someone who grew up in Tampa and knows lots of Cubans, I know precisely what the problem is. Never, ever, ever, confuse or conflate Cubans with Mexicans. Or, worse yet, with Puerto Ricans. Sometimes, confusing them with Spaniards is okay. But not always!

  5. Semi-off-topic: You know who’s a “small, annoying, insignificant person”? The twatface customs agent who went through my bags last weekend, confiscated and “destroyed” (read: took home and smoked) my Cubans that I got at a Jamaican dutyfree. Not only did he gank my smokes, but then, in about as condescending a tone as can possibly be uttered, went on to give me a little history lesson on Kennedy, and Missile Crisis, and the embargo. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been more pissed at this country as I did for allowing this international dickwaving contest get in the way of my enjoying a goddamned cigar that I paid hard-earned money for…and have to listen to a fuckin history lesson in the process. Grrr.

    You mean you didn’t just purchase a box of cheap Jamaican cigars (or whatever other kind, I don’t know cigars), empty it, and fill it with the Cuban cigars? Crap, here in Canada there is a cottage industry of selling Cuban cigars, and then repackaging them for bringing into the U.S.. As long as they don’t actually do the repackaging for you, it is totally legal on the Canadian side. And based on all the shops selling Cuban cigars that are open right at the U.S. border crossing, I would say that Americans must have no trouble bringing them in.

  6. As someone who grew up in Tampa and knows lots of Cubans, I know precisely what the problem is. Never, ever, ever, confuse or conflate Cubans with Mexicans. Or, worse yet, with Puerto Ricans. Sometimes, confusing them with Spaniards is okay. But not always!

  7. is the old bugs bunny/WB cartoon character Speedy Gonzalez now verboten?

    I haven’t seen him in a while. He’s kind of a reverse stereotype – the classic being “lazy mexicans” whereas speedy acts like he’s on crank

    undale undale arriba arriba!!!!

  8. I once used the term “Mexican overdrive” to describe the old-time habit us poor people had of putting their truck or car into neutral on a downgrade and coasting to save gas. My Mexican friend laughed (no Chihuahua he) but pointed out to me that some people might be offended.

    Pro Libertate is right, don’t call a Cuban a Mexican.

  9. And, by all that’s holy, don’t call a Canadian an American. Unless you say, “North American”. That’s okay.

  10. Uh oh, rob’s going to be outraged.

  11. Pro Libertate

    “And, by all that’s holy, don’t call a Canadian an American. Unless you say, “North American”. That’s okay.”

    *sigh* All too true of my hypersentitive countrymen.

    However, I do play on this a bit when an American tourist asks me if I’ve ever been to “America”.

    I pause for a moment, then say ponderously: “The Americas stretch from Tiera del Fuego to Baffin Island. So I have lived in ‘America’ all my life. However, if you mean ‘have I ever been to the United States’, the answer is ‘Yes’.”

    Note: Refering to the people of the US as “Americans” while tacitly excluding the other inhabitants of North and South America, originated in Europe, so Canadians who get huffy about the inhabitants of the USA ‘usurping’ that term can get stuffed.

    I just enjoy tweaking people.

    Aresen the inhabitant of a country named for a collection of huts.

  12. Aresen,

    I always found that “huffiness” over the Canadians-are-Americans-too argument to be kind of funny. Sure, we’re mostly all “Americans” over here in the Western Hemisphere, but the fact is that citizens of the USA are referred to as “Americans” in the rest of the world. Here’s a test: Take a Canadian and send him to the Middle East. Walk up to the Canadian and ask him if he’s an American. Upon his fervent denial, say, “A-HA! See! Canadian, not American”. Rinse, repeat. Of course, if you are talking to a citizen of the U.S.A. in the same context–especially if you, the questioner, look Arab–he’ll say, “I’m a Canadian, eh, hoser. And I love hockey”.

    I understand that there is (or may be) a negative connotation to the use of the term “norteamericano” by Mexicans.

  13. I always found that “huffiness” over the Canadians-are-Americans-too argument to be kind of funny. Sure, we’re mostly all “Americans” over here in the Western Hemisphere, but the fact is that citizens of the USA are referred to as “Americans” in the rest of the world. Here’s a test: Take a Canadian and send him to the Middle East. Walk up to the Canadian and ask him if he’s an American. Upon his fervent denial, say, “A-HA! See! Canadian, not American”. Rinse, repeat. Of course, if you are talking to a citizen of the U.S.A. in the same context–especially if you, the questioner, look Arab–he’ll say, “I’m a Canadian, eh, hoser. And I love hockey”.

    Aside from Iraq, Afganistan, and a few war zones, why would an American have to particularly hide the fact that they are American (if they are not hiding the fact that they are a westerner)? In most cases, the person in the middle east will probably treat Americans nicer than someone in France or Canada.

    But, on the paranoid hysterical possibility that all people in the middle east are raving lunatics ready to kill at any second, given the Luxor attacks on Swiss tourists, or terrorist bombings in Spain or the UK, or even the recently foiled plan to blow up a bunch of buildings in Toronto and behead the Prime Minister of Canada, do you really think the terrorist killer is going to care if you are Canadian? If they are killing Swiss, who are neutral and haven’t really been at war with anyone for 200 years, they will obviously kill any westerner.

    That being said, when traveling in many countries, it is best to not look like a foriegner… but that is to protect against pick pockets, con men, and petty criminals, not against some politically motivated terrorist attack. And the petty criminals are simply looking for a westerner, not Americans in particular.

    It is a little off topic, sorry… but I always wonder where people get these images of seething hatred of Americans from… surely it can’t be from actual experience, as I have travel all over the world and have never (EVER!!!) experienced any sort of anti-Americanism.

  14. RexRhino,

    Well, I was just kidding. My experiences overseas have all been positive. My only visit to a Muslim nation was to Malaysia, and they were super friendly, though they all thought I should be from Chicago for some reason. Of course, that was in 1997. And Malaysia’s not exactly a typical “Muslim” nation either, considering that one of my experiences there was to visit the famous Batu Caves, which are a Hindu holy place.

  15. I’ve encountered plenty of stereotypes about Americans, sure, but never blantant anti-Americanism. Generally American-ness is something that provokes interest/curiosity and sometimes accusations about hypocrisy/foreign policy/stupidity, et cetera, but generally never that bad.

    I have little-to-no patience for the Americans that are so afraid of WESTERN Europe that they feel a need to plaster their backpacks with Canadian flags. I’ve known many Europeans who joke you can tell an American tourist by the size of the Maple Leaf on their stuff. Because, you know, Americans regularly get murdered by raging mobs on the street over there…As said, blending in is generally the best policy.

    On the topic of this post, for a while I thought we were moving past these knee-jerk accusations of racism (tar baby, spade-a-spade, etc), but it seems not. There’s also the recent uproar over Schwarzeneggar and his (seemingly ill-advised and inarticulate) comments about Asian and Mexican-Americans.

  16. On the other hand, I once [and ONLY once] made the mistake of calling someone from Georgia (the one in N.A.) a ‘yankee.’

    Not pretty. Not pretty at all….

  17. On the other hand, I once [and ONLY once] made the mistake of calling someone from Georgia (the one in N.A.) a ‘yankee.’

    Not pretty. Not pretty at all….

    You’re still alive – stop complaining. 😉

  18. In Europe, upon hearing the accent, people asked if I was Canadian. When I told them, no, I am from Chicago, they always said, well it’s safer to ask an American if he’s Canadian than it is to ask a Canadian if he is American.

  19. “There’s also the recent uproar over Schwarzeneggar . . .”

    You know, the governator’s name is made up of *two* derogatory terms for African-Americans.

  20. highnumber,

    On a trip to Thailand a local cabbie thought I had an English accent(I’m American, the USA variety) because I spoke the english language clearly and correctly. Apparently, most of the American tourists he meets come across as ill-educated and speak the language poorly. Stupid Americans. Personally, I can hardly understand the Brits.

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