Mexican President Vicente Fox brought the possibility of Mexican racism front and center last month when he said:
There is no doubt that Mexican men and women, full of dignity, drive and a capacity for work, are doing the jobs that not even blacks want to do there, in the United States.
The implication being, of course, that in Fox's world blacks are automatically and uniformly on the scut-work end of the economic spectrum. As punishment for his insensitivity, Fox was sentenced to spend a couple of hours pretending to listen to sanctimonious, well-past-his-expiration-date shakedown artist Jesse Jackson, whose son will probably end up owning Acapulco or something as a result.
Situation under control, for Fox, until today, when news broke that Mexico is issuing a series of stamps that only a moron would look at and not see as racially incendiary. The stamps feature big-lipped darkies of the sort popular back in the days when lynching was widely viewed as harmless family entertainment.
Fox's spokesman, Ruben Aguilar, might have done well to step up to the microphones and say, "Jesse, how'd your son like a piece of Cabo San Lucas? Something right by the marina, maybe?" Instead, he explained that the images weren't racist at all, but were just part of Mexico's artistic heritage.
It seems strange to me that this celebration of Mexican culture and Mexico's post office's toast to Mexican cartoonists is misunderstood.
Then, in what has to be one of the most desperate public relations moves ever, the Mexican post office pointed out that in 1985, the government of the Philippines endorsed the comic books upon which the stamps are based, using them to teach family values to schoolchildren.
I say: Bring back the Frito Bandito. And while we're at it, let's issue a series of stamps showing Mexicans being carried across the Rio Grande by smugglers. Oh, and another great idea: How 'bout showing Mexican women luring American men into dark alleys with signs that say "$2." Just part of the American cultural heritage.