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Vodka Solves Nothing

Natalia J. Garland

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Americans can no longer doubt the reality of reconquista, and certain Hispanic activists can no longer accuse patriotic Americans of being anti-immigrant. Reconquista is a globally recognized concept. The Swedish-owned vodka company, Absolut Vodka, just proved that reconquista--the re-conquering of the American Southwest for Mexico--is an attitudinal, symbolic, and potentially geographic reality. To understand the goal of reconquista, take a look at an advertisement that Absolut Vodka ran in Mexico. It shows a map of America and Mexico, with a huge portion of our current Southwest reclaimed as Mexican territory.

The Absolut ad represents more than clever marketing to the citizens of Mexico. First, in order to identify with the ad, the average Mexican must have some knowledge of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), and must harbor resentment over the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago. Otherwise, the ad would be ineffective and a waste of advertising dollars. It proves that the concept of reconquista began among Mexicans, was carried into America by Mexican immigrants, and eventually became the unifying purpose of university activists (M.E.Ch.A.) and illegal immigrant advocates. It also proves that even uneducated Mexicans are culturally aware of the reconquista movement.

Second, the ad seems to send a message to Mexicans that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago is not to be honored, but revoked. It vindicates illegal immigration by abolishing the sovereignty of America and extending the northern border of Mexico. It pictorially tells poor Mexicans that the rich American Southwest belongs to them and they have a right to be here. Third, the ad seems to lend global support to the plight of illegal immigrants and to the political ambitions of Mexican and Mexican American activists. It portrays America as an enemy to be conquered and not a friend to be appreciated. "In an Absolut world," illegal immigrants could drink expensive vodka in Salt Lake City, Mexico.

But alcohol has never conquered anything except the human spirit. Many Mexican citizens are actually Indians, or are of mixed Indian and Spanish ancestry. Alcohol has had a devastating impact on indigenous peoples. How can a vodka company dare to associate alcohol with economic improvement and political power? Vodka, not the U.S.A., should be regarded as an enemy to people who have a low tolerance for alcohol. It is alcohol consumption that creates problems by destroying finances, family bonds, and self-respect.

How can a vodka company dare to pit one nation against another? Would Absolut run an advertisement illustrating Istanbul (in present-day Turkey) as having been reclaimed by Greece? How would Turkish Muslims react to being symbolically re-conquered by Greek Christians? Muslims do not even drink alcohol. "In an Absolut world," perhaps Muslims could start drinking Bloody Marys. Now that would be bold advertising! However, such an ad would violate political and religious boundaries. Absolut would never dare to disrespect the Muslim populations.

Although Absolut has removed the ad in response to offense felt by Americans, the political statement has been clearly made and the map will continue to run indefinitely on the internet. Evaluating the map is not a matter of artistic interpretation. The map presents an unmistakable dislike of the facts of history and an alignment with people who intend to reverse those facts. Whether the motive was to sell vodka or to take a political stance, the ad made an anti-American statement. Americans must sober up to the reality of reconquista and stop associating this concept with anti-immigrant paranoia. (Written 04/14/08: bibliography available.)

[NOTE: To read more about reconquista, see my essays Illegal Immigration as a Social Problem, Part I Section (1) (written 05/30/07), Cinco de Mayo at the Crossroads (written 07/04/10).]

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2008 Natalia J. Garland