Vodka Solves Nothing
Natalia J. Garland
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,
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
Until we meet