Friday, January 12, 2007

One Large Pizza With Chorizo And Jalapeno, Por Favor

Here’s an article on MSNBC that talks about a chain of pizza restaurants in Dallas that has decided to take pesos as a form of payment. The chain is called Pizza Patrón, is based in Dallas, Texas, and has been in business for over twenty years. The founder of the chain is called Antonio Swad.

Guess where he’s from? Hell, take a thousand guesses, like that game on The Price Is Right where you get ten chances to write down the right prices of three different prizes. Okay, your time is up. According to the MSNBC article, the guy is part-Italian, which probably does not come as a surprise - he’s also part-Lebanese, which probably does come as a surprise.

Part Italian. Part Lebanese. Not at all Mexican. Not that that is a problem, you understand. Seems like a no-brainer to me that a store in Dallas would accept pesos for payment. According to the U.S. Census bureau, Dallas is approximately 42% Latino - chances are that a lot of those folks are going to have some pesos to spend from time to time.

Here’s the nice thing about it - Pizza Patrón is reaching out to the Latino population, asking for their business, acknowledging and accepting that population as part of its community, and embracing these folks. Good, good, good, and good.

And yet they are getting death threats and hate mail because of this policy? Can someone explain this to me (without also using hate speech)? Can anyone explain to me how it is that a country founded by immigrants and steeped in the ideas of freedom, equality, and opportunity can just arbitrarily turn its back on a certain group of people who want to come here for the very same things we came here for in the first place (apart from religious freedom, which they already have)?

We’re not losing our national identity here, okay? What we’re losing is perspective. You know what is great about this country? Its diversity. What would New York City be today if not for all the Jews, Irish, and Italians who came over here and set up shop in Manhattan? What would San Francisco be without the gays and the hippies? What would New Orleans be without all the black guys playing jazz and the blues? BORING!

Without all of the color, this would be one hell of a boring country, nothing but white conservative boredom from sea to shining sea. We could rename the country Kansas. But let’s not. Let’s embrace the fact that we aren’t all the same, that some of us don’t speak the same language as most of the rest of us, and that all of us are here because this is, at least for a little while yet, the best place in the world to live and work and raise our kids.

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