About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Catholics and Living History

The debate between the PRD and the Catholic Church in Mexico is a great example (probably just to history geeks) of why history matters so much. The debate itself is gripping, but the response of people reading about the debate interests me even more. Responses to a column in Excelsior called Catolico y perredista generated some great statements like this one from 1857 ... oops, 2010:

Los prelados mexicanos son los seres más hipócritas del mundo... se desgañitan por temas como este pero olímpicamente se hacen pendejos cuando sus curas pederastras y lenones depredan a muchachitos.

Or this one from 1934 (though the enviado de Vaticano part is a little off):

¿Asi es que el enviado del Vaticano quiere que solo existan catolicos y neocristero?

Or this one from El Universal and 1946:

Por favor, les pido que actuen de acuerdo a los "principios" que rigen al partido que yo pense era de izquierda. Respeten el apoyo de quienes votaron por ustedes y actuen. ¿Qué no quieren confrontaciones con la iglesia? Entonces ¿ella es la que gobierna al país?

My favorite was the second part of the "neo-cristero" post:

¿Ciento cincuenta años no les han enseñado nada a la curia romana en México?

The recourse to history - the ever present use of it - is an amazing thing for an historian to see. Americans rarely take such a path, often going only as deep as some non-contextual quote from Jefferson. I know that author Richard Rodriguez has often argued that culture is the constant Janus of Mexico's existence, simultaneously binding and lifting Mexicans as opposed to history. I would argue that history is so much part of Mexican culture in a way that it has ceased to be in the United States. Our history is a closet of skeletons and ghosts trotted out to intimidate opponents while in Mexico the calaveras of history's dead dance in the streets like a Posadas engraving. U.S. history comes with interpretive panels and talking heads - Mexican history is waking up in the morning and lying down at night. And I don't mean this as some sort of attempt to romanticize the use and abuse of history in Mexico, but I do mean to say that it seems to be ever present in Mexican discourse in a conscious way, as opposed to the unconscious way it appears in U.S. life.

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