Monday, October 26, 2009

Racial Protest Puts Us On the Map

This Associated Press article about a local hotel owner and his troubles with outraged Hispanic protestors, which ran in USA Today in the Travel News section, was no news to us. We've been watching the protestors for months (first reference in The Taos News was in its August 19 issue).

So, this little song-and-dance is getting old.

My beef starts with a safety concern: the hotel is right at the spot where the northbound Paseo del Pueblo Sur (goes from two lanes to one, usually with heavy traffic. So, there's a merge, with the right lane disappearing, right where the protestors usually hang out. I haven't heard of anyone getting run over yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if there have been a couple of close encounters between vehicle and Brown Beret.

Beyond that, I don't know what is being accomplished. Larry Whitten, the benighted, insensitive owner of the hotel, seems determined not to turn and run, though he's undoubtedly leaking money (and he probably wants to get past this disaster before he tries to sell it). The employees who were fired--for whatever reason, it has not been made real clear--aren't getting their jobs back. The protestors are getting plenty of fresh air. Taos Mayor Darren Cordova said Whitten hadn't done anything illegal--no labor violation, I guess--and I'm guessing he checked to see. There just doesn't seem to be much resolution in the air.

As far as publicity, the protestors' group and the hotel each get some, none of it good. The town was described in generally favorable terms.

The Subtext: Perceived Slights to the Majority Group

The reporting has focused on Whitten's request to a couple of Hispanic employees to Anglicize their names for calls on the switchboard. CNN picked up the story today and had a long piece, including a phone conversation with Whitten, during which two women reporters talked to each other (with him on the line) about how he needed therapy for his insensitivity. Then they cut to a colleague, Rick Sanchez, who told them he had done the same with his name--to fit in and have more success in an Anglo-dominant society--and thought Whitten had a point.

The point here is that Taos is a highly progressive community with an Hispanic majority, and there is a little bit of PC bullying about the whole thing. There may be injustice involved, but there's plenty of that around. I'm just hoping this ends without any resort to violence, or to arson--as occurred recently with the homeless shelter.

No comments: