Saturday, April 01, 2006

Billy Wilder got it right

All the back and forth about the presence of Mexican flags at protests over immigration laws -- including that classic footage of a cop suggesting to protesters that they should be waving American not Mexican flags -- reminds me of an observation made by the late (Austrian-American) film director Billy Wilder.

Wilder once said that the French or the Swiss, for example, were only confused by someone who yearned to become a French or a Swiss citizen. They couldn't understand, they could only wonder why. After all, the person hadn't been born there. But in America, if you said you didn't want to become an American citizen, Americans took extreme offense: What? We're not good enough for you?

Wilder unabashedly admitted that this was the basis for his love of America.

So I smile and think of dear Mr. Wilder as everybody tries to figure out the precise cultural and political implications of all the Mexican flags. Billy Wilder got it right.

This is America. We may not want you, but you damn well better want to be one of us.

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