“How’s it going, Ruben”
What do two top Hispanic American news commentators talk about when they meet for lunch?
Ruben Navarrete is syndicated to newspapers by the Washington Post Writers Group. He also writes for the Daily Beast and worked for CNN for a while. Our national television appearances have been on Fox’s Bill O’Reilly program.
The last time we met was at Las Vegas’ Bellagio Hotel where the best breakfast buffet in the universe is served.
When Ruben first arrived in San Diego to work as an editorial writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, it was my pleasure to show him around my city with emphasis on Mexican restaurants (one Cheesecake Factory) of the “hole-in-the-wall” variety.
This time we met at a restaurant in Vista, CA, where Mexican restaurants seem to outnumber American fast food joints by 2 or 3 to one.
How’s it going, Ruben?
“It’s been some week,” he said. “First I get whipped again about immigration, then I get body-slammed about abortion. It’s been a rough week.”
We both get attacked for similar stands on immigration. Nothing new there. We are the best immigration reform and issue commentators on the national scene. Harvard double degrees notwithstanding, Ruben spent a summer laboring in a fruit processing plant in the country’s breadbasket, California’s Central Valley, working side by side with immigrants, legal and illegal. I picked avocados and plums, lower, as it were, on the pecking order from “processing.”
I have a long history of hiring Mexican immigrant, legal and illegal, casual labor as recently as the beginning of this month when I moved from Las Vegas back to San Diego.
We both know what we are talking about on immigration far more than say Donald Trump who couldn’t tell a Mexican from a Cuban or a Canary Islander.
At the risk of sounding like Donald Trump, Ruben Navarrete and I have forgotten more about immigration than the entire staffs of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) or the Democrat or Republican National Committees.
Abortion is what Ruben wrote about that caused such a furor. He saw a series of videos by a group called the Center for Medical Progress that undermined his decades-long support of “pro-Choice,” support he developed as a Harvard freshman. That support ran counter to his mother’s view and today of his wife’s.
Simply put, his long-standing support of “pro-choice” was shaken by the very idea of selling baby parts that Planned Parenthood blatantly does from aborted babies. He wrote about his “confusion” and you-know-what-hit the fan. Blasted from the deeply-leftist support of abortion and Planned Parenthood, he was called every epithet known to man. Vicious letters flooded his e-mail; comments in letters-to-the editor cast aspersions on his motives, his ethnicity, his manhood (“wimpy”) and his intellect. He shook his head during our entire lunch.
“Ruben,” I said, “let me tell you why I congratulate you for your column.”
75 years ago, a 14-year-old girl in Mexico City found herself pregnant by a family friend who happened to be a powerful Mexican congressman. She turned 15 on the 4th of July 1940. Her grandmother and close friends insisted she get a “procedure,” what we call an abortion. She was under tremendous – tremendous – pressure to avail herself of the prerogatives of her “class” and “standing” – i.e. an abortion.
She refused. She carried the baby to term in January 1941; the boy was born with all his parts working. Two years 10 months later she, her grandmother, younger brother and a child almost three years old climbed aboard a train and went to “El Norte,” the U.S.A, with five gold Mexican coins to finance an entire new life in America; America where she was born. She was 17, had an 8th grade education, a son two years and ten months old and didn’t speak a word of English.
The boy grew up to be a voracious reader and star student who rode good grades into college, specifically into the study of politics, government and the philosophical and ethical underpinnings of both. Knowing his mother wasn’t married to his father, the boy was sensitive to the idea of single mothers making it in our society and to women faced with choices men aren’t on birthing and raising babies.
On his own he decided that every baby was entitled – had a God-given right — to be born and to grow into men and women regardless of circumstances. He was pro-life when Ruben was born (1967, 6 years before SCOTUS decided Roe v. Wade). He never ever wavered.
He welcomes Ruben’s rethinking decades-old support of “pro-choice.”
The story is mine. I wasn’t aware of the details except for never knowing my father until four years ago. Surprisingly, my mother was a highly-placed Party official in the fanatically “pro-choice” Democrat Party despite her always being anti-abortion. She never told me why until days before she died. Thank God she was when she was 14 or I wouldn’t be here.
Kudos to my friend Ruben for courageously questioning his long held position. It shows one is never too old to question anything and/or everything.
Contreras is a political consultant who writes from San Diego, California