Gustavo Arellano has an interesting op-ed in the Los Angeles Times today on USC quarterback Mark Sanchez's decision to wear a mouthpiece decorated in the red, white, and green of the Mexican flag. Given that Sanchez is a third-generation Mexican-American from Mission Viejo, Arellano's take on this seems right on:
America, meet your postmodern Mexican: one not hung up on your eternal suspicion of his ethnicity, one for whom multiculturalism is an afterthought, as natural and acceptable as breathing air. ... Giving such a shout-out to your pedigree is akin to Boston Red Sox fans donning Irish green ball caps, or New Jersey wiseguys crooning "Volare" along with Dino--an expression of ethnic solidarity, not sedition.
Unfortunately, then Arellano, a UCLA grad, decides to engage in some gratuitous Trojan-bashing while (presumably unintentionally) illustrating the sorry state of UCLA football:
Plenty of USC's conservative followers wish Sanchez had kept identity politics off the gridiron. (If the same scenario had played out at my alma mater, UCLA, we already would have renamed Spaulding Field after Sanchez.)
I doubt there were many USC fans who had much of a problem at all with Sanchez's mouthpiece. USC students, on balance, certainly are more conservative than their Bruin counterparts, but it's the conservatism of David Dreier, not Tom Tancredo--the self-absorbed conservatism that doesn't really care about anyone's race as long as it doesn't have to pay for anyone's health care. Meanwhile, I'm wondering whether Arellano actually means to suggest that UCLA would rename its practice field after a quarterback with two career wins--one that required a fourth-quarter comeback over lowly Arizona, and one over a 1-7 team with the worst offense in Division I-A. (Well, maybe it wouldn't be such a crazy idea after all.)