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photos by Lara Shipley

The Hidden Significance of Ahnold

October 8th, 2003 · No Comments

I was just talking with my father, who came to the U.S. from Spain in the early 70s, about the California election. He found it amazing, remarkable, that an immigrant with a heavy foreign accent would be elected governor of the country’s most populous state. Not only that, but it seems not to have been an issue in the campaign at all… except in the positive sense, as part of Arnold’s up-by-my-own-bootstraps narrative. Never, he said, would something like that happen in modern France or Spain or Italy—the Governator would be deemed to lack “cultural authenticity”(or some other such fig leaf term).

I realized that this hadn’t even occured to me—that is, not only wasn’t it an issue, but I never stopped to consider that it might be an issue, or that there was anything unusual in it not being. And that’s sort of fantastic: you know a cultural virtue has become deeply ingrained when people stop consciously celebrating it. In honor of Chris Rock, we might call this the “What do you want, a cookie?” level of integration.

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